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Drew Whitmore is Shift's Global Head of Partnerships. We asked Drew to give us his thoughts on successfully developing a robust partner ecosystem and why partnerships are critical to ongoing success in the InsurTech space.

Shift: Tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to Shift? 

Drew Whitmore: My career journey has covered various roles, starting with consulting and later specializing in partnership development. Initially, I was a trusted advisor to clients on the creation and execution of their outsourcing strategy. Then I went on to another global consulting firm where I started brokering significantly larger ITO/BPO deals. The management consulting world provided significant exposure to different partnership models and started my journey of learning about the technology market and key providers.

The turning point of my career occurred during my tenure at a data-centric organization, where my involvement in a pivotal partnership laid the groundwork for my current role. At this organization, I grew the partner ecosystem from 40 to over 130 partners, one of which was Shift. Through the lifecycle of establishing a partnership with Shift, I developed relationships with the executive team and was very impressed by their capabilities and innovative approach to detecting fraud.  

The opportunity to spearhead global partnerships seamlessly aligned with my commitment to cultivating meaningful business relationships. When the opportunity arose to become the Global Head of Partnerships at Shift, it was an easy decision to join the company and lead our efforts of growing a partner ecosystem.

Shift: What role do partnerships play in Shift’s business strategy?

Drew WhitmorePartnerships are fundamental to Shift’s business strategy, serving as key drivers for growth and market influence. Classified into three core types– technology, data, and services– each partnership adds distinctive value to our organizational landscape. 

Technology partnerships ensure seamless product integration to enhance the user experience. Shift has forged strategic alliances with many of the leading technology firms servicing the insurance industry. These partnerships function as conduits for the delivery of Shift's products. As more insurers adopt core system platforms, often through cloud offerings, Shift's products gain enhanced value. This is achieved as they seamlessly integrate into the operational workflows of customers, aligning with the industry's evolving trends and preferences.

Data partnerships provide critical insights, fueling our ongoing product development. At the core of Shift's AI capabilities lies the integration of customer and external data. Through these partnerships, Shift can access a myriad of data sources, spanning consumer information, details about vehicles, properties, weather, claimant or applicant fraud history, and various other data assets. By leveraging this data, Shift delivers valuable results to clients, empowering them to make informed business decisions based on a comprehensive understanding of the relevant factors.

Services partnerships refer to organizations that support insurers in the implementation of Shift products and are instrumental in assisting clients in the strategic overhaul of their core processes to maximize the effectiveness of Shift alerts. Comprising systems integrators and management consulting firms, these companies also serve as strategic advisors to clients, which puts them in a position to advocate for the adoption of Shift as the market leader in AI and as a provider of best-in-class product offerings.

Shift Why do you believe partnerships are crucial to ongoing success in the InsurTech space?

Drew Whitmore:  InsurTech ecosystems have undergone significant evolution in recent years. The industry has surpassed a saturation point, prompting a focus on delivering genuine business value within the market. Reflecting this shift, numerous InsurTech providers have either exited the market or been involved in mergers or acquisitions. Those that remain are steadfast in showcasing innovative solutions that insurers can integrate into their business models to derive value.

The key to establishing competitive advantages for a carrier often lies in its ability to swiftly and efficiently introduce new offerings to the market. Ecosystems play a crucial role in enabling carriers to leverage the best-in-class technologies and data solutions available. Striking the right balance between partnering, acquiring, and internal development is essential for maximizing the benefits of an InsurTech ecosystem.

At Shift, we have significantly invested in our partner ecosystem over the past two years. We focus our efforts in the three key areas I discussed previously: Technology Partners, responsible for facilitating the distribution and ingestion of Shift's products into carrier workflows; Data Partnerships, which bring valuable assets into Shift; and Services Partners, that play a crucial role as trusted advisors and systems integrators that align all components with a carrier's strategic goals.

Shift: What does ‘Decisions Made Better’ mean to you, and why is it important?

Drew Whitmore In my role as the Global Head of Partnerships at Shift, embodying "Decisions Made Better" means providing our customers with a top-tier array of capabilities through our partners, empowering carriers to make informed decisions in managing their businesses.

Carriers are consistently in pursuit of a competitive edge, whether through strategic decisions related to market segments, product launches, pricing strategies for new risks, or claims processing. This entails a multitude of decisions, and Shift has cultivated nearly 40 partnerships dedicated to assisting customers in integrating our products to take full advantage of technological and operational capabilities.

Looking ahead, partnerships will assume an increasingly critical role in carriers’ success. The rise of Generative AI is propelling the emergence of new InsurTechs and the rebranding of existing providers, offering customers various ways to invest their valuable resources. One certainty is that partner ecosystems will not only persist as a revenue channel but will also play a heightened role. Granting customers the ability to make decisions and adapt their businesses to leverage partner ecosystems will become a focal point for business success and customer satisfaction in the markets they serve.