top of page

Making SENSE of Commercial Property Risk: The Power of Successful Technology Adoption

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Culture, Purpose, Change & Adoption

Following on from the SENSE white papers on the importance of the Internet of Things (IoT) in commercial property, and our whitepaper on Digital Twins and real-time risk management, this whitepaper looks to address some of the issues and challenges insurers, brokers and businesses face in adopting new real-time data solutions to better manage commercial property risk. Since the IoT whitepaper, Lloyd’s have released their 2020 results - the UK commercial property insurance market suffered a further £2.1bn in losses against £9.2bn of Gross Written Premium (GWP). Whilst this number includes significant Covid-19 business interruption losses, at least £1bn of this is directly attributable to poor underwriting of general property risk and, on top of the £2.6bn loss from 2016-2019, illustrates the size of the opportunity in the UK commercial property market to use technology solutions to mitigate risk and prevent losses. There is clearly a call to action to digitalise commercial property risk management to reduce the total cost of risk and to provide a more customer centric proposition. Yet despite there being ample use cases for deploying digital solutions, and the compelling benefits on paper, getting traction to re-imagine and transform the process can be a long and lonely road to walk down.


What are the blockers to adoption and what are the tips for success?

​It has long been understood that technology alone can not fix all our problems. Technology adoption only works when you put the people at the heart of the innovation journey. From staff, management, to key stakeholders, to partners and definitely including customers, is key to ensuring rapid adoption and maximum success. So let's look a bit deeper into how we engage and motivate the people, through culture, leadership, vision, immediacy and empowerment.


In writing this paper we accept the position that business transformation is a process. Every process has a starting point. A successful digital transformation requires business leadership to establish a clear purpose with a strong sense of urgency.

With today’s innovative technologies of real-time data, IoT and Digital Twins of Risk, we see both opportunity and pressure for change to business models. This is amplified through financial challenges and environmental performance measurements and even the need for competitive differentiation. Individuals, or groups within an organization or industry level such as the Sense Consortium, are coming together and identifying both the opportunity and the need for significant cross-industry improvement. These new initiatives are often founded for the right reasons but to successfully launch and continue to grow with desired results requires senior leadership to establish and lead with a sense of urgency and inclusion.



To create a sense of urgency requires top down consistent communications: crystallising market realities and new opportunities or looming threats. Even with a crisis on the horizon, some people are reticent to move from their traditional comfort zones. Leading people out of their comfort zones often requires more patience and time than anticipated when defining or leading a change initiative. By mobilising the large majority of a management team who accept the need for change and willingness to shift with a new plan, requires a group that shares purpose and is committed to drive the change effort. This requires leadership finesse where short term business results or employee morale typically, should not be disrupted.

It only takes one person to mobilize a community and inspire change. Even if you don't feel like you have it in you, it's in you. You have to believe in yourself. People will see your vision and passion and follow you - Teyonah Parris


In establishing a group to guide the change most often requires the organisation's leader to be an open advocate who supports the creation of a change leadership team. This may not be all of your organisation's executive leadership. In fact, lessons learned indicate having a cross-functional and multi-level team of diverse thinkers who all share in the purpose and sense of urgency to lead change. Depending on the size of your organisation this coalition of change leaders will require a substantive representation across the company -or- industry peer group, to drive momentum. With leadership guidance through a massive transformative purpose, the group will be both aligned and enabled to work outside their typical hierarchy.



A massive transformative purpose is a grand scale vision statement that is aspirational, causing significant transformation to a large group of people, a community, or even an industry that unites and inspires action with everyone involved. The more we organise around a massive transformative purpose, the more dedicated we will be, the faster we can solve big problems and most importantly we will be more fulfilled in the initiatives we are doing.

In 2014, Salim Ismail published Exponential Organizations. In the book, the team analysed the 100 fastest growing organisations and synthesised their key traits. They discovered every single company on their list had a massive transformative purpose (MTP), with a highly aspirational tagline for a group or community or organisation. It is a huge audacious purpose statement that guides the change plan which inspires strategies that will realise the purpose.

Elon Musk and SpaceX serve as a great example for understanding MTPs. Elon Musk didn’t found SpaceX to have a luxurious retirement on Mars or just for the sake of building the most profitable space and satellite delivery company. Musk is driven by the belief humans must become a multi-planetary species. Making this reality is his purpose.

MTPs are huge and aspirational. MTPs engage people's hearts and minds to work together to realise their goal so they are clearly focused and unique to a group or to a company. It is intended for transformation and is forward looking and applies exponential technologies such as Real-time data, IoT, Analytics and Digital Twins.

Having a massive transformative purpose (MTP) requires consistent clear communications where the organisation leverages every possible communications vehicle to communicate and promote the purpose and the vision and strategies to achieve the MTP. Leading by example and over communication are necessary to continue driving momentum.

Successful transformations grow the involvement of broader groups of people. Employees become emboldened to try new technologies or processes and lead by example with confidence and purpose. Having a MTP encourages risk taking with new ideas, new processes and actions.


Immediacy (and quick-wins)

Reality checks remind us of the responsibility to plan and create near term small successes (quick-wins). John P. Kotter in his book Leading Change, published by Harvard Business Review, notes “it is necessary to define and engineer visible performance improvements. Lead by example and reward and celebrate small wins with employees and partners that contribute to these improvements is requisite. Experience indicates this is an important momentum builder”. Leaving short term successes to chance or failing to score successes within the first 12 months of a transformation change effort will make the whole transformation journey feel much harder.

Risk Management & Built Asset Optimisation Combined

A quick-win example from our own recent experience was as a result of changes in building usage and occupancy through Covid-19. With fewer people using offices, a client decided to change the level of air conditioning in their buildings to reduce the level of energy usage. Whilst on the face of it, this was a good idea and because of the installation of IoT devices, they were able to directly monitor the impact of changing temperatures across the facility. It turned out that air conditioning levels needed to be maintained in the IT server rooms. By reducing the air conditioning, this caused a strain on the air handling units in those rooms causing an increase in the humidity, a degradation in the operation of the Air Handling Unit (AHU) and an underlying fault to develop. Although the changes were made for the right reasons by one set of decision makers, the impact could have been catastrophic for specialist equipment which needed to operate at lower temperatures than the rest of the building. A quick-win as this was noticed sooner rather than later when the impact would have been far greater.



With a massive transformative purpose and a guiding coalition it's easy to say never give up. Change is hard and there is no sugar coating this reality, changing culture and process requires energy, planning and more energy. With small wins, these provide the opportunity to produce more momentum with more change and adoption which only consolidates more improvements and wins or successes. This increases the group’s credibility but be forewarned... declaring victory prematurely after early performance improvements will only embolden the late adopters to remain as they were.


​This raises an interesting perspective on how to build a group or workforce of relentless change agents in the absence of pressing need for change. Values based management can galvanise people and energise them though purpose based on values. Consider Lou Gerstner when he took the helm at IBM Corporation where so many people thought the mainframe business was healthy. One could argue, they transformed the company into an integrated services and solutions provider. Values based management helped to maintain people’s commitment to change with constant adoption through living their values. As companies like IBM understand, values based management can enable people to respond quickly with agility.


In summary, change will stick when it becomes the new normal way of achieving results. Until new technologies, new processes and new behaviours are rooted in the cultural norms with shared values, transformation efforts are subject to degradation if or when the pressure to never let up is removed. Those that are purpose driven will never let up and continuously lead by example and engage. Success will come where it’s important to leverage these solutions to continue to grow innovation into the culture. From there it becomes a norm to assess, adapt and evolve. Beyond innovation, great new technologies and a compelling leadership vision, there are 3 key ingredients to transformation: People, People and People. By engaging your staff, your partners and your customers, and delivering clear vision and quick wins, you can ensure that the adoption of Real-time Data, IoT and Digital Twins of Risk will deliver real change to the commercial property insurance sector as well as turning around many years of losses into sustainable profit and greater customer engagement.

By focusing on practical business ideas, a bold vision and quick-wins, and deeply aligned to the various stakeholders’ goals, change can be driven by:

  • aligning the purpose, goals, capabilities and processes necessary to achieve the desired improvement in risk management performance objectives;

  • delivering wider benefits around environmental sustainability, social and governance;

  • retaining a focus on the bottom line and short term return on investment by combining IoT with the delivery of the existing building facilities management;

  • creating an ecosystem that connects strategic capital investment programmes (Capex) with the day to day budget of the facilities management (Opex).

The insurance driven change should not be viewed in isolation to the existing built asset management, ignoring the wider business benefits and impact. Use cases can bring together existing programmes of work with advanced technologies to serve today’s business goals, while helping the end customer improve their built asset performance, improve user experience and meet regulatory objectives.

243 views0 comments


bottom of page