The United States ended World War II and established the atomic age in 1945. For four very unique years after that, the US enjoyed unchallenged nuclear superiority. During that time, the United States could effectively dictate terms to the world. It was the single biggest competitive advantage the world has ever seen.
Fast forward to last week.
I was on a video call with the owner of one of our partner insurance agencies. One of my favorite things to do is walk people through their first CEO Report and show them things about their business that they’ve never seen before. And that’s what I was doing on this particular morning.
We had turned his agency on (activated them on the Internet of Insurance) a couple of weeks ago. As the system ran and time passed, it started working its magic. One of its most impressive tricks is collecting data that’s hard or impossible to get anywhere else. We compile the most powerful information into a single report just for the CEO, and this was his first time seeing it.
He was seeing information that he’d never seen before about his own company. Information that literally didn’t exist before, in any form, but it was so powerful that when he saw it, he immediately understood the importance of it, and how to use it.
We like to keep a lid on what’s in the report exactly, but just one example that he appreciated is the ability to see success rates across his account team. He’s able to take that information, plus others, and provide coaching, see where’s he’s understaffed, and so much more. It’s actionable, tangible and it’s very easy to see the impact.
This information – data this powerful and unique – gives him and others like him a competitive advantage. He can offer better customer service, his people are more successful and he knows how to grow faster.
I like to call this “nuclear data” because it sets off an arms race when it gets into the wild. This data is so powerful that if you have it and someone else doesn’t, you have a massive competitive advantage.
The Internet of Things was the same. That’s what attracted me to the space. Sensors got cheap enough where we could start to afford to put them on everything, which resulted in waves of new data. This created a revolution in machines from cars to bulldozers, and for a brief period of time the manufacturing leaders in IoT had a massive advantage, until everyone else caught up.
We are doing the same thing (creating true new data) in insurance, because it’s a powerful way to create an impact on an aged industry ripe and deserving of disruption. That’s where the competitive advantage is.
95% of the data that everyone gets excited about is the same data, recycled and polished. Squeezing the juice out of that data has been really hard, mostly because the systems that were built to collect it weren’t built to produce useful data.
But when you actually discover true new data that’s powerful and meaningful, it feels magical. It’s almost like discovering a super power. Imagine suddenly knowing more and understanding more about where the problems and opportunities than anyone in your company. Now imagine knowing more than any of your partners, or competitors.
“Nuclear data”, true new data, is hard to come by. It’s rare and generally spawns off entire new industries (the Internet of Things, for example). Focus on it when you can get it, because it’s rare and in that window of time when you can harness it before everyone else, you’ll have a magnificent competitive advantage.