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Adapt to prepare for the future

Sabine VanderLinden

Sabine VanderLinden

The financial services market is undergoing a fundamental shift.

Evolving customer expectations, complex shifts in business dynamics and continuous technological advancements are happening at an exponential rate.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts: "We won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century - we'll experience 20,000 years of progress.”

There is no doubt that change, and specifically the speed of change, is the greatest challenge of our time.

KPMG is predicting that the auto insurance industry will shrink by 60 per cent.

With the rise and promise of driverless cars from companies such as Tesla, the reality is that this alone has the potential to have a significant impact when you consider auto insurance is more than 40 per cent of the insurance industry as a whole.

How to keep pace with the rate of digital advancement when lumbered with legacy systems, management teams often born before the explosion of digital and an increasingly fickle customer base should be keeping even the most secure executives up at night?

The challenge is no longer just about how quickly you can get a new offering or product and service to market, but it's now about addressing the rate of change in the marketplace so that you can keep pace with the right product at the right time.

Businesses can't afford to just centre activities on solving only the immediate needs; they must be prepared to leverage newer tools within the innovation toolbox to address existing challenges, but also place strategic best bets on the future.

Obviously, innovation isn't a new idea. As long as there has been change, there has to be innovation.

Each original design, product or approach is ultimately an innovation of some sort.

However, as change is exploding, organisations must evolve the way they determine their growth path and adoption of continuously evolving innovation techniques.

The reality is that many organisations have dipped their toes into the waters of innovation without much success, often tarnishing innovation activities' reputation as the powerhouse it can be if done correctly.

Working with startups as an effective way to bring innovation capabilities from the outside-in seems obvious.

However, the reality is that the overall process of engaging external young players can be incredibly frustrating due to incumbent's immature collaboration frameworks or the instability of emerging technology can quickly take a bite out of your optimism.

Similarly, internally, we see many organisations creating innovation teams or building innovation centres.

However, with limited focus on skill-set development and governance frameworks, the results from such initiatives often fall short on delivering measurable, tangible change.

Both tend to lead to the isolation of the team or the practice of innovation from the rest of the organisation.