Cultivating digital minds for the boardroom

06-08-2018

Cultivating digital minds for the boardroom

DXC’s innovative Digital Minds programme is an opportunity for brokers, insurers and London Market associations to embrace and lead digital change within the industry. Its founder Caroline Bedford told Intelligent Insurer how the programme is producing the digitally switched-on C-suites of the future.

The world of insurance is in the middle of a digital revolution, and in order to evolve into a more efficient, cost-effective and straightforward place to do business, it has to undergo massive change.

“With agile, rather than taking years to implement change, you do what’s needed to get things off the ground as soon as possible, and then build on it.” - Caroline BedfordHistorically slow to embrace new technologies, insurers and brokers are very aware of the need to address the routes and processes they use to explore and deploy new digital solutions, and to dissect and disseminate understanding of their value within the industry.

Leading this change is Digital Minds, a programme initiated by end-to-end IT services and solutions company DXC Technology. Digital Minds was founded in 2016 by Caroline Bedford, account manager, and John Taylor, account general manager for DXC’s London Market Account.

Available to brokers, insurers and associations, the programme has numerous senior sponsors, including Dominic Christian, global chairman, Aon Benfield; Michael Gould, chief operating officer, Brit; Clare Lebecq, head of operations, JLT Specialty and Louise Day, director of operations for the International Underwriting Association. It provides a platform for change; the delegates share a common goal of embracing digital transformation while retaining the unique qualities that make the London Market special.

Bedford has worked in the London Market for more than 25 years, providing software analysis and consultancy and leading global system replacements for large insurers.

“Despite coming from a technical background, I have always been clear that to make any change stick you have to focus on more than just systems and software; it’s about bringing on board the people and changing the culture,” she says.

“It’s not just the big changes, it’s the small, regular, repetitive ones that get you to the end goal.”

For example, she has observed the challenges faced by insurers when mergers and acquisitions necessitate the integration of two organisations, each with its own digital processes and technology.

“This isn’t a quick job—it takes a lot of time, a lot of iteration and a lot of participation to combine not only systems and infrastructure, but also cultures,” she says.

DXC has a five-year contract with the London Market to refresh and energise some of its core systems and infrastructure, some of which are almost 20 years old.

“We are committed to helping the London Market transform into the best digital marketplace in world. It’s not a matter of upgrading a few systems and being done—we knew this was a big challenge that needed much collaboration, so we set up Digital Minds as a way to champion digital change.

“Change in corporate environments can often be seen as stressful or difficult, but the opportunity for transformation in the London Market is tremendously exciting. We wanted to encourage people across the Market to get on board and see the potential,” says Bedford.

“The idea is to bring together a broad range of representatives from brokers, insurers and associations in the London Market. The delegates represent the phenomenal range of roles and expertise the market is famous for: we have brokers, underwriters, actuaries, analysts, adjusters, accountants, data scientists, and many more.

“There is no limit to age, and no level of seniority is too low or too high. The main criteria are that the delegate must want to see the Market prosper, and be prepared to engage to make it happen.”

 

How it works

“Digital Minds typically runs one session each month, the shape of which varies depend on the topic—but the aim is to introduce the members to a particular aspect of digital transformation, or dive more deeply into something they have insight into, so they go back and share that in house,” says Bedford.

Innovative firms such as Beazley and Aon have supported the programme since its infancy with workshops on emerging technologies such as blockchain, the internet of things and artificial intelligence, and their views on the insurer or the broker of the future.

Digital Minds participants take the insights they’ve gained back to their companies to inspire change from within. With that in mind, each member is sponsored by a senior colleague, usually from the C-suite, who commits to help make that happen.

The programme aims to increase the pace of change. DXC uses an agile approach to development and delivery, which makes it possible to implement changes far more quickly than would otherwise be possible—and Digital Minds gives insurers and brokers the tools needed to adopt the same approach.

“Many of our clients want to move towards this type of environment; the world of technology is changing at a faster pace than it ever has before but historically insurance has often managed technology ‘in-house’, which is becoming harder and harder,” says Bedford.

“Technology and infrastructure need to be fluid. An agile approach is needed; a ‘just-in-time’ method where you move quickly, at a pace aligned with the rapid changes in requirements, and with tech. With agile, rather than taking years to implement change, you do what’s needed to get things off the ground as soon as possible, and then build on it.”

The Digital Minds sessions aim not only to share new approaches with members, but also to give them the tools and skills required to influence their wider circle.

“We look at how to build the ability to put the message across on numerous platforms; how to use social media to share their opinion to get other people on board; how to influence outwards and upwards,” Bedford explains.

“For example, Katherine Bryant from The Progress Partnership teaches our delegates influencing skills, and has developed a bespoke dual-mentoring programme, to bring industry leaders and Digital Minds delegates together to share their different perspectives.”

 

Outcomes

Digital Minds is working towards delivering the next C-suite generation, and ensuring that they are fully equipped to lead change in the digital world.

“Our delegates understand the power of technology in today’s insurance world; they understand the need to move to a more agile technological approach,” says Bedford.

“It’s the way forward, and Digital Minds gives them the ability to explore it deeply, to share their passion and drive with a significant number of other Market participants. With change, there’s strength in numbers, and Digital Minds provides that collective.”

At present Digital Minds brings together 38 companies, with a total of 65 members, creating powerful networking opportunities. Feedback from delegates has been overwhelmingly positive, as has the response from the sponsors involved.

Michael Gould, COO of Brit, sums it up: “I have found Digital Minds to be an excellent forum for harnessing the generations across the market, who have the passion, desire and curiosity to make a real difference to our digital agenda.

“The forum is a mixture of formal training and learning experiences from highly respected leaders, and provides an opportunity for participants to challenge themselves in a safe environment.”

By bringing together members from multiple brokers and insurers, Digital Minds is creating opportunities for new, collaborative partnerships and solutions. This goes beyond the UK; with insurance now being heavily supported offshore, and with DXC’s global reach, there are plans for Digital Minds to expand to India and beyond.

“All the change programmes I have worked on before have been driven by choice—but now the change is being propelled on the industry by outside forces”, says Bedford.

“It presents us with an opportunity to lead rather than just protect, and we have the people in the industry who can help us do that. Each company has brilliant minds within it, and we are creating a non-partisan opportunity for them to unite.”


Caroline Bedford is London Insurance Market account manager–digital at DXC Technology. She can be contacted at: cbedford@dxc.com

DXC, Caroline Bedford, Digital Minds programme, Insurtech, Technology, John Taylor, London Market, Global

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