By definition, Disruptive means “causing or tending to cause disruption”, but in business, it generally refers to “innovative or groundbreaking”. My 15-year son being disruptive in his classroom is not encouraged, but it takes guts to be a trailblazer in the business world. Also, if you’re successful, then the masses will follow.
Who Said a Tiger Can’t Change Its Stripes?
“Disruptive” and “the Benefits Industry” are not phrases commonly used together in the same sentence. More appropriately, the benefits business would typically be described as complacent, unimaginative and self-serving. And why would they change as this demeanour has been very kind to many insurance companies and brokers alike?
That’s why I like to partner with those in the benefits industry that don’t mind turning heads, being pointed at and generally walking to the beat of a different drummer. From a layman’s perspective, most benefit companies look pretty much the same. That would be comparable to vanilla. At least vanilla tastes good! Also, it’s why so many companies’ biggest factor in staying or moving from a provider is based upon price.
The Benefit Industry Isn’t Sexy
Let’s face it; the benefits industry isn’t the sexiest business in the world. We don’t have trade shows releasing all the new-age gadgets and innovations that the insurance business wants to unveil. It’s probably seen as a notch above the banking industry for sex appeal. There are not many kids growing up that talk about their dream job to work in the benefit or insurance industry….at least no kid that I’ve come across.
To work with these innovators and disruptors, you need to see the environment and the people. These offices have a feel more like a technology company than a benefits administration company. The people are passionate, believe that they are leading a revolt within the benefits industry, and making meaningful changes. They love what they do, and it rings loud and clear. As a consequence, they are attracting the best and the brightest minds for a reason. Those best and brightest are coming from outside the insurance and benefits industry. Who better to challenge these conventions than people who come from outside the insurance industry. They are being told to think outside the box, which is where the innovation is coming from.
Transparency vs Confusion
Their products and solutions are challenging how the industry operates. They offer transparency in an industry that until now has been cloaked in mystery and confusion. Innovators talk straight-talk, not typical insurance gobbly-guk and relate to clients in straightforward and understandable language. They treat clients like… clients, and as a consequence, clients don’t look at us like we’ve got two heads.
Clients want to be talked to in real terms, in real English and not playing the game of trying to confuse the hell out of people. As a result, clients are more informed about their decisions and, more importantly, why they are making them. As a consequence, clients are not basing their decisions only on price. Educating clients on an industry that typically has wanted to keep them in the dark is paying huge dividends. It means clients are making informed decisions about why or why not to change carriers and the potential consequences of either decision.
Being Disruptive is a Good Thing
Being disruptive is an attitude that the benefits business has been in dire need of for decades. Indifference towards change is a stake in the benefits industry’s heart and a matter of time before clients start looking for an alternative solution. Don’t think that’s realistic, then look at what Uber has done to the taxi business, and what AirBNB has done to the hotel industry in this country.
Sometimes it’s alright to be a non-conformist, especially when being disruptive is a good thing!