Four Ways Every Company Can Be A Disruptor
When you think about disrupters, some common examples often come to mind: Uber replacing taxis and Airbnb replacing hotels. These are companies that drove significant industry changes. And these types of wholesale shifts have given the disrupter label an infamous reputation. Many people hear the word disrupter and think about something getting replaced.
But what happens when you shift the narrative? Disruption is a good thing. At its core, disruption isn’t about replacing. It’s about looking at industries, businesses and processes and saying, “How can they be improved?” All companies—from startups to legacy institutions—should consider themselves disruptors in order to grow continuously.
A Disruption Success Story
My business operates in the insurance industry, where there’s an exciting perspective on disruption. Many insurtechs began with the idea that they could replace insurance agents—the intermediaries between insurance carriers and policyholders. Many people initially thought it would be the end of insurance agents. But something interesting transpired: Agents weren’t replaced by technology. Instead, they were often empowered with digital solutions, making them more efficient and digitally adept. And some of the insurtechs that initially bypassed agents have embraced them as a valued distribution channel.
We are now seeing similar trends in business insurance. Commercial underwriting is the process insurance companies use to determine rates and policies. It traditionally involved underwriters who research businesses manually, combing the internet and other resources to answer fundamental risk questions and determine policy rates—a prime opportunity for technology and new thinking. Insurance carriers today are using data analytics and artificial intelligence to accelerate manual research and turn insurance applications around more quickly and accurately.
As the founder of a startup built on reimagining manual, inefficient processes, I know firsthand that a disruptor mindset can improve an industry. All companies can take a page from this playbook to grow. Here are four ways every company can think like a disruptor.
- Have a plan, but let your customers guide you. There is no perfect product or solution. Customers are constantly evolving and buying new capabilities and service experiences. Companies need to be ready to adapt to meet their expectations. Think about how some big companies began. Amazon started as an e-commerce platform for books. Netflix was a DVD rental service. Companies can’t be too stuck on their current game plans to take customer feedback. You may have started as a solution or service provider to help with one problem, but your customers need more. When I founded NeuralMetrics, it was to help insurance companies speed up risk assessment. But as we worked with our clients, they kept telling us book rollover and premium audit were also big pain points for them. We realized the flexible AI and machine learning tools we used for identifying business classification and answering risk questions could also help alleviate those challenges, so we built new capabilities with the same foundations of intelligent and disruptive technology.
- There’s no need to wait for the big idea. Small changes can be disruptive. That is exactly how I entered the insurance industry. Many solutions were already available that used AI and data analytics to speed up underwriting. However, none enabled full transparency, sharing all the sources used to prefill answers to the underwriting questions. We thought a solution that broke the AI black box could be a game changer, so we set out to create one. You don’t need to boil the ocean to have a major impact.
- What you don’t know is powerful. A company shouldn’t be confined to the expertise of its leaders. Be open to different approaches. I entered the insurance industry with a team of technology specialists with no prior insurance expertise. We added team members and partners who had rich insurance experience. Look for partners who can bridge your company into new territories.
- Ask, “What’s next?” You may have just launched a new product. Or you entered a new market. Great, it’s the perfect time to ask yourself what comes next. The discussion should always focus on building a robust, prudent roadmap for the future, keeping the customer at the forefront. Make sure to build a team that shares the same mentality. Encourage everyone to share how they think the company can grow and continue making an impact.
It’s time to shift the narrative for disruptors. All companies must align their culture, values and goals with innovation to evolve, grow and meet their customers’ needs, staying relevant and making a significant difference in their industry.
Prakash Vasant is CEO of NeuralMetrics, a 2022 FinTech Global top 100 technology company driving innovation in the insurance industry.
This article originally appeared in Forbes and has been republished with the publication’s permission.