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March 01 2016 | Deb Smallwood

What an exciting time to be part of the insurance industry ...

Change is coming from all directions and with it comes both opportunity and peril.

Companies outside the insurance industry are placing their bets on what they believe will be "the next big thing" that will be a success and revolutionize the industry (and make them fortunes). They are gambling on their innovative ideas being the agents of change that will flip an industry on its side overnight.

But with every gamble comes the possibility of failure and loss.

In the last two weeks, we've watched it happen. Google Compare shut down its financial services comparative raters. Zenefits imploded. These are just two of the gambles that just didn't pay off. 

Some would say that the house won and the traditional insurance business prevailed ... but not so fast! Google Compare isn’t going away forever. It's just shutting the blinds for now. As Kenny Rogers sang, "You've got to know when to hold 'em ... Know when to fold 'em." And they are folding this hand ... but the game may continue. 

At the same time, many startups, along with their investors and boards, are taking lessons from the mistakes of Zenefits' lack of adherence to compliance and regulation. So in this case, one failure has proven to be a valuable lesson for others looking to place their bets and transform the industry through innovative concepts.

So, while not all of the gambles from outside the industry have paid off as they hoped, it's not going to stem the tide of potential players. They are going to continue to come faster and with greater knowledge than ever before. 

That's why it's time for insurers to innovate, fill the voids, and continue to transform the business of insurance. Those outsiders, with their innovative thinking coupled with naiveté will continue to search for their openings, ante up, and try to turn the industry upside down. You'll need to have a good hand to play in this game.

This is all part of the innovation journey – learning, improving, and adapting. As the year progresses, I'm still placing my chips on seeing more changes coming to the industry, more failures from transformative thinkers, and a sprinkling of successful innovations that will actually change how we do business. 

So stay tuned, continue to read our research and blogs, watch our webinars, and engage in the open dialogue with our partners. Explore the ways SMA services can help you along your innovation journey. After all, knowledge differentiates gamblers from informed decision makers.