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October 10, 2018

Marsh at ITC 2018: Moving Beyond Legacy

John Drzik on understanding where to use insurtech as a business accelerant

Key Takeaway
Established technologies and processes can be both a help and a hindrance

In the second content discussion at ITC 2018 to feature contributions from Marsh, John Drzik, President Global Risk and Digital, presented the broker point of view in a lively discussion of where legacy processes and systems fit into the fast-changing world of insurtech.

The conversation began with the general observation that we're living in an "insurtech moment" with a dizzying and sometimes threatening array of technology. Drzik agrees, but rather than as a threat, he sees insurtech as an opportunity for Marsh, which is, at heart, a people business.  Change brings digital engagement to clients and new analytics to help serve them better.   As he sees it, digital isn't going to be a replacement - it's going to be an enhancement for Marsh.

And Marsh is in the thick of it with Marsh Digital Labs , launched last spring, to act as a hothouse of innovation to do experiments with our clients and carrier partners to bring change to the industry in a positive way.

To be sure, attempts to bolt new onto legacy systems often carry real challenges - in Drzik's view new ventures work best when new they have no legacy components – issues arise when there’s a mix.  Given that InsureTech Connect is a showcase for innovators, then, what advice does Drzik have for them as they try to figure out ways to work with established players like Marsh?  First and foremost, they need to understand the industry and the business processes in use today.  "If the entrepreneur can tell us how it's going to change our business process that's great," Drzik observed, but he cautioned, "Don't put the burden on us.  If we have to do the hard work to figure out how the tech is going to work it's not going to get the attention."

So, what is a pain point that can be addressed?  Consider duplicate data entry, Drzik advises.  Enormous amounts of data sent around in MS Word files, spreadsheets, all using the same data but across different legacy systems.  There’s got to be a way to streamline that.

Looking across the landscape, the conversation then focused on how the excitement around new technologies can sometimes lead to some of them being over hyped.  According to Drzik the issue isn't with the technology, but with the timing.  Advances like AI, IoT, and blockchain will have all have an effect. But when?  Next year?  Probably not.  AI could have some immediate impacts in changing things like the way risks are selected and claims are done. Blockchain may need a longer timeline to bear fruit.    

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