Innovation in social media: RIMS 2010

RIMS Conference 2010

You don't get to be in business 128 years without drive, motivation, and perhaps most importantly, innovation. These qualities have kept insurance giant Chubb at the top of its game for more than a hundred years, but it's not satisfied to rest on past successes.

This thinking is what brought Chubb Chief Innovation Officer Jon Bidwell and his team to the realization that "we are not going to find the path out of the recessionary desert by doing the same thing over and over."

Bidwell charted that path for a crowd in Boston Monday, April 26 at the 2010 Risk and Insurance Management Society annual conference. He told reporters how Chubb's innovation program brought all the players in the company together at once in order to get a sense of what was going on in the market and, in the end, offer new products faster than their competitors.

To demonstrate how Chubb pools the collective intelligence of its workers to improve processes and reduce costs, it is co-hosting an online event powered by Imaginatik that is centered around the risks of social media. The event is open until the end of the RIMS conference, April 29.

Bidwell said Imaginatik and its software platform, Idea Central, have been crucial to harvesting and sifting thousands of ideas that can be applied to Chubb's business practices and help "give you a sense of precision when you go to market."

Mark Turrell, CEO of Imaginatik, said that is part of the value of a successful innovation program.

"If those producers are going out to market to sell product, it makes sense to get them involved," Turrell said.

According to Turrell, the larger crowd can often present a better solution than a handful of higher-ups thinking of ways to innovate.

"Experts really don't have a good batting average," Turrell said. "We're looking at the end of the tyranny of experts."

Also at the RIMS conference, Frank Goudsmit, Chubb's Vice President of Life Sciences, unveiled a new product developed through Idea Central that will help life sciences companies deliver life-saving products to market faster. The online system, called Chubb WORLDcert, simplifies the process for obtaining clinical trial liability insurance documents around the world.

Goudsmit said the race to market for patented drugs is high-paced, and any time lost could mean millions of dollars lost for companies. This streamlined approach expedites the insurance-form process, and can lengthen the time in which a life sciences company holds patent exclusivity.

High-speed innovation has been a regular outcome of Chubb's idea management initiatives. The company rolled out its first collective intelligence event in 105 days, and involved 10,000 employees. Bidwell said the event resulted in 600 new ideas, five of which were funded. To date, Chubb has pooled more than 3,000 ideas, many of which have led to process improvements, billing improvements, and with the open social media event, the company is applying its open idea-generation opportunity to the pitfalls and risks of social media.

"We've got to figure out a way to manage a world with no privacy," Bidwell said.

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