This is the first in a series of three ASUG Guest Perspectives contributed by Bob Evans, Acceleration Economy co-founder, Cloud Wars founder, and digital business expert. Evans is a keynote speaker for the upcoming ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Cloud conference. More information on the conference can be found at https://www.asug.com/events/asug-best-practices-sap-for-cloud.
On the New York City subway, an insurance company you’ve probably never heard of (Traverse) is advertising policies for things you’ve probably never considered insuring (eyeglasses, skateboards, musical instruments, footwear, etc.) for durations you might very well think are crazy (per month, for example).
Wait a minute, wait a minute! I thought insurance was just for homes, cars, and healthcare, and was available only in 12-month increments—period and full no-substitutions-allowed stop. What the heck is going on here?
Well, the power of the cloud is rocking the insurance industry by giving providers the agility, flexibility, raw compute power, and AI-driven data insights to create extraordinarily new types of insurance products, services, and coverage timetables. Taken together, this expands the universe for those offerings to digital natives who would probably never even consider buying traditional types of insurance.
Transcend Boundaries, Redefine Markets
The cloud is revolutionizing the insurance business—and every other industry as well—letting companies transcend the boundaries that had rigorously defined markets for, quite literally, centuries.
So it is that we see Traverse Insurance advertising insurance policies for “the things you love”: cell phones ($6.50 per month), bicycles ($4 per month), skateboards ($.38 per month), cameras, musical instruments, and more. Oh yeah—and I almost forgot to mention: the brains behind this wild new Traverse brand is the 165-year-old insurance giant known as Travelers, with 30,000 employees and 13,500 agents and brokers.
This is a perfect example of why the cloud, more than anything else, is the Reimagination Machine. I’m sure that at some level, Travelers is using cloud technology to do some of the same things it’s always done, but just a bit more efficiently—and that’s wonderful.
But the real world-changing power of the cloud is in its ability to give business leaders the ability to reimagine:
- Business models
- Revenue models
- Customer-engagement models
- Recruiting and hiring models
- Product-development models and cycles
- Market expansion
- Pricing strategies
- Digital commerce and much, much more.
Bold Innovation for Next-Gen Customers
Travelers certainly didn’t conceive and execute the bold innovation behind Traverse by thinking about “how can I do what I’ve always done a little faster and a little cheaper?” Instead, they took an entirely fresh look at what a new generation of customers—people about 30 years old and younger—might want to protect financially. And the result was new types of insurance with new pricing models and terms of service plus new ways of marketing and advertising Traverse: I happened to see one of the company’s ads on the New York City subway.
Talk about reimagination: insurance ads on the subway?
Traditional technology is wonderful: in most cases it did exactly what it was asked to do for as long (or longer) than expected. And thanks to the extraordinary skills of millions of IT professionals, those systems were kept up and running, were secured, were integrated, and did whatever was asked of them.
Yet today’s business world requires—in fact, demands—much, much more from the technology systems that underpin those businesses:
- They have to be able to adapt to and fully embrace relentless change and a seemingly infinite range of external requirements from developers, partners, customers, and users.
- They have to be able to deliver in weeks what took traditional technology months or quarters.
- They have to provide secure, responsible gateways to data, rather than serve as locker-downers of data.
- They need to be mobile-first, zero-trust-first, and be imbued with gorgeous user interfaces.
- They need to be able to work across heterogeneous clouds, on-premises systems, and the edge—which, it seems, is becoming less “the edge” and more the vibrantly beating heart of where digital business is happening.
And they need to be able to do all this so that business leaders can create the digital-business futures their organizations need to grow, to innovate, and to dazzle their customers. Because as customers—whether B2B or consumers—become more demanding, less loyal, better informed, and more willing to switch than ever before, businesses must move with equivalent levels of speed, nimbleness, and vision.
Create Next Practices
If traditional business was all about stability and efficiency and best practices, then digital business is all about change and disruption and real-time adaptation and the creation of next practices.
And that means:
- hospitals have to think about delivering healthcare in a world where it’s very likely that the number of traditional hospitals will decrease dramatically as new, better, more patient-centric care-delivery systems emerge;
- construction companies move upstream into the materials business and downstream into 3D printing;
- Vacation rental services will expand beyond housing to travel and destinations;
- Retailers move upstream into logistics and downstream into consumer packaged goods;
- Banks launch more business services that have little to do with “banking;”
- High-fashion retailers respond to enormous demand for used clothing; and
- Curbside pickup/deliveries, after just two years, is the staple for multiple industries.
These are all prime examples of vigorous and fully committed reimaginations, and they are thereby the antithesis of how a lot of businesses have operated for a lot of years–many quite successfully.
But, to lean on a cliché, what got us here will not take us there. And many (most?) of the business models of the recent past will be insufficient to meet the demands of the rapidly onrushing acceleration economy.
By all means, let’s all continue to keep a close eye on costs and promote efficiency gains wherever possible. But beyond that, let’s all put a premium on reimagining our businesses for a future that is coming at us faster than ever before and that will not, in many cases, accept the approaches, processes, and mindsets of the past.
It’s time to unleash the reimagination machine—and the cloud is the ideal engine.