In search of the best innovation platforms for insurance
Innovation, at its core, is about risk, uncertainty, constant change and the proactive seizing of opportunities. By definition, then, an insurance innovator’s journey from point A to B is seldom a straight line. After all, they don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s only the process of experimentation, hypothesis-testing, and piloting that succeeds. The zig-zags of new ideas, pivots, failures and successes are real, complex, and time-consuming. Innovation platforms purport to help manage and plan for a journey that holds so many unknowns.
In this article, we look at the innovation platform concept and share our assessment on the better platforms for use in insurance innovation.
What is an Innovation Platform?
If you’re familiar with innovation platforms, skip down to our analysis of the best choices for insurance companies. If you’re not, though, here is a brief introduction.
Each innovation platform on the market has slightly different features, designed to serve a variety of users and their needs. But, in essence, an innovation platform is meant to streamline stages of your innovation efforts into a digital and more robust process that adds consistency and rigour to an innovation portfolio. In the highly-regulated world of insurance, consistency, rigour and record-keeping, particularly around the risky world of innovation, are especially important.
Some innovation platforms support your ideation efforts, whilst some take you further through the innovation process, all the way to planning and running your design sprints.
One of the headline features of most innovation platforms is the ability to run idea challenge “competitions”. These challenges allow you to use your organization’s collective knowledge and creativity to solve a business problem. This is a tempting promise, especially for large organizations.
Talent in your organization can propose solutions to the problems that you choose as your challenges. These ideas are voted and collaborated on by the crowd. The best and brightest make it to further assessment (sometimes using the innovation platform). Apart from the obvious gain of having multiple new proposition ideas at hand, you also benefit from engaging your wider organization in innovation and sparking the interest of your employees in the subject.
Clearly, these challenges can also be extended to external participants – say, the insurtech / startup scene, or customers/ agents/brokers/clients – via open innovation principles.
The ability provided by innovation platforms to collaborate on ideas is of particular interest for global businesses, looking to avoid re-inventing wheels, and tapping into the power of cross-cultural, cross-market diversity.
Some innovation platforms allow you to continue working on the idea within the platform, as it supports workflow facilitation, task assignment, and even budgeting and financial forecasting. Having all the details of your innovation projects in one place makes it easy to control and track your insurance innovation portfolio.
Few innovation platforms, though, get into any form of innovation accounting, which we normally find has to be held offline.
Ninety’s recommendations on Innovation Platforms for insurance
As part of our work running innovation programmes for insurers, we have searched far and wide to find the best-suited innovation platforms to support insurance innovation. We’ve looked into multiple options, and the choice is not easy. Whilst most platforms offer a similar base set of capabilities, each one is also unique in a number of ways; our recommended options are below, but each organization should match their individual needs against the platforms’ specifications.
At a high-level, our insurance innovation experience leads us to believe that any innovation platform for use in an insurer should have 4 main capabilities beyond mere idea challenge mechanisms:
- a strong product development process,
- good stakeholder engagement mechanics,
- simple, but powerful metrics and analytics, and
- a clear overview of the innovation funnel.
These are all important components in both managing a portfolio of innovation activities, and implementing a culture of innovation.
Features of Ninety’s Top 5 Innovation Platforms for Insurance
The following are our top 5 suggestions for innovation platforms in insurance. We do have a preference within these – get in touch if you want to know which it is, and why.
|Platform/ Feature||Idea Spotlight||BrightIdeas||Spigit||Hype Innovation||Crowdicity|
|Analytics and engagement metrics||x (limited)||x||x||x||x (limited)|
Each platform has something interesting and different to offer. Idea Spotlight, Spigit and Hype Innovation allow the rating of ideas against each other, and have extensive idea challenge functions. BrightIdeas has additional project management, workflow and analytics functions that can help you, not only in selecting interesting ideas, but also in putting them through your internal innovation evaluation and development process. Crowdicity allows you to create internal idea crowds, but also extend those to external crowds, where you can engage customer groups to co-create products. Spigit is well known for their crowd science, and a set of algorithms that ensure all ideas get an equal chance to be noticed.
For a non-insurance analyst’s perspective on the innovation platform market, there is a Gartner Innovation Platform report. The report is of some use, but we did not find it particularly helpful in our research. Our own analysis, summarised above, focuses that generalist analyst perspective directly onto the market that we work in: the insurance sector.
Innovation platforms vary in cost depending on the selection of features, the size of the organization and more. Most prices start, though, around $25,000 for an annual license.
If you’re looking for an innovation platform for an insurance application, get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a chat with our team about what might best suit your organization. In some instances, we can extend a partial discount on license arrangements, as well as help with insurance-specific configurations and meta-data setups.
Using an Innovation Platform in insurance
Whichever platform you choose, there are some things worth considering before you deploy your software:
- Having a platform doesn’t give you a workable process. Make sure you first have a predefined innovation process which you can configure the platform workflow to support. Ninety helps create innovation processes that will match your company culture as a part of the process of deploying an innovation lab for organizations we work with.
- Innovation platforms are generally ill-suited to single-instance idea challenges, in our view. You can instead run a basic idea challenge using emails and surveys with a few departments to see how your employees react to the concept on a smaller scale. Thereafter, an innovation platform may help with scale and automation.
- Not all parts of your organization will create or manage ideas equally efficiently. Consider using something like Ninety’s Innovation Maturity Audit to understand relative levels of maturity in different teams or departments, and use that information to maximise the impact of an innovation platform.
For advice on insurance innovation platforms and more, get in touch with one of our Insurance Innovation Specialists.