Is this the question in everybody’s mind but nobody wants to ask?
Technology is moving at an accelerated pace, faster than some proposed market solutions can keep up with and we certainly don't have time for a new build. This is not peculiar to this market. We are in a 4th Industrial Revolution, so our new born babies will see private cars in museums, they will see the end of fossil fuels, they will have AI software like Watson to diagnose diseases and give legal advice. Autonomous cars will reduce accidents to such an extent that a million lives will be saved and Insurance will become so cheap Insurers will need to rethink. In fact our cities, needing 95% less parking spaces will be re thought. Our working habits mean more rural living, our towns will be quieter, the death of the high street will continue and drones will fill our skies. Even now the subjects taught in Tech courses in University in year one are out of date by year 3.
So, taking years to transform a market is .... too slow!
The timeline for the TOM was ambitious for a market hardly renowned for its fast reactions and disruptive behaviour. But then to adopt the traditional Tender, Filter, Pitch, Filter & Selection routine is just contradictory to the ambitions laid out. By the time the finish line is reached, which in some cases could be the start line for building the solution selected, (never mind the start of any integration with existing systems), many in the market will have already moved on. The solution first required may be no longer relevant or fit for purpose.
The market needs to do things differently. It needs to use the skills of the technologists around, rather than being a traditional "Client" just reinventing wheels and designing a digital solution that just replicates old manual processes, at the detriment of embracing new technology. There is new technology out there, already proven. The skill should be to try new technology (proven or not), expect some of it to fail but do it quickly. focs on whether a solution has speed to market and will be used by the humans it is put in front of.
So far PPL is hardly a market standard rolled out for all participants to connect to, nor is there a set of standards and web services to facilitate the same between systems. The focus appears to be on providing solutions for manual input of data or a service, without setting the wider guidelines that vendors and designers require to make amendments to the current systems. The brandishing of any system already in place as “legacy” or “incumbent” has created a culture of exclusion instead of embracing the talent and experience that already surrounds this market.
It appears old system selection methodologies are being applied where a complete rethink is required, are we too late?
I am a massive supporter of the London Market, even some of its quainter processes, but I am watching a slow motion unfolding transition, to..... what? “market modernisation?
We all agree it is needed, and already money has been spent in colossal amounts to establish that. Whilst more challenging conclusions have taken place over a pint at the Lamb. So what is it we expect at the end? We see a landscape of initiatives, from PPL to DASTATS, from CSRP and the "bots" to Tax and Clause databases. But has the dependencies and available solutions already in place really been independently evaluated. No question, great time has been spent, in meetings, demonstrations, ITT’s, RFP’s and Workshops, but the “old” way doing things, the process of selecting solutions is no longer relevant and the engagement of teams of consultants and contractors, whilst arguably qualified, all vying for “I was responsible, I made that change” additions to their CV’s, is, I believe, questionable motivation. It takes rare talent to be impartial, the quality of individuals who train for years to rule on merits alone and disregarded any possible personal gain, advantage or renewal of contract is hard to find.
Successful tech is about adoption: Apple didn’t create a phone for white, women aged 21-25 with blonde hair. They created a solution that anyone, from child to silver surfer could use anywhere with a connection. Apps and shareware were the original success drivers of Apple, this has been maintained and driven the astounding success behind all the major tech adoptions. The London Market can't consider itself to be any different yet it still persists in the same old approach: choose a provider based on promises, develop a solution for a sample class of business, get a couple of adventurous champions, prove a concept and then….wait. As I said after all PPL has been a whirlwind success, with market wide take up, adoption and integration... not!
So, whilst that sector grows, adapting to the market forces and pressures of onerous compliance we are waiting for a solution everyone wants, but no one quite knows what it might look like. I make no bones, I am not looking to develop a solution within the TOM framework, but our clients would want to see costs of operations reduce, speed of processing increased and prefer not to have to pay much for it either! IT investment has never been an attractive area for Brokers to focus on. Yet over the years they have been expected to bend and flex to the Carrier Market's demands.
Second to adoption, the other keys to success are interoperability and integration. The chosen solution for any of the initiatives should have basic qualities of usability, proven to work and affordability for all. Compared to the consumer market London is made up of a relatively small number of players ranging from niche operations of 5 or so staff to thousands of employees. The MGA market growth has, in itself, proven that entrepreneurial spirit is far from dead. The repetition of the crystal ball projection that soon there will be only one broker, forgets that fundamentally the role of an intermediary goes by many names and they are brilliant at adapting.
Now I believe the market has an opportunity to ensure the choices it makes will succeed. History is relevant if only to learn from.... let technologists focus on what they are good at, after all you don't ask your plumber to cut your hair. The market deserves a solution it can see now, nothing that requires building or bolting together, we need a supplier that is prepared to collaborate with all the other providers to take the whole market forward without promoting protectionism or exclusion, where it is focused on the integration services as much as the product itself. We want to trust it is developed by people from inside this strange and beautiful industry, but most importantly the solution is usable by mere mortals from day one. The iphone concept.
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