How to Build Digital Agility in the Age of Rapid Transformation


There’s an explosion of innovation happening in the world of insurance or insurtech, at every part of the value chain. I’ve personally been in Fintech for over 10 years and saw the rapid growth of innovation of Fintech in China - to me, it feels like Insurtech is where Fintech was 5-7 years ago. With the global innovation in insurance now happening so fast, I’m sure many CTO’s and CIO’s are wondering:

  • How do I keep up with all new technologies and rapid digital transformation?

  • Which technologies to bet on?

  • Which insurtech is going to provide the best value for our investment?

  • What are the true cost savings and return on investment of the new technology?

  • Will my career be on the line if I pick the wrong technology to work with?

  • How can I tap into new digital distribution channels and ecosystems?

  • Can this insurtech understand my business needs and easily integrate with our culture and current systems?

And I’m sure, there are many more questions along these lines.


First, let’s go back 15-20 years, when it came to insurers investing in technology, spending millions of dollars was justified by the expectation that that technology would be in use for many years. This is no longer the case. With changing consumer behavioral patterns and the rise of fast growing digital ecosystems, insurers are now being forced to innovate not only on distribution but also on product and business models otherwise they risk being left behind in the digital era. Moreover, current core legacy systems and their maintenance of them has created burdensome technical debt (the cost of servicing, maintaining and operating these core legacy systems, recently published article in McKinsey & Co.) that is not only an operating weight on the organization but also a mentality culture setback within the organization when it comes time to embrace change.

So, what’s the solution? How do I know which technologies to adopt and which one’s to ignore? I’m here to tell you the truth: you don’t know what the future holds nor does anyone who tells you that they know better. Even the best technology venture capitalist only makes a home run bet once or twice in every 20 companies that he or she invests in - and they do this for a living. Imagine that you spent 6 months integrating with one of the latest and best AI (Artificial Intelligence) underwriting insurtechs that are out there, then 2 months later someone comes out with a new and better AI algorithm. All that time and resources was wasted while your competitors gain more of a foothold on you - you bet your career on that new technology and put all your eggs in one basket.

My answer to this is simply that when it comes to embracing change, there are winning strategies and losing strategies. Ask yourself, how does my software stack look in 3-5 years, will it all come from one vendor (e.g. one of those large core systems providers) and I am dependent on them or will it be a myriad of vendors where I am currently up-to-date with best of breed technologies where I can continuously innovate, change and use them side-by-side. I hope you will agree that the latter seems to be more like the winning strategy, where the former is most certainly doomed to fail, unless you believe innovation only comes from one place - why has Zoom succeeded when both Google and Microsoft already had competing services. It’s also almost like asking the loan shark who got you into all this technical debt to refinance your loan, they obviously don’t have your best interests at heart. Choosing and buying your software stack and integrations should be like buying new golf clubs (check out this article in medium), i.e. you should be buying the right clubs that fit you and the best in every category (wedges, driver, irons, putter etc…) while having the option to upgrade and buy the latest new ‘clubs’ or technologies whenever you want.


So the real question then becomes: how can I enable this winning strategy and adopt this new mindset of being able to foster and embrace change. Very simply, drastically decrease the cost of integration, new technology adoption and upgrades. Be completely objective in who can actually prove their technology with data and evidence, and less based on faith and trust. To do this, you will need:

  1. Well-documented API’s (Application Programmable Interface) that any programmer can understand and integrate with using any programming language

  2. An easy-to-understand data standard format to allow and control the exchange of product and policy data (podcast detailing this problem)

  3. An environment that can be in Sandbox and then moved to a live production very fast while keeping an arms length to the core legacy system (just in case breeches happen)

  4. A modular open system where any part of the policy administration can be fully customized to fit workflows and desired customer journeys

  5. Be able to start these environments or microservices fast and for different product lines

Besides being able to digitize any insurance product (with our powerful dynamic data model) in just a few days and providing a cloud native full policy administration system hosted in a microservice - this is exactly what PolicyDock provides. We help you free yourself from that technical debt. Now, shift the burden onto new technology partners to impress you with evidence and data - not promises. Whenever a new tech provider comes with a new tool or widget, you now simply just need to say “Here’s our API for you to integrate into our workflows, show me how this delivers value.” Make them deliver today and purchase an insurtech’s services just like you would buy shares on a stock market.

We are your first step to starting a digital, agile and winning strategy.

ARTICLE WRITTEN BY: ROGER YING

Roger Ying is the CEO & Co-Founder at PolicyDock Technologies

PolicyDock is a part of our Batch 4 Insurtech Program in Singapore.

To know more about our programs in Singapore, click here.

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