Apple, long an innovator in manufacturing, is investing $100m to return Mac production to the U.S. in 2013. The use of robotics and automation plus manufacturing closer to its markets for lower shipping costs and faster time to market has persuaded the electronics giant to do this. After 20 years of leveraging a cheap, offshore manufacturing supply chain, Apple has realized that these advantages have become marginal. Where Apple leads in game changing innovation today others always follow.
I believe a similar but even more fundamental shift will soon be sweeping through the insurance software industry. (Whisper… it has already begun!)
The most innovative thinkers are now deploying the concept of “Co-Innovation” whereby better business software is created by fundamentally changing the roles of the people in the business and the IT supply chain they rely on.
This new way of working puts the business in control (and, yes, on the critical path) of developing applications. Already, business people, using end-user tools similar to Excel and Visio, are easily creating “models” to define what they want and are instantly (repeat Instantly) creating and deploying enterprise wide applications. Meanwhile, their IT colleagues concentrate on creating the tools, architecture and environment to facilitate and deploy these applications. The result of this co-innovation is that business gets all the applications it wants immediately and at the right price, while the guys in IT become the heroes for making sure they get there.
Does this all sound too good to be true? Well the ability to employ graduates in music, philosophy, math or marketing and have them produce enterprise-wide business applications for you within a very short period of time and without a single programmer in sight is already happening. In addition, they can do this at the same price as it’s done off-shore, and do it in your time zone and in your office if need be.
This is being done by employing graduates with strong interpersonal, logical and analytical (not IT) skills – the kind of people who are good at logic puzzles, can relate to customers and their needs, and translate what they want into on-screen models. The software just comes out of the system automatically and is fully self-documented.
If you don’t believe this is possible take a look at the company BPM Specialists (www.bpmspecialists.com) which, during six years of 100% growth working with Fortune 50 customers, are doing just that.
Insurance executives have moaned for years that they want to re-design their objectives and operating models but that IT cannot deliver swiftly, accurately and to budget to support them. The time has come for The Business to get back control of IT. But can the insurance industry embrace the new way of working, and overcome its massive reputation for being timid and conformist? If they do, I’m guessing another innovator might be born. Who is the Apple of Insurance?