As sponsors of this year’s Suffolk Top 100 Influencer project, we were asked: What are the key business challenges facing the Eastern region? Sean Brownell comments on his ‘Big 3’ covering Brexit, Digitisation and InsurTech.
Challenge 1: Brexit. Greater efficiency needed to offset potential shrinkage of talent.
“We cannot talk about business challenges without mentioning Europe and its impact on the local workforce. Regionally, migration has been steadily on the rise with the energy, export and agriculture sectors benefitting from EU labour. While there is little evidence that EU workers will leave in their droves, a “Brexit” certainly raises big questions. How will terminating membership with a bloc that buys half our exports impact operations at the Port of Felixstowe for example? As employers, how can we arm ourselves against potential skills shortages? These are big questions, with no easy answers. But there’s no doubt that finding new ways to collaborate and increase efficiency will be needed to offset any shrinkage of the talent pool.
Challenge 2: Innovation. How can business harness digital trends such as cloud and mobile?
The second challenge relates to innovation – specifically, how businesses can best transform their business models to harness digital trends (digitisation). As consumers, we are increasingly hungry for Social, Mobile, Cloud and Analytics based services (SMAC). We take it for granted that we can view our bank balances on our mobiles for example or apply for a loan online.
Amazon is an outstanding example of what can be achieved through digitisation. Today, we as consumers are empowered to find the products and services that we want – to rate them, to enter our delivery details and payment methods, and even track our products to our front door. These are jobs that were all carried out by ‘operatives’ in the past – now, we do the work ourselves, without thinking.
Using the new breed of “digitisation” software such as our own LEAP workflow software will enable companies even with modest IT budgets to create their version of the Amazon experience.
Using cost-effective digital models that connect scattered systems, documents and data, these digitisation platforms will empower knowledge workers to think “self-service” first. This significantly reduces the administration burden of the past,empowers employees, clients and suppliers to connect digitally and ensures everyone involved gets a better service.
Challenge 3: InsurTech. Insurers must innovate now, or risk being left at the station.
Financial giants have been quick to harness the digital trend but other industries less so. One notable example is the insurance sector, which has been much slower to innovate. Indeed, many firms still interact with customers just as they did 20 years ago. However the insurance sector is facing a massive wake-up call as technical disruptors turn their focus sharply on the industry.
Known as “InsurTech”, this wave of technology will sweep away old-fashioned operating models in favour of customer-first packages and services. Last year, investors deployed $2.6b globally to tech insurance start-ups, proving that insurance has never been a hotter place to be.
AXA’s investment into Kamet, a €100m incubator designed to deliver “disruptive” services to clients, shows a true commitment to the InsurTech trend. The question for insurance firms is how to ride the innovation train for themselves.
Insurance of course has a long and proud heritage here in the East, generating nearly 10% of the region’s economy. And there are positive signs of insurers embracing the InsurTech trend. Last September for example, AXA announced the creation of Kamet, a €100m incubator designed to help the firm conceptualise, launch and accompany disruptive products and services for its clients.
InsurTech is here – the challenge is how best to ride the talent train – or face being left behind at the station.
What is the Suffolk Top 100?
This prestigious event will recognise and celebrate the achievements of the individuals and businesses who have significantly contributed to the success of Suffolk’s economy over the past year. Based in Ipswich since 1998, FLOvate is delighted to support this initiative. FLOvate will join fellow sponsors including Scrutton Bland, JM Finn & Co and Suffolk Coastal Norse.
To learn more about FLOvate and to discover how our zero-code digital platform can benefit your business, visit our dedicated Suffolk100 landing page.