I recently sorted through just shy of 2,000 inquiries that Forrester analysts completed from insurance industry clients, from a grim Q1 2009 through the cautious optimism at the end of Q1 2010. Along with the insurance inquiries, I also looked at what was on the minds of bankers and the Global 500 segment during the same period. 

What jumped out was how different the character of questions from insurers was from the other two segments and how differently each segment (and role!) of the financial services market navigated the economy over these five quarters. So what’s the Reader’s Digest version? 

  • Bankers of all stripes were most interested in benchmarking and best practices. The level of attention on benchmarking did change over time. Beginning in Q3 2009, banker interest in what peers were doing and questions around risk tailed off, and questions around consumer behavior and competitive differentiation accelerated as bankers focused their attention on growing the business. 
  • Insurance was all about risk management. It didn’t matter what kind of risk — vendor, technology, project, information security, even job perils — and benchmarking and best practices questions followed. And even though the economy was on the recovery track, insurers didn’t ease up much on the risk management pedal and hadn’t shifted into growth mode at the end of Q1 this year.
  • Insurance eBiz pros were banker-like in their questions. What was on the minds of insurance eBusiness professionals mirrored the focus, cadence, and pacing of the 1,200 banking inquiries we fielded— in other words, growing the business by doing something better for customers and prospects than competitors did.

This last point shouldn’t be a surprise considering that, first, many insurance eBiz pros came to insurance from other industries and, second, their jobs are about driving sales across channels and leaving other roles to sort out the riskier stuff. Key takeaway? eBusiness strategies, though they have industry nuances, are more alike across industries than different.