Think Globally, Act Locally – Insurance Isn’t Immune
For decades you have listened to leaders, politicians, environmentalists, and scholars tell us as global citizens to “Think Globally, Act Locally.” We’ve heard this quote repeatedly, urging us to consider conditions of the global environment when making small, local decisions. Perhaps you heed its message in certain aspects of your personal life, and maybe you don’t. That is obviously your choice. But when it comes to your business, that decision carries much more influence.
How and with whom you do business is critical because your business partners’ overall business strategies can alter how your company operates and how digital information is used, stored, tracked, and secured. Unrest and bad actors halfway around the globe can influence even the smallest of small business owners back here in the United States. Most business owners like to think that what they do is local, that what happens 500 miles, 1,500 miles or halfway around the world doesn’t affect them, but it does.
Here are two examples of a global player forcing local actions.
Recently, the United Kingdom (UK) bared Chinese–owned Huawei for its 5G cellular components in cell towers and mobile phones. The UK Prime Minister banning the use of the Chinese tech giant’s equipment in high-speed wireless infrastructure was a severe blow to Huawei and was a victory for proponents of the Western power over Chinese technology. If you boil the decision down, the UK didn’t feel comfortable with China having a foothold into security, opportunity for espionage, or the ability (presumed or factual) to disrupt telecommunications within the UK. Fair enough.
Whether you use TikTok or not, chances are someone in your immediate family does. With over 800 million active users worldwide, there is no denying that it is a powerhouse app. However, its ownership by the Chinese Government came under considerable scrutiny – even before President Trump announced the willingness to ban the app. In fact, it was such a threat that all US Military Personnel were banned from installing the app on government phones in Dec 2019. Every keystroke, every piece of content, every video could be transmitted to the Chinese Government. Why? Because the Chinese Government owns TikTok, has access to the app’s data and lacks the laws and moral standards to protect user data.
China’s track record in playing nice in the technology world isn’t stellar. From blocking internet servers from displaying known historical facts to their citizens (remember Tiananmen Square) to outright IP theft (CNBC – 1 in 5 Companies Claim IP Theft), the Chinese government does what it wants, when it wants, and there is very little, if any, global legal recourse.
What does this have to do with insurance, the domestic insurance market, or even your clients?
Well, this is where “Thinking Globally, and Acting Locally” makes a big difference. What you buy, with whom you do business, and how they do business has a direct impact on your business. We, in the insurance industry, are entrusted with a tremendous amount of personal information and client data, and we spend an enormous amount of time ensuring that that data is safe and secure by using encryption and blockchain. Access to this data is why safety and security protocols of the countries in and with which we do business must have the lowest possible risk of global tampering.
We don’t think twice about doing business in the United States because of the protocols, laws, and standards of doing business that are accepted and in place here. Sure, there is data theft, but we don’t worry about Google or Microsoft lying to us and capturing and storing every user’s keystroke and then giving that data freely to the US Government for them to use as they see fit. Nor do international businesses who do work with US companies worry that the US will steal their data or share any data with the US government.
We, in the insurance industry, are the stewards of security. We provide the financial blanket that wraps around every aspect of life, from Personal Lines to Commercial Lines, Employee Benefits, and everything in between. From small policies to gigantic, from simple to complex products, we owe it to our customers to not only provide that security blanket and sense of well-being and safety. but also ensure what whatever partner with whom we do business shares those values. Our business partners must make security a focus and priority in their business, their offices, their infrastructure and in their global workforce.
There is always risk in business but reducing the risk to areas that you can control is critical. It is time that we ask the question globally so that we may support our customers locally. When you are evaluating an insurance outsourcing solution partner, think globally as you act locally – it is more important than you think.