Oct 2020

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Defining a new vintage normal and successfully adapting for leadership

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Aug 2020

The strategy for the new normal would be a continuous work-in-progress adaptation combined with innovative cost-efficient varieties of work-from-home contactless frameworks.
Mazen G Abouchakra, Managing Director, Gen Re, MENA & East Mediterranean 
A post-pandemic world is described today as being at the cusp of defining a ‘new normal’. What is normal and what is not? We are living with many unknowns and a lot of uncertainty during this time. 
Historically, adapting to any ‘new’ environment was by applying efficiently economies of scope and scale whilst maximising shareholder’s wealth. This continues to be attractive however with the addition of the social responsibility aspects and the focus on human resources in the last few decades to complete the corporate scene. 
More recently, behavioural components were emphasised in the entire client-relations spectrum. Having said that, what I see in the post-pandemic time wagon is a series of modern-lit innovative technologies ‘collage’ in a vintage patch-like appearance forming a mosaic of touchless transformations having robotics, biogenetics and AI technologies at the core of the new system.  
The new landscape 
How do we build a fitness for change that will help the insurance industry navigate the ‘unpredictability’ successfully and innovatively? How do we prepare for this patch-like normal and lead the way? We need to set the scene for this new collage where people do not seem to travel much around the world, yet their calories burnt are transformed into cryptocurrency which can be exchanged or bartered against insurance units within life and medical real-time insurance products initiatives. 
I can imagine more awareness about our health status and generations looking for adequate integrated living benefits modular covers. Mental management will become a major tool to improve performance alongside tele-underwriting and telemedicine tools. 
We have learnt many lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the major lessons are to set priorities, not to take things for granted, and to look at what really matters. People will appreciate the environment more and increasingly become advocates for nature and ecosystem preservation. The strategy for the new normal would be a continuous work-in-progress adaptation combined with innovative cost-efficient varieties of work-from-home contactless frameworks. 
How can we distribute preventive wellness programmes and associate them to protection products that are adapted to the new priorities? We will be avoiding the risk more than managing it. Digital transformation offering scalability and flexibility will become a key differentiator. 
The challenge would be how to define the new normal environment in a descriptive and legal manner. I bet it would be challenging to see how digital data-driven technologies would co-exist with data privacy. We need to keep things simple as the lifespan of products would be short-lived. 
There is a dire need to preserve intellectual investments and collaborate with companies with evidence/research bases. The opportunity will arise once we succeed in redesigning the ‘business as usual’ modus operandi and expand digital marketing horizons. 
Leaders need to secure true digital engaging designs and tranformative applications rather than electronic versions of paper application forms. One key element of success is the degree of readiness for convertibility and adaptability. Any resistance to change or business as usual will be dramatically fatal. There will be many new opportunities – we need to invest smartly in research and development to cater for future needs and to develop superior adaptation capacity in order to successfully surf the giant waves and weather the storm. Calm seas never produce skilful sailors. M 
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