Jun 8, 2020 in Exploratory
Technology Futures

Executive Summary

Nobody would argue with the fact that planning of technological development is an important consideration for any business. That is why innovative planning is closely related to managerial, operational, and financial challenges. Accenture company is suggested to develop a new technology for customer retention in insurance companies, which is why analysis and discussion of all related components is pivotal for such initiative. The following paper gives a profound account of the development of this technology and challenges associated with it. The paper covers managerial challenges, applicability of project management, operations management, information systems, training, budgeting, and development of work breakdown structure. The paper also justifies the technological and managerial feasibility of the project and outlines the selection of basic technologies needed for designing the innovation. Overall, the paper outlines the main challenges and respective solutions to them in terms of the initiative.

Evidently, justification of the suggested innovation is mainly based on the fact that contemporary digital marketing is proactively used in the sphere of insurance business. Therefore, Accenture is recommended to design a new technology of a customer retention digital tool for insurance companies. This market niche is almost untapped, which is why Accenture is likely to obtain innovative leadership. The following paper suggests that Accenture should create a complex forecasting mechanism on the basis of mathematical probability model for categorization and retention of existing or former customers. Generally speaking, the technology will connect specific offers to customers according to their profile information, life events, and previous history of service purchases. Accenture will have to design an intelligent mechanism of customer selection and communication at a specific event using all possible means of contact: smartphone, email, social media, etc. Accenture is capable of meeting such requirements, but it will need 5 years to make considerable progress regarding the innovation.

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Technology Futures

It is hard to argue with the fact that contemporary technologies keep developing day after day. This tendency, however, is not chaotic, as long as each business, industrial, or other technology-dependent entity plans future technologies beforehand. Planning of innovation and technology is a complicated process, in which internal capacities should be aligned with the current needs for design of new ways of performance. Furthermore, planning of innovation depends heavily on sufficient investing, so that many investing banks become aware of all aspects of the future technology and guarantees of its value. Information technology services and consulting company address Accenture, which is suggested to launch a project of designing a customer retention tool for insurance companies. Thus, the following paper focuses on discussion and description of this initiative from the perspective of project management, as well as operational, managerial and technological issues.

A contemporary state of digital marketing demonstrates an active revival within previous years, so that reliance on information technologies has become a common practice in marketing. Digital marketing has successfully penetrated the sphere of insurance business, so that many IT and consulting companies produce various technologies to address marketing needs of insurance agencies. However, the issue of customer retention is still unaddressed in a technological and managerial sense, which is why Accenture is suggested to make a break-through development in this regard. Some designs of customer retention tools, however, already exist, but they are insufficiently effective for the complete optimization of digital marketing. That is why Accenture is expected to design a new technology, which will include a collection of all customer data and process it according to specific events or other details of the available information. The processed decisions should be connected to the former customers of insurance agencies with an offer of new services or prolonging of an active policy.

Managerial Challenges

In order to discuss managerial challenge for the suggested initiative, a complex scoping and design should be emphasized. First of all, insurance customer retention is expected to involve a specific unaddressed gap, which can become a source for scoping of entirely new technology. Thus, the main question for the innovative project is to identify customer relationship stage, at which customers start losing their interest in insurance services. As a result, a need for customer retention to the company’s services is based on understanding of this mechanism. It is becoming increasingly apparent that resolving of this issue has to comply with the respective technological, organizational, and strategic perspectives of insurance business. That is why management in all fields and their attachment to real-world structures is quite complicated, especially considering the fact that this knowledge should be encoded and modeled to achieve specific business targets and objectives.

Therefore, the second challenge arises. Provided that the company is clearly aware of what knowledge should be integrated for the development of new technology, it is also essential to know how this knowledge and subsequent data inflows/outflows will be managed. Computing, storage, transition, communication, and business intelligence applicability are the main aspects of any intelligent marketing technology, so that the company is supposed to enhance them within 5 years. That is why related logic and technical challenges should also be observed. A choice of data categories, ways of their interpretation, and the retention mechanism itself should be aligned with strategic management of each insurance company, so that Accenture is expected to create a flexible tool. Beyond a doubt, Accenture will have to develop an entire mechanism of storage, computing, and business applicability. Addressing specific needs is the most common objective of any technology, which is why it is fair to note that the technology has to be attached to specific preferences of an insurance company and its customers.

Project Management Applicability

It is also becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that such high-profile initiative should be implemented in terms of a respective project. Hence, all constraints of IT project management are applicable to Accenture’s innovation for insurance customer retention. In such a way, the following aspects can be applied. First of all, the aspect of communication management should be considered. Transition of data between insurance company and customers is a vital component of any digitalized business, which is why optimized communication is needed. Cost management is also present, as the project includes substantial expenses on technology, resources, knowledge, etc. Allocation of costs is essential in many respects, as long as the appropriateness of expenses determines timely delivery of the project and its final value to the potential customers. Furthermore, costs determine the schedule of the project, which is equally important for the initiative.

Proactive participation of human resource is a preexisting factor for successful implementation of the project, so that human resource management should also be deployed. Motivation, innovative leadership, training, and promotion of an up-to-date view also belong to comprising elements of IT project management, being applicable to Accenture’s case. Such a large-scale project may need some outsourcing, so that procurement management is also a fundamental element of the initiative. It is better combined with the responsibility assignment management, so that early engagement of contractors would have a positive impact on the project’s outcomes. Eventually, quality assurance and risk management should be considered, since the project deliverables have to meet a specific standard, meanwhile following these standards may place the initiative in adverse environment of arising risks. That is why prediction and mitigation of risks are always included in high-profile projects and assessment of the project deliverables’ quality. Overall, these aspects are applicable to Accenture’s innovative project.

Operation Management Applicability

As for the operation management, it is also expected to face numerous challenges. First of all, development of a forecasting model is needed because it is a fundamental function of the future technology. The company will have to apply a specific mathematical probability model, which will predict a need to contact a particular customer according to his/her profile and type of previously ordered insurance. These forecasts should be attached to the activities of customers, which is why a tracing mechanism should be developed. That is why maintenance and deployment of the insurance company’s strategic preferences is a responsibility of Accenture operation management in terms of the information technology. Encoding and creation of a specific platform for computing operations and storage is the responsibility of Accenture, so that working with such a large project may pose certain challenges to operation management and thus lead to technological excellence of the initiative. At any rate, these challenges are natural and justified in comparison with the project’s deliverables.

By the same token, the record of data, its transition, storage and applicability to business models of insurance companies also present an operational challenge for Accenture. At the same time, establishment of connectivity to managerial executives of insurance companies is also an operational task, since various insurance agencies will deploy the technology using different modes. Design of an integrated database with multi-platform access is a common task for Cloud technology developers, but it should involve better integrity with the insurance company’s marketing and strategic models. It is informative to note that these challenges will be present within the entire life-cycle of the technology, once it is implemented in various insurance companies. Hence, Accenture is a strong tool for the development of the best practices for this technology; otherwise, the final value of this initiative will be unjustified, and operational challenges will keep emerging on a regular basis.

Information Systems Applicability

In regard to the use of information systems for the deployment of new technology, it is necessary to admit that the technology itself offers an information system, which is why the use of IT is a direct creative procedure. The technology will need a particular Cloud or Big Data platform for storage, transition, and computing of the customer information. The platform is expected to involve a certain mathematical model for probability calculations. That is why applicability of basic information technologies is quite apparent for Accenture’s initiatives due to its specific orientation in this field. The information system is expected to deliver accurate and safe business data for customer retention in insurance companies, which is why coding, maintenance, security, and hardware installation are required for this initiative. These aspects can be largely present during the project implementation, as Accenture demonstrates its operational excellence in this regard.

Moreover, the aspect of data security is an independent element of information technology in appliance to the initiative. Safety of data used for customer retention tool is supposed to involve basic considerations of cyberattacks, physical damage, malware, and insider threats. Therefore, the innovation is supposed to include the custom means of data security and authorization. This aspect may follow specific requests of insurance companies, which is why a custom standard for data security is a distinct way to sustain reliable data protection. Generally speaking, the innovation is expected to use a simplified form of Cloud computing or Big Data, so that they can be implemented in an insurance company of any size and type. Optimized software and hardware-free maintenance evidently presuppose the proactive use of information systems for data processing, security and storage. These components can be achieved and measured by Accenture, so that the aspect of information system appliance is not a challenge.

Assignment of Project Team

As long as the initiative is expected to serve for 5 years, it should be started by the most committed and enthusiastic talents of the company. Stakeholder management is an independent constraint of project management, since the creation of cooperative incentives aligned with the project’s vision has to include a common vision shared by key leaders of the project. Creation of incentive structure is a preexisting requirement for the project team assignment because this system determines allocation of specific tasks to each group. Provided that Accenture utilizes outsourced participation, early contractor engagement is recommended. At any rate, Accenture needs to indicate specific objectives of the initiative and develop a flowchart for the completion of all basic tasks. On the basis of these allocations, project teams should be assigned with respective activities. The project should be coordinated according to particular behavioral and knowledge features of each team; otherwise, forced project implementation will not result in positive outcomes.

A different issue related to the assignment of project team is the promotion of change within the organization. It becomes clear that the workforce is often unwilling to accept any changes even if they work for an innovative company. That is why a change should launch an entire program, which will involve regular newsletters informing about change (project) milestones, reminders, and guidelines aimed at measuring success of the change. As a result, allocation of change agents should become a responsibility of team leaders, who will also serve such function. Guidance of the subordinates through training programs and adoption are the most challenging factors, which is why assignment of project teams should consider this perspective. Basically, organizational aspect of the innovation development can be managed through a stakeholder approach and adequate implementation of change in the innovative environments that are less resistant to changes in comparison with other business entities.

Training Needed

Concerning the need for training, first of all forecasting modelling should be adopted. It is based on the mathematical calculation of probability, so that the developers need to acquire knowledge in new areas even though forecasting tools have been already developed for various technologies. Customer retention tool works with numerous dependent variables, which is why identification of probability becomes a more complicated task. That is why adoption of a forecasting mechanism requires additional training regarding the factual use of the selected probability model. Input data will be custom for each case, so that categorization of these information is crucial for the developers and maintenance agents, who will operate the technology. The use of a forecasting model implies not only theoretical mathematical knowledge but also technical awareness of respective coding and interpreting of data. These two aspects are fundamental for the innovative technology, so that workers responsible for this function have to undergo appropriate training.

Therefore, development of skills aimed at tracing customer behavior will be also needed, as long as the company is suggested to launch a new tool for customer retention. Human factor should be embedded in the marketing mechanism of the technology, so that recognition of basic behavioral patterns in relation to customer retention is essential for such technology. Developers as well as potential customers should participate in such kind of training, as they are the key executives and recipients of the innovation’s value. Eventually, the entire workforce is required to undergo training for safety, disaster management, and regular software/hardware maintenance of the technology. Still, this training differs from other technologies produced by Accenture, since the digitalized platform will be deployed in a new business setting. Therefore, the threats and technical implications will arise differently. Training is a part of the project implementation, so that this step should be initially outlined by the project leaders.

Work Breakdown Structure

As any project, Accenture’s innovative initiative should provide a work breakdown structure in order to allocate activities and tasks in terms of the project. Thus, the project is expected to include three main dimensions of WBS, namely prototyping, development of technological base, and optimization of organizational force. Prototyping presupposes development of a forecasting and retention mechanism as well as a general principle of connecting insurance customers with respective offers of new insurance services. Technological basis will be created through the establishment of a platform for computing, storage, and transition of data within the network. This aspect is closely related to prototyping, so that many tasks will be subdivided between project teams. The third dimension is organizational change, which consists in the provision of milestone tracing, guidance, and training. This aspect should not be neglected, because organizational culture has a direct impact on the technological performance of the company.

Budget

Concerning the budget for the project, it is worth saying that Accenture does not plan to overestimate the value of the project in order to save costs and its competitive force in case of failure. That is why the budget will not exceed $10 million. The company has to rely heavily on its knowledge base and the pool of talents, so that stakeholder management is the best solution for cost saving and optimization of expenses. In such a way, the technology itself is provided with $5 million with consideration of expenses equaling to $1 million per year. Accenture is also recommended to spend $2 million on human resource within 5 years in relation to the development of the customer retention tool. Nonetheless, the initial prototype will need approximately $1 million for all expenses. Eventually, administration, promotion, and distribution of the final product may need to spend $2 million within 5 years for advertising, hiring of new specialists (if needed), and training.

Conclusion

The above paper has described and discussed the suggestions for Accenture’s development of new technology within the following 5 years. The paper has suggested the design of a digital customer retention tool for insurance companies, as this market niche is untapped, and Accenture is capable of fulfilling such initiative. That is why the paper has provided a profound account of managerial challenges, applicability of project management, operation management, information systems, training, and assignment of project teams. By the same token, the paper has described work breakdown structure for the respective project, and has estimated the budget. The company will evidently face certain challenges regarding management, scheduling, and even scoping of the project, but it is informative to note that such a high-profile project is feasible for Accenture due to its present expertise in the sphere of information technologies and digitalized marketing instruments.

It is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that Accenture is able to complete the project within 5 years. This period is quite relevant to the amount of work and research to be completed. The study has identified that managerial challenges of this project are generally based on the complexity of the technology. Developers are supposed to create a mechanism with multiple independent variables and categories of data, so that the first prototype is predicted to undergo considerable updates. Hence, 5 years is a sufficient period for designing such a complicated network. At the same time, technological progress is expected to simplify Cloud technologies, so that computing and storage platform will become more flexible in relation to modeling and maintenance. These initiatives will obviously facilitate the implementation of the project. Nevertheless, various organizational changes will require proactive deployment of stakeholder management for the creation of favorable conditions for adopting new culture of performance.

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