Gordon Snell is responsible for Operations & Compliance within the Avantis group, which, as a company, owns a number of insurance broking and underwriting agency businesses (MGAs). Gordon attended the IoD Guernsey - Directing Companies in a Digital World course at the GTA on 12th/13th November 2020 and has kindly provided us with the following case study:
Avantis group is a forward-looking company and we are keen to embrace technology to futureproof our business and continuously improve the services to our clients. We recognise that technology plays a vital role in our existing and future business and, as a keen supporter of technology for better businesses, I signed up to attend the IoD Guernsey Directing Companies in a Digital World programme in November 2020. By attending I hoped to gain further insight into digitally-driven market transformation and the impact of technological advancements on businesses. I also wanted to understand good digital strategy and service/process digitalisation, as we progress on our journey to becoming a digitally mature organisation. The programme was delivered by Gordon Fletcher, Director of Business 4.0 at Salford Business School at The University of Salford and facilitated by Meriel Lenfestey Chair of Gemserv and an IoD Guernsey committee member. It was great to see Gordon being live-streamed from Salford, embracing technology from the offset and both Gordon and Meriel were excellent presenters with extensive knowledge of this topic.
Personally, I have loved the way that organisations have had to embrace technology in the current climate, working from home, using Zoom and other apps to support remote working. Not needing to travel for meetings has worked brilliantly for me personally and has also had real financial benefits to Avantis. Attending the IoD Directing Companies in a Digital World programme really made me consider how best to further digitalise our services internally and externally. It has focused my attention on what the risks are so that I can continue to confidently drive digital transformation through our business. As directors we have a real responsibility to understand and feel confident with the technology we are using in our business, to ensure it is fit for purpose and we also need to understand how this impacts the governance of our organisation.
We as a company recognised early on that the relatively low-cost investment in technology, that was required to ensure our team could work from home, would pay dividends for us in the future. So when the pandemic hit we were able to pretty much seamlessly transfer to remote working through both lockdowns in Guernsey. Not only was this of great financial benefit to our company, reputationally it also did use a huge favour, and there was the added benefit of the increased wellbeing of our staff as a result of a relatively stress-free transition. What the programme really brought to focus for me was the mindset that you need as a business leader to facilitate the rapid change that technology drives and to engender a culture open to digital development. I think that leaders can feel exposed when dealing with ‘technology’ related issues in their business and fear that they will be perceived as having a lack of knowledge in this area. By attending this course you realise that we are all in the same boat. By having the opportunity to share your own experiences on this course and to ask questions around digital strategy, governance and impact of technology on your business, you can really begin to shape some key areas for focus when you return to the office. One of the areas that was really interesting for me to learn more about was social media and its impact on our business. It made me think about how we can better leverage this tool to successfully promote what we do and navigate the pitfalls of poor communication through this medium. Above all this course gave me tangible ways I can ensure that I’m kept up to date with the latest digital development in order to ask the right questions of our IT manager. I am better placed to challenge other members of the board to ensure that the technology we purchase is fit for purpose and is developed in a way that best serves excellent delivery of our products and services, as required by our customers and stakeholders. Like all businesses, the pandemic has pushed through rapid change within our organisation and I’m delighted with how quickly we have been able to respond.
There’s no doubt that with the additional understanding that I have gained from this programme, both myself and the Avantis group are now better placed to push through the adoption of technology within our organisation, further developing a digital strategy that will see our services flourish for our clients. We are more than ready as a business to face the 2021 digital challenges and opportunities.