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Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Updated: Jan 18, 2023

There's a bit of perplexity among claim executives today. When they talk with their colleagues, who are also their competitors, they are all pretty much experiencing the same story. Yet, none of them have significantly changed their business development strategies. Aside from some special markets, the new tech-driven competition isn't posing a significant threat. So, what's behind this market change everyone's dealing with? There doesn't appear to be much evidence of our market moving.

Welcome to your new world. The tornado ride from Kansas to the World of the Wide Web took 33 years, but you are not in Kansas anymore. In this world, companies/brands no longer own their clients. Companies can no longer dictate what consumers want or buy. Consumers can no longer be treated like monolithic blocks that will automatically accept what the Brand presents them.

The Internet landed 33 years ago and brought a few gifts that have fundamentally changed the balance of power between the individual consumer and the Brands. The consumer has taken control over what they want. They are now in control of when they want their services and products, how they want them delivered, and what they expect to pay for them. Most importantly, consumers now demand a change in how they are treated. In this world, if the Brands don't deliver, they become irrelevant to the consumer market and disappear. As you read this, your world is turning on its ear.

The first gift was connectivity. It started slowly, primarily internal to a few small groups, but the connectivity quickly spread worldwide. Today virtually every consumer is connected to everyone and everything else. With connectivity came the ability for the masses to communicate on any topic and share diverse thoughts and opinions. The combination of connectivity and communication opened the door for communities to develop where folks of like minds shared experiences, ideas, and beliefs. The culmination of connectivity, communication, and communities enabled people to experience the power of choice over what they want or don't want, like or don't like, and will accept or won't accept.

These four gifts (connectivity, communication, communities, and choice) allowed consumers to merge their power and exert it over the brands and market. They now own the market.

A few of my favorite outcomes include the change in the process of banking. I no longer have to stand in a long line at the end of a business day to do my banking. Thanks to the Internet, if I need to deposit a check, I take an image of it from my app, and it's in the bank. Another colossal advance is that you no longer have to go to a car dealer and dance through all their annoying and transparent games. Today, you can pick up an app, describe your old car and the vehicle you want, get an offer, accept it, and the paperwork is simple. The best thing is, they bring a simplified sales document, your new vehicle, and take away your old one. No games. No secondary upsell pressures—just service.

However, the most significant innovator in the internet has been Amazon. I can be anywhere and remember I need something/anything, open my app, find it on Amazon, order it, and I'll likely have it that afternoon: no shipping cost and free returns. Amazon is an invisible service. They deliver what you need, when, where, and how you need it. And most often, they offer the best price, which you know because you can shop the price online. There's no song and dance, just delivery of an essential service.

What this means for you, is that if you think your old competitors are still your competitors, you're wrong.

Here's the thing, within five years, probably 40% of the current industry leaders will either be gone or relegated to virtual irrelevance. Rather than responding to the signs, this group will hold that their market is based on trust, relationships, and history. While trust, relationships, and history continue to be essential values, they do not stand up against the power of the consumers to clarify their expectations and move their patronage to businesses that will respond to their requirements.

But, this outcome of the internet might make you think about where you left your Xanex...

If you look at how society has changed over the past few years, you cannot help but realize that change is unrelenting and unfolding quicker than just a few years ago, and it's only gaining momentum. Here's what's underway right now... The people you think of today as your buyers are losing the powers and freedoms they once had. They find themselves being driven by the wants and demands of their consumers: employees and injured workers. Not only that, but this process is also underway in your company. What do you think is driving the Great Resignation? These issues are driving virtually every actor along your value chain. This includes your clients, employees, senior and board-level management, and critical vendors. This is fundamentally changing the role of the executive in the near future. Authority is shifting from the top down to the bottom up. The Chinese Curse, "May you live in interesting times," is upon you.

EHS has been addressing these kinds of issues since 2009 with claim organizations. We have tools to help you deal with this transition as it impacts key elements of your company. We would enjoy the opportunity to visit with you and help you get your arms around these changes.

Thank you for your attention

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