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September 25 2015 | Deb Smallwood

Another phenomenally successful SMA Summit! According to participants: “unquestionably the best event in our industry”“the SMA message is a catalyst for the kind of change that will help insurers survive and thrive”“day well spent”“content was fresh with lots to take home and use.”

The 2015 SMA Summit: Next-Gen Insurer focused on insurance innovation and transformation with a realistic eye. It was an action-packed day. Participants heard inspiring viewpoints, facts, and figures that make decisions easier and examples of real successes and failures. Next steps became clear with the presentation of new frameworks, roadmaps, and models – all presented by amazing leaders and visionaries from both inside and outside our industry. While the agenda provided ample opportunity to rethink and envision what is really possible for the future of our industry in this technology-enabled, connected world, the program content gave equal attention to how to effectively manage through today’s undeniable realities.

A sampling of the key takeaways:

  • Innovation is a must-have, strategic core mandate. In today’s hyper-connected, technology-driven digital world, those who experiment, innovate, collaborate, co-create, and challenge the status quo will gain competitive advantage.  
  • Winning requires letting go of legacies and traditions. Insurers must turn to an ecosystem of relationships and resources, both internal and external, to rethink the possible, profit from the potential, and cultivate an innovation journey.
  • Culture is a key factor. An environment that embraces continuous improvement is extremely critical because continuous improvement creates a context where change is not the enemy, where change is embraced.
  • An equally critical success factor is having a client orientation. This puts the focus in the right place and creates a common grounding point for change. Companies that will win are those that clearly define who their customer is and then mobilize around the experience for that customer.
  • Maturing and emerging technologies are enabling innovation. Consider IoT. For insurance companies, IoT holds the potential to turn an intangible promise into a highly tangible customer experience.
  • Our industry has always been data-centric. Data is even more important today, but we need to change our culture to shift from data-centric to customer-centric. We need to rewrite the plot with the information that is available – without the traditional and sometimes irrational constraints.
  • Innovation is about trying to get people comfortable with being uncomfortable. The greatest ideas come when we learn to trust the people on the front line. They are the ones that know what is happening and can envision a better way.

The Twitter feed makes it clear ...“innovation is culture, you have to make meaningful, and you have to do WITH customers”


The SMA Summit provides a terrific way for insurance leaders to step away from their day-to-day challenges and pressures. It’s an environment for thinking outside traditional boundaries – for exploring the possibilities and examining the pathways that are working well within our industry. Participants appreciate the unique environment that facilitates networking and presents an opportunity to fully engage with industry peers and thought leaders. This year was a sellout event, much earlier than we anticipated. Take note – it is important to register early to be a part of next year’s SMA Summit.

There is absolutely no question that innovation and transformation are happening in insurance. The results are evident through inescapable facts and remarkable success stories. Best practices are shifting; new paradigms are emerging – all helping and inspiring insurers to innovate and improve – to truly become Next-Gen Insurers. The Twitter feed makes it clear: “in a connected world, there are a whole new set of transactions that are not specifically business transactions in the traditional sense but that need to be part of our modus operandi as we do business as a next gen insurer” … “innovation is culture, you have to make meaningful, and you have to do WITH customers” … “innovation is important and you cannot do it alone”.

For a more detailed recap of the insights at the 2015 SMA Summit, watch for our soon-to-be-released SMA Research Brief: 2015 Summit Recap.