TDI Point of View: Lack of digital culture now an existential risk for insurers – virtual L&D is the key
Accelerating the journey to a digital culture is an existential decision, and must start by making the business case for focused investment in digital insurance L&D as soon as possible
Addressing the perennial problem, and Achilles’ heel of L&D
Let’s be frank, when dealing with a ‘traditional’ CFO on the importance of Learning and Development (L&D) for employees, the question we all dread is “show me the ROI”.
In this PoV white paper we accumulate the evidence available, as well as provide tools and approaches to help you get your L&D budget approved to support the successful digital transformation of the insurance company you work for, through accelerated cultural change. We will use the TDI Academy virtual L&D programmes on digital insurance as an example to bring this to life. We hope this approach is of use beyond digital transformation for insurers, and perhaps more widely for those aiming to get their L&D programmes approved.
Seven factors to consider when making your L&D business case
- Digital transformation is an urgent business priority – The world has changed and digital transformation is no longer something to be done slowly – it is now urgent and pressing. Start you business case by aligning it to the core strategy of digital transformation
- Companies must change their culture – History firmly tells us that digital transformation efforts that don’t introduce a digital culture don’t succeed
- L&D is a key change agent – Well-structured L&D programmes on digital insurance can help create a new environment for accelerated cultural change and capability uplift
- Digital has changed the game for L&D – Modern, virtual L&D programmes can, for the first time, reduce the cost of delivery while at the same time provide global access to the best industry experts. These new programmes offer lower cost, higher quality, and increased effectiveness that is difficult to beat
- Make the hard dollar business case –
There is a hard dollar ROI that can be illustrated – but all need to acknowledge that some assumptions are not easy to prove
- Communicate the soft dollar benefits – Just because something is difficult to measure doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a lot of value. Fight your corner on this
- Measure and manage the outcomes through excellent execution – Show that your L&D budget for digital transformation is efficient, effective, measurable and targeted on the priority needs of the business
Let’s examine each of these points in turn – and build our case for L&D in digital insurance.
1. Digital Transformation is an urgent priority – but it is not trivial
This has become crystal clear as a result of COVID-19. But the evidence before that was also very compelling. Figure 2 below shows the key long-term trends driving digital transformation.
However, despite the clear and pressing need, according to Everest more than three out of four digital transformations fail, and McKinsey estimate the failure rate at 70%. So how are you going to beat these odds?
2. Companies must change their culture
Many leaders will be tempted to look for the shortcut – hire in a new team of digital experts, bring in some top-ranking consultants and make the budget available to accelerate digital transformation. All good enough, right? Unfortunately, these moves are a necessary but not sufficient condition for success in digital transformation. Figure 3 below from McKinsey identifies culture as a key barrier to digital transformation.
Research from the Boston Consulting Group goes even further. Figure 4 above shows conclusive research showing that companies that neglect culture change do not report success in digital transformation.
The evidence is clear, and if your leadership team is about to sign off on their annual budget in digital transformation, they must hold off until they are sure they have a plan and commitment to adopting a digital culture.
3. L&D is a key change agent
Not surprisingly, introducing a digital culture is multi-faceted and multi-year and requires sustained commitment. Figure 5 highlights 12 factors identified as key to introducing a digital culture.
As you can see Heidrick & Struggles identify continuous learning as the second most important factor after empowering leadership.
L&D targeted towards building a common understanding of digital challenges and opportunities in the insurance industry among management teams can help accelerate towards a new culture, empower leadership teams, as well as taking the first steps to addressing skills gaps.
Through lack of choice, online L&D has focused on the generic skills training from digital platforms such as LinkedIn and Coursera, which are excellent to a point – but miss the more specific, and more job relevant learning that a specialist digital insurance course brings to staff.
Fig 5: 12 META factors to support digitisation. Source: Heidrick & Struggles: building a digital culture
Fig 6: Companies are acknowledging the problem and taking responsibility to solve it. Source: McKinsey: retraining and reskilling worked in an age of automation
McKinsey research, figure 6 above, reinforces how important the need is to address digital skills gaps and the proactive role many companies will play in retraining staff.
So now you have made the strategic case and identified L&D in digital insurance as a key change agent. We now need to secure the budget and summarise the benefits.
4. Digital has changed the game for L&D – making cultural change easier & cheaper than ever before
It has been clear for some time that virtual learning is powerful as it both allows global access to talented subject matter experts, increases the ability to monitor engagement and reduces the cost of L&D. Figure 7 shows how this is playing out in terms of increased investment in online learning.
Fig 7: Switch in mix of learning. Source: Linkedin Learning: 2020 Workplace learning report
So when you make your case for virtual L&D you need to ensure your recommended programmes are impactful, effective and affordable. Some of the design principles to adopt when creating virtual L&D programmes are outlined in figure 8 below and should be applied to internal virtual L&D programmes and/or partners you work with.
Fig 8: Modern design principles for virtual L&D. Source: The Digitial Insurer: the future of learning in a digital world – design & implementation approaches for the insurance industry
It is particularly worth calling out the importance of an integrated platform allowing for lifelong/continuous learning. A recent Forbes article on L&D offered a great summary of why it is so important: “As with any digital transformation initiative, L&D can’t follow a ‘set it and forget it’ approach if it’s going to deliver ROI.”
At The Digital Insurer, lifelong learning is particularly important as technology changes rapidly and new use cases emerge all the time. We address the need for lifelong learning by creating a pyramid of learning content, figure 9, that allows learners to move from a lifelong knowledge programme into specific programmes on digital insurance. Our approach is to design programmes on a virtual basis blending recorded and instructor-led sessions. In that respect we are not fans of the artificial divide between online learning and instructor-led learning – we see these converging and blending according to learning needs. Post-completion access to the latest course content along with incentives for continued engagement are used to encourage and enable lifelong learning habits.
5. Make the hard dollar case – but with a note of caution
If your business case has been well constructed your leadership team is now ready to look at the financials.
The two key hard dollar drivers most commonly used to drive ROI discussions are:
i) Impact of L&D on increasing retention – Figure 10 provides some evidence that increased investment in L&D increases staff loyalty, and;
ii) Impact of L&D on increased productivity – Figure 11 provides some evidence that companies investing more in online L&D show increased productivity.
Fig 10: Increased retention via investment in L&D. Source: LinkedIn: 2019 Workplace Learning Report
Fig 11: Link between higher productivity and investment in online L&D. Source: Udemy state of the art of ROI of learning point
Figure 12 on the following page is an example of a hard dollar ROI calculator we have for our TDI Academy programmes. Our hard dollar approach identifies the direct price of the programme, any travel expenses and the lost productivity as the main costs, and models benefits using estimates on increases in retention and increases in productivity via participation in the programme.
A copy of the calculator is available here if you would like to adapt for your own business case – it also lists some of the soft dollar benefits that make up the case.
There are genuine reasons to suggest hard measurement of ROI on L&D should be met with some scepticism – it is very easy to pull apart any hard dollar assessment. The quote below from a learning provider perhaps provides the more extreme perspective.
The TDI perspective is that there is no harm in estimating hard dollar benefits as it provides finer granularity on the outcomes needed to justify investment. However, we wouldn’t base a decision to invest on this alone – we believe that the soft dollars combined with active management of outcomes delivers much more value. In addition, it is more straightforward to make the case for a switch in existing L&D budget to areas such as digital insurance where the need and benefit are high.
So let’s move onto the soft dollars benefit next, and wrap-up looking at active management of outcomes.
6. Communicate the soft dollar benefits
Just because something is difficult to measure it doesn’t mean it is not valuable! Be proud of the soft dollar benefits of your L&D programme(s) and bring them to life with a clear benefit statement that can include:
- Accelerate digital culture
- Develop organisational digital capability
- Develop people capabilities
- Motivate and engage people
- Build an employer brand to attract and retain talent
- Create a digital culture that includes life-long learning
- Network effects and positive impact on other staff
- Increase probability of digital transformation success
The data in figure 13 below from LinkedIn provides some qualitative assessment of the impact of increased learning.
Fig 13: Committed learners have more focus and purpose. Source: LinkedIn: 2019 Workplace Learning Report
Fig 14: More Learning is good. Source: Josh Bersin: research shows explosive growth in corporate learning
Not surprisingly there is also clear evidence that more learning is good for employees and good for the company, figure 14.
So now you have made the case and the leadership team is getting ready to sign off. The last thing you need to do is show you are going to proactively measure and manage the outcomes from the investment made.
7. Measure and manage the outcomes
When a decision on a suitable progamme has been made it remains critical to execute successfully. Here the key success factors are:
i.Communication of available L&D opportunities
ii.Selection of the right people to attend the programmes
iii.Monitoring and reporting on employee engagement and outcomes
Figure 15 outlines the methods used for successful communication with staff on programmes, and we see that a combination of digital channels combined with line manager support can deliver the best levels of awareness.
Fig 15: How to engage with employees. Source: Linkedin Learning : 2020 Workplace learning report
Selection of employees for courses is always a challenge and in practice involves a balance between individual engagement, which can be tested in advance with shorter online programmes, business need, and available budget. However, one way to ensure L&D budgets are spent well is to proactively monitor engagement in online programmes and act to counsel, or sometimes remove, those falling behind.
Figure 16 shows some of the ways that L&D professionals use to monitor the impact of programmes.
Fig 16: Measuring the impact of online learning. Source: Linkedin Learning: 2020 Workplace learning report
At TDI we also use some additional performance levers including:
- Impact journals from participants so they reflect on their learning and how it can be used to make a positive impact on their careers and within their companies
- Encouraging participants to write assignments that bring value to their organisation – making the assignments vocational in nature is a great starting point and allows participants to apply their learnings and take it back to their businesses
- Offering sponsoring companies to nominate L&D and business level observers to experience the programmes directly and get a perspective of quality and value directly
- For larger clients, blending external experts with internal experts to create more customised programmes that remain agile and low cost
- Lesson by lesson feedback to get increased granularity of participant feedback and outcomes
Next time you have that L&D ROI conversation with your leadership team, get onto the front foot and respond with some of these points:
- History has shown us that most digital transformations fail
- So much money is wasted because organisations fail to create a digital culture and invest in new skills and capabilities that unfortunately don’t show up directly in a traditional balance sheet
- With new digital technology, virtual L&D is offering an even higher ROI and can help to enable change in a way that few other activities can
- Virtual L&D is a necessary enabler for the number one priority facing leadership teams in the insurance industry – accelerating the digital transformation of the insurance industry
- There is enough evidence already to support ROI on instructor led models – and virtual models offer the prospect of even higher returns by both further increases in effectiveness and quality as well offering reductions in cost
We hope this article provides ammunition to win over any remaining sceptics who don’t believe in the fundamental importance of people in digital transformation and the development of a digital culture. Good luck with your digital transformation efforts!
How Can TDI help?
1. L&D Programmes – TDI has a range of online L&D programmes on digital insurance that have been tried and tested with great feedback by some of the largest insurers in the world
2. Execution – We will help ensure your programmes are rolled out and monitored to ensure results, as well as help you build the internal business case
3. Lifelong learning – Our platform is designed to allow staff to engage in lifelong learning and remain up-to-speed as digital transformation accelerates
So, please reach out to TDI to discuss how we can help. Now, more than ever, is the time for all of us to work together, to accelerate the digital transformation of insurance. And life-long learning on digital insurance needs to be a key part of the journey.
Let’s get this transformation done
The TDI PoV series supports learning for the digital age and is part of the TDI Academy, which includes the world’s first virtual mini-MBA and professional qualification in digital insurance.