Why Insurers Should Focus on Intentional Design


Why Insurers Should Focus on Intentional DesignDuring the recent LIMRA Annual Meeting in Chicago, the subjects of innovation and transformation were literally center stage. As we’ve noted in the Aite-Novarica Group Insurance team’s research, we are going through a remarkable period of change in terms of demographics, technological capabilities, and customer expectations. 

These changes are driving digital strategies, which makes complete sense in a world where the alternative would involve focusing on “analog” strategies. That model no longer makes sense, since all business activities are effectively digital, with data as a crucial underpinning. Data converted into actionable insights drives an ability to continuously build better experiences for customers and employees alike.

While digital strategies are important, having a clear notion of what problems are to be solved is critical. These are generally not technology problems, but rather business problems looking for effective solutions. Which gets us to the issue of design. Looking at a problem from the customer vantage point is the foundation for ultimate success, and designing great experiences is not something for hobbyists or the faint of heart.

Earlier in my career, I was accountable for digital experiences for Tier-1 insurers and a top 50 bank. I know good experiences when I see them, but I also know I should never design anything myself. Calling a professional was always my Plan A. For those gifted in this space, good design can be concurrently elegant and simple.

During the heart of the pandemic, one of my indulgences was to focus on a personal interest in vintage BMW motorcycles. This led to what I like to describe as an “accidental” acquisition of a 45-year-old machine that was originally owned by Malcolm Forbes, who, when I was growing up in New Jersey, enjoyed both motorcycles and hot-air balloons in equal measure. He co-owned a dealership which just happened to be located near where I went to undergraduate school. 

The classic Beemer I bought in 2021 was the same machine I saw in that dealership in 1977. Tracing the provenance of this particular machine led me to a chance meeting with the designer Hans Muth, who created it almost half a century ago and is my pen pal today. He still runs a studio in Stuttgart, a mere hour’s drive from where our family in Bavaria emigrated. His body of work, which spans 60+ years and covers a stunning array of products, is tantalizing and delightful in equal measure.

And that’s the point. The experiences that delight us are the ones we remember. They are the products that draw us in for more. They make us smile and encourage us to share them in stories. 

If you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail, please contact me at [email protected]. I’d also be happy to introduce you to my Aite-Novarica colleague Paul Legutko, who created and is director of our Customer Experience practice.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to meeting Hans in person in 2023. That will be pure magic on many levels.