Innovation is dead, long live innovation!

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24 March 2021
Juan Mazzini

Insurers are becoming more pragmatic at innovation

Innovation is not easy.

A few years ago, perhaps boosted by the “insurtech” boom, it became one of the top priorities for many insurers around the world. In the last couple of years though, we’ve seen evidence of insurers moving the innovation function closer to the business and making it part of the day-to-day objectives. With culture consistently being cited by insurers as the main barrier for innovation it makes sense that the efforts have moved into embedding innovation in the organization.

Innovation is like an iceberg, most of what keeps it afloat, is invisible to the eyes and lies below providing sustainability. We are seeing insurers focus now not only in the visible part of innovation, the one which drives press coverage and social media buzz, but in the lower part of the iceberg. The one having to deal with culture, technology, and the day-to-day pressure.

Back in 2017, innovators working at insurance companies would cite working with external firms as one of their main investments for innovation. The first one has consistently been technology. By 2019 the focus had switched to internal resources (and technology 1st). A comprehensive innovation program with a foundation on culture and internal transformation, which then moved to incorporate the external factor is the one in place in SantaLucia (Spain). They are a 2020 Model Insurer and their case study “Santalucía Seguros: Building Digital Skills” is available for Celent research subscription customers to download.

As an alternative to speed up strategic initiatives, some have gone through the path of greenfield. Establishing new business units or companies with a startup approach. Looking to eliminate the barrier of culture and technology, by adopting cloud native solutions and adopting agility at the core, with projects that measure in weeks or months, instead of multi-year programs. These case studies are good examples of such agility:

The case studies from our 2021 Model Insurer program are also a vivid reflection of how insurers are innovating in multiple areas:

  • Data, Analytics and AI
  • Legacy and Ecosystem Transformation
  • Digital and Emerging Technologies
  • Innovation Execution
  • Customer Experience Transformation

We have plenty of research on the topic of innovation if you are interested in going deeper into it.

Moving forward you should expect even more research coming out on this topic by Celent analysts. We will be looking into the three pillars that make innovation happen in insurance, through a series of reports covering emerging insurance models, enabling technologies, and innovation execution.

If you are interested in the topic please reach out to me at and lets start the conversation!

In the meantime, please enjoy the free on-demand material from our recent 2021 I&I Week on-line event. Click here to access our dedicated hub page.


Insight details

Life & Health Insurance, Property & Casualty Insurance
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Insurance, >>Life/Annuities Insurance, >>Property / Casualty Insurance
Insight Format
Geographic Focus
Asia-Pacific, EMEA, LATAM, North America