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Deb Smallwood, SMA
Deb Smallwood, SMA

Setting the Stage for Innovation, Part 3: Leverage Next-Gen Technologies

In the final part of a series on encouraging insurance IT innovation, SMA's Deb Smallwood talks about how technology can be an enabler of new ideas.

Philosophers have debated the question for ages: What came first? The chicken or the egg? A similar question arises when we think about today's technology: What spurs this surge of rapidly developing and advancing technology? Is it the need for new ways to solve problems, or is it the technology itself that spawns new offerings, approaches, and solutions? If the latter is the case, then the need to discover how to use the next-generation technologies becomes a different challenge – how to deploy the technology, harness its power and potential, and turn it into new ways to make businesses better, more efficient, and more profitable. The answer is simple. Innovate!

SMA has conducted extensive research into what is driving innovation in the insurance industry. More than a third of the insurers participating in a recent SMA survey say they have transformational game-changing objectives in mind, and are planning investments in major operational improvements. And, next-gen technologies will play a big role!

There are three fundamentals that insurers must embrace to create and foster a climate for innovation within their organizations. This blog addresses how leveraging next-gen technologies can help set the stage for innovation.

Leverage Next-Gen Technologies

Next generation technologies such as social media, mobile technologies, and collaboration are being increasingly utilized in insurance innovation efforts. The key to success lies in unleashing creativity and infusing it with information – especially with new insights gained from sophisticated analytics. Next-gen technologies, including mobile, collaboration, analytics & big data, social media, and cloud, are not only catalysts in the innovation process itself, they become part of the new processes and systems.

How do insurers plan to make use of next-gen technologies over the coming three years? More than 75% say they will increase IT spending in mobile technologies. Investments in analytics & big data and collaboration technologies follow closely behind. About 50% of insurers plan to increase spending on cloud computing and social media. Insurers see analytics & big data, mobile, and collaboration technologies as having the highest potential to be game changers.

It's time for every insurer to look closely at how their IT investments are influencing and nurturing innovation. Next-gen technologies need to be taken seriously. They offer tremendous opportunities to enable the small actions that seed the big picture, and produce the greatest returns.

About the Author: Deb Smallwood, the Founder of SMA, is recognized for her expertise in investing in technology to influence competitive advantage in the insurance industry. She offers a fresh perspective on how business capabilities can be enabled to meet strategic goals. Exclusively serving the insurance industry, Strategy Meets Action blends unbiased research findings with expertise and experience to deliver business and technology insights, research, and advice to insurers and IT solution providers. Deb can be reached at

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