As a corporate speaker, I often ask audiences a simple question right off the bat: Who says innovation has to be costly or difficult? Like leading organizations continue to prove in increasing numbers, often times achieving successful innovation simply requires a slight shift in perspective.
Case in point: L&T General Insurance is a full-service health, property and casualty provider. Part of a $12 billion business group, it’s about the last place you’d expect to find executives taking risks, let alone huge ones. But recently, it decided to play a large gamble – making a run at India’s nationwide insurance market.
Just one problem… Serving the country’s population, which is spread between huge population centers and remote villages, required a revolutionary solution: Something affordable, accessible, reliable and – most importantly – capable of working on a massive scale.
Luckily, as your favorite corporate speaker can tell you, all L&T had to do to solve the problem was look in its pocket.
You see, over 900 million Indians now carry cell phones, most Internet-ready. And so L&T provided a simple, straightforward solution. It rolled out a cloud-based platform capable of issuing policies, handling claims, and filing paperwork from nearly any device.
In less than two years, L&T went from operating just 10 branches to issuing over 100,000 policies worth more than $28 million. But it didn’t just do this by putting itself closer to customers and offering policies at every price level. It also did so by making itself nimbler and more responsive, and offering a simpler, more reliable solution for serving shoppers in every segment.
Out of necessity, L&T was forced to adapt – it couldn’t simply retrofit a Western model to serve its purposes. Ironically, it doing so, it also combined tactics with technology in such a novel way in an emerging market that it actually leapfrogged many well-established ones.
But then, that’s the beauty of innovation: It’s not rocket science, and the secret to remaining relevant is simply reinvention. See opportunity. Study opportunity. Customize solution. Assess response and adapt.
Of course, doing so requires that we constantly change – but then again, as we corporate speakers always make a point to explain, change itself is the only constant today. It may help to remember, however, that with great shifts in markets and customer expectations also come great windows of opportunity. Clearly, a little more ingenuity is all it takes to capitalize on these opportunities, and transform all into sources of competitive advantage.
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