Big corporates have a choice: disrupt or be disrupted

06 October 2015 Jaco Oosthuizen, MMI Holdings
Jaco Oosthuizen, Head: Disruptive Strategy, MMI Holdings.

Jaco Oosthuizen, Head: Disruptive Strategy, MMI Holdings.

We all know technology plays a major role in revolutionising the insurance industry. MMI Holdings is part of this revolution by investing in this world-first insurance accelerator programme – and not only as a sponsor, but also by investing time, intellectual capital and strategic guidance.

Our partnership with the Insurance Startupbootcamp is the first of many potential opportunities to innovate that will enable MMI to continue realising our vision to enhance the financial wellness of people, businesses and communities.

Through this partnership, we hope to detect a business or ecosystem that could become bigger than MMI and is globally scalable. The initiative also provides us with an opportunity to learn from the way that start-ups operate, to understand how the landscape is changing at grassroots level and to identify those companies that solve the next big customer problem. Insurance Startupbootcamp is a catalyst to make the existing MMI business even more innovative.

Insurance Startupbootcamp provides big corporates such as MMI an opportunity to learn from the startup space by reverse engineering the entrepreneurial spirit into the business, creating a higher tolerance for failure, agility and reducing unnecessary red tape.

Startups do not have time to waste and large corporates need to move quickly to ensure that they remain relevant. It is very difficult for a big corporate to disrupt itself, even when it's obvious that it needs to. To remain relevant, a business needs to continuously disrupt its thinking and business model. We need leaders who can think outside the norm and make bold decisions. Disruption is not a comfort zone.

Additionally, corporates can help start-ups in a number of ways that are mutually beneficial, including:

• Large corporates can build closer relationships with start-ups and help them refine their strategy, value proposition and market space. Stimulating growth in the economy makes sense for both parties.
• Start-ups could assist with optimising corporates’ legacy systems; stimulating the startups’ growth and thinking.
• Corporates can also assist with providing access to capital for the startups through for example equity ownership

The financial services industry has been very slow to respond to the new network economy, is extremely vulnerable for disruption and is the least trusted industry. It is therefore at the highest risk to be disrupted by new client-centric models that commoditise products, create real-time value and are trusted by clients.

Companies cannot avoid or resist disruption; as the pace of change increases, it gets more risky to have a ‘wait and see’ strategy. You either need to disrupt, or be disrupted.

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