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Interviewer: Welcome to the team, Joe! Looking at your LinkedIn profile, we get a sense of your success in the industry. But what drove you to the P&C insurance technology space to begin with?
Joe Cannon: My career was built on networking before networking was even a word. One day, back in 2008, I was sitting at a White Sox game with a guy I used to work with and we were talking about me joining his P&C insurance software company. I remember saying to him, “I can’t spell insurance. Why do you need me?” He replied, “Because you can build relationships.” And that’s really how it all began.
Interviewer: And you’ve just rejoined the industry after some much-deserved downtime in Spain with your family. Did this allow you to be more decisive with your next steps or the type of organization you wanted to align yourself with?
Joe: Yes! It really gave me a fresh perspective. I've been working for quite a while, and ultimately, that downtime helped make it very clear who I wanted to work for.
I had, probably, a dozen offers on the table. I sat down with many folks in person before I left to spend time with my family. It made me think about what was important and that I want to work for an innovative company, with folks who are trying to grow it, and for folks who genuinely take care of their employees.
What I loved about Origami, when I visited the offices, was the energy. I thought, “Wow, they're a real company with great energy, a great product, and are unmatched in the marketplace. I want to go help these guys grow.” And that's really what sold me. That clarity I got from being “off the grid” helped me see that these were the right people, at the right time, and in the right place.
Interviewer: And we’re thrilled to have you as a fellow Origamian! Origami aside, what kept you in the industry throughout your career since that Sox game?
Joe: I’ve built friendships in the industry. I left P&C about three years ago, but I’m glad to be back. I enjoy building relationships with people and helping them solve their problems. It’s almost like connecting with a friend, talking about their challenges, and collaborating on innovative ways to solve them. I find that extremely rewarding.
Interviewer: There’s nothing more Origami than a love of solving problems. So, throughout your career, you’ve been helping insurers, risk pools, TPAs, and MGAs to solve some of their most complex challenges. What have been some of the critical lessons you’ve learned in that time?
Joe: The first thing is how many insurance carriers there are and how many folks are out there trying to serve the needs of their constituents, clients, or insureds. With that, I've also learned how hard innovation is.
Carriers, for example, have been doing the same thing seemingly forever when it comes to technology. One of the things I say when speaking with a carrier is, "we're not here to help you recreate 1980. We want to help you think about 2030 differently and help you cut costs and innovate in a way that you haven't thought about before." And that's been a challenge since I started in the industry 13 years ago.
Interviewer: Interesting… Are you finding that innovation is something organizations are looking for or are resistant to?
Joe: Organizations are open-minded at the executive level. It's hard once you get below that because people are very used to doing things a certain way after some time. That change is scary.
I always say it's like getting a new cell phone. Those first few weeks, you hate it. But, once you get into it and understand the phone, you realize, “Wow, I should have done this before now!” So there’s a need to help them to understand that the path, while maybe hard, is better on the other end.
Interviewer: Given this, what’s your current outlook on the industry? Are you seeing trends that people should be paying attention to?
Joe: I look at the multi-tenancy SaaS of Origami. It's new, it's different. I think it's going to help clients do what they do best in a much more efficient, faster, and affordable way. And that’s always the goal: faster, better, smarter.
Interviewer: What are some of the biggest challenges you’re seeing?
Joe: There are a lot of decisions being made right now. When it comes to evaluating a technology, are organizations seeing the real product? Or, in other words, a lot of software vendors tout low-code / no-code. But Is it truly low-code? Is it truly no-code? Can you really move quickly with speed to market?
When it comes to software platforms, I believe what's out there today, in many cases, is somewhat of a mirage. Organizations, unfortunately, have to dig into the details to figure out what they have in front of them and whether that solution is going to be around in two-plus years. I think that's one of the biggest challenges that insurers, risk pools, MGAs, and TPAs are facing.
Interviewer: That’s a valid concern you bring up. So how can one determine whether a solution provider is in it for the long haul?
Joe: Talk to your peer group and look at the organization’s leadership.
You’ll learn what a provider can actually do when you do your homework. Look at the financials. Do they have what they need to survive, or are they simply living on their services revenue, which leads down a short road to nowhere? Or are they truly innovative and have software they know they can continue to innovate with? There is no shortcut to doing your homework here, and resources like industry and analyst reports are a good jumping-off point.
As far as leadership goes, Bob [Origami’s CEO & Founder] has been a guy who has served this industry his entire career. He's built this place from the ground up based on his knowledge of the industry. And because of that, he's shown our clients that they’re important not just to him, but all Origamians. That is what you need to look for in a potential partner.
Interviewer: And what excites you about the future of your role here at Origami?
Joe: I'm having fun! Our biggest hurdle is educating more of the marketplace on who we are, what we offer, and how we can make them heroes, which is an exciting challenge.
When I look at the market today, Origami is replacing behemoths with a large install base that are expensive to upgrade and expensive to maintain. While these incumbent systems might have been the cool kid on the block decades ago, we're now the new kid on the block with a proven multi-tenant, single-platform SaaS solution. The difference here is that the basis of our system won’t age and become obsolete the same way these other systems have.
And, ultimately, we’re here to help people, not to extract fees from them. I think that'll be the hard part for many organizations to understand because that’s not how many vendors in the space play.
Interviewer: Thanks so much, Joe! We’re looking forward to hearing more from you in the future!