5 Voices on Health, Wealth & Privacy: a Corporate Partner Roundtable
by Atul Kamra
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has catapulted business leaders into making countless transformative decisions, some of which will change their business culture and operations permanently.
As we begin to examine these changes, there’s a common theme we’re hearing among leaders: things will need to move at a much faster rate in the post-COVID world. Our leaders are recognizing that innovation and digital transformation have become necessities for success in the next normal, and that now is the time to take on the challenge of ensuring that they are exceeding customer expectations. To do this, they will need to partner with startups and incumbents alike to evolve and emerge as leaders in their industry.
On May 29, SixThirty Ventures hosted a virtual roundtable to uncover strategies in-use by leading incumbents in Financial Services, Insurance, Healthcare and Information Security as they plan to navigate the post-COVID World and ensure they are well-positioned to lead in the “next normal.”
“5 Voices on the “Next Normal” in Wealth, Health & Privacy” expert panelists included: Ram Nagappan, CIO of BNY Mellon | Pershing (RN); Charles Kim, CFO of Commerce Bank (CK); Dustin Wilcox, CISO of Anthem (DW); Emily Reitan, VP Allianz Life Ventures of Allianz (ER); Atul Kamra, Managing Partner at SixThirty (AK)
Below is a summary of the discussion led by Atul, with key video times and highlights from the video:
Q: (AK) 00:40
How has COVID impacted you as a leader?
A: (CK) 02:06
“It has emphasized the importance of purpose and prioritization.”
Our employees quickly got behind the central purpose of getting money in the hands of our customers to keep the economy going. We moved hundreds of people to work on a brand-new process that they’d never worked on before and were able to process ten years’ worth of SBA loans in ten days. It was really powerful for the organization.
A: (DW) 04:40
“It has made me a purposeful and present leader in the organization.”
I can no longer connect with people just by walking down the hallway, so I have been doing much more one-on-one type of reach outs, making me much more of a people leader than I ever have been before.
A: (ER) 06:53
“It has made me more aware of the need to check in on my colleagues.”
We as humans notice body language unconsciously, but that’s a little harder to do through a Zoom screen. So I’ve tried to be present and check in, ask how the family’s doing, how they’re doing to see if I can get some of those cues through the screen.
A: (RN) 08:58
“It has made me more engaged with my people.”
I miss spending time sitting next to my colleagues, but I’m doing it virtually as much as I can. I am trying to be present and engaged, and to be in front of this. I also think it’s important to make sure we are connecting with the community around us, outside of work. Engaging with the community I live in has really helped the crisis mean more to me.
Q: (AK) 10:04
All of our organizations went into January 2020 with a set of priorities and plans with various horizons. How did the pandemic change your priorities?
A: (ER) 12:53
“We adjusted our long term digital plan.”
We realized that we might be a little behind some others on digital tools and our digital interactions with customers, so we adjusted our long-term plan to achieve this goal much faster than we had planned.
A: (DW) 23:37
“We’re seeing an emphasis on innovation and a higher tolerance for risk taking on early stage startups.”
Our tolerance for taking risk on an early stage startup to help us move faster through the digital age and get to market much more quickly has gone up significantly.”
Q: (AK) 26:45
How has your ability to collaborate with other companies, particularly startups in your portfolio and venture funds like SixThirty changed or stayed the same?
A: (ER) 27:10
“We’ve leveraged some portfolio companies and companies that we’ve met through SixThirty to meet some very specific needs through this crisis.”
When you’re trying to underwrite life insurance, you can’t have someone come into your home or perform a doctor’s visit to check on the health of the applicant, so we’ve had to come up with some solutions for that and partnering with startups has allowed us to do that. The value of a small nimble startup is that they do one thing really well. When the large corporation needs that one thing, they can collaborate together, and keep moving.
Q: (AK) 28:51
Will large corporations reduce their typical cycle time needed to make a decision on collaborating with startups?
A: (RN) 30:40
“You are going to see a lot of investment in the collaboration space.”
Internal decisions are being made a lot faster, but we need to figure out how to bring the conference atmosphere on to a virtual platform to make external decisions move faster.
A: (CK) 36:45
“What we found was in the crisis, you go with the people you know, but we recognize that our scanning capability is going to have to get better.”
We went with people we trusted and were already doing business with, but going forward, we’re going to have to be more open to trying the things we haven’t before. Our scanning ability is going to have to get better in terms of knowing who we can call on when we need them [including startups].
Q: (AK) 37:45
Has the pandemic changed how we think about elements of the value chain, such as customer onboarding and customer lifecycle?
A: (ER) 38:52
“Digital capabilities will enable the financial professionals to free up time and spend more time with the client meeting more of their needs and delivering more value.”
I believe that the value of being in front of your financial advisor and talking to them and building trust won’t change, but then you get to the fulfillment side and I think a lot will change. A lot of it’s just speeding up what we were expecting or hoping. On the underwriting side, there’s been a lot of these new advances that have been coming and we’re seeing mass adoption right now with these new options. That’s wonderful because it makes it easier for the client to get the coverage they need, which is what we’ve all been hoping for. On the backend, these digital capabilities will enable the financial professionals to free up time and spend more time with the client meeting more of their needs and delivering more value.
So that’s kind of the view or the lens that we’re seeing. There is some face to face that needs to happen, but the digital adoption we’re seeing speed up now is only going to help in the long run. It will add more value and give a better experience to the client.
Q: (AK) 43:57
How are you responding to or anticipating the shift in how data moves from both a collaborative and customer relations standpoint?
A: (DW) 44:40
“We know the solution is in population health analytics, and that’s where I’m hoping to see a real leap forward here.”
The biggest problem in healthcare is how do you provide the best care to the most people for the least money. It’s the biggest problem we have to solve. We know the solution is in population health analytics, and that’s where I’m hoping to see a real leap forward here.
There are people across the healthcare industry trying to solve that problem, trying to figure out what data variables are available through your clinical history, your claims history, what are the different elements we can bring together to sort of define the butterfly effect of COVID-19?
And that for me, is a micro use case for solving the macro problem of how we define all these different acute conditions out of that very same healthcare data. If there’s a silver lining in this virus, I hope that it’s going to be that we accelerate very quickly solving all those other acute conditions using COVID-19 as our test use case for doing so.
A: (DW) 49:50
“Setting the data free does not mean removing all controls from that data. It means finding a way to control and secure collaboration for that data. Finding a way to securely combine multiple disparate data sets in a way that still protects confidentiality.”
There’s also a mind shift of …, how do we get past this concept of data being our intellectual property and move to a more enlightened concept of the analytics we use to process that data and predict outcomes from that data.
That’s the intellectual property, not the data itself. And then the third thing we have to achieve is we’ll call it a governance shift in that certainly in healthcare. I think the same is true of financial services. But if we solve those first two problems, the mind shift and the technical shift, I think it leads to the governance solution for the governance problem.
A: (ER) 50:51
“We all need to go back to our regulators and talk about what’s possible.”
That’s the next realm of collaboration that we all need to do, which is go back to our regulators and talk about what the customer’s asking and what is possible. We can still protect that privacy. We need to move the regulation to allow us to meet the customer needs.
Q: (AK) 51:35
How do you see the pandemic impacting us in terms of internal business culture?
A: (CK) 52:27
“I’m hoping that we’ll become more considerate of where people are coming from. We need to get everyone up to a par level in terms of equipment and connectivity.”
I’ve noticed that as you move down in the organization, people’s equipment and their ability to manage a conversation on zoom kind of goes down, and we need to get everybody up to a par level. Somebody working at home may not have as many screens or may not have as good of wifi. So just kind of becoming more aware of where people are, what their resources are, and how that impacts business. I’m hoping that we’ll become more considerate of where people are coming from.
A: (RN) 54:35
“We are going to question a lot of things that we take for granted.”
People are going to question, why do I have to go to a workplace or an office space to do the work? That’s a valid question. That will be a big change. Can I be geographically distributed all over and still conduct my business?
A: (DW) 57:45
“A much better understanding on how each person is important to the organization.”
The overall culture of the organization is the sum of all of its parts, not just the top down leadership in the organization. For me, that is the real opportunity for us to come out of this with another silver lining in the form of a much more people-first culture.