Disrupting Industries With Design Thinking

Before the Great Fire of London in 1666, fire insurance was not viewed as a necessity for citizens. However, with the fire displacing 90 percent of London’s population, the need for insurance became a given. In the years that followed, design thinking for issuing policies and keeping track of accounts remained virtually unchanged. For example, terms and conditions are virtually the same as early policies. In addition, paper remained the primary record for every transactions or policies.

Everything changed when mainframe systems began to take over in the 1980s and 1990s. As a result, digital files have been replacing paper stacks ever since. The problem was that every insurance company created their own system. For example, each company would deploy a team to change their system for future enhancements constantly. The problem is that the product design would stray away from its original intent. Furthermore, the original employees retired and none of the new employees had experience with the system’s bespoke coding.

Fast-forward to the early 2000s; the founders of Guidewire set out to solve this problem.

First, they established two clear goals – customer success and upgradeability. To accomplish this, the founders created a workable platform that created a common language for system structure. Unlike the bespoke systems of the past, Guidewire is a universal solution that applies automatic updates for multiple clients.

Many people in the insurance world were immediately at odds with this approach. For example, Guidewire controls the underlying code and the overall product roadmap. As a result, systems professionals who were used to doing things their own way were confronted by a new solution with terminology that was intended for mass adoption.

In the end, Guidewire selected willing partners who understood that their platform represented the future of doing business. Most importantly, this example shows the power that new design thinking can have on completely reinventing an industry.

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About the speaker
Jeremy Henrickson Member

Jeremy is responsible for the product, engineering, and design functions as well as emerging business units. In that capacity he has helped build the teams that create products to accelerate the advent of an open financial system.

About the host
Boone Spooner Google, Product Manager

Boone Spooner is a customer obsessed Principal Product Manager at Caavo - a device designed to simplify and unify your home entertainment system. Previously he built products at TuneIn where millions of users listened to live music, sports and talk radio shows, podcasts and audiobooks. In another life he worked as a music producer and engineer in San Francisco where he managed the largest recording studio in San Francisco, before building and launching his own. There he worked with Apple, Google, and KFOG and musicians Steve Earle, Alanis Morissette, Death Angel, Third Eye Blind and many others.

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