The year’ Sense and Respond’ risk became a reality


By Sean Pyott, MD of thryve


“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Winston Churchill, a quote that surfaced numerous times during 2020 – the living embodiment of crisis. I even used the quote in one of my first blogs of the year (Crisis vs Opportunity during the pandemic), though I didn’t feel comfortable with the broad-stroke nature of such sayings. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that big picture views only take you so far, and many situations require real nuance.

How nuanced? Just look at how risk management has changed. For as long as I’ve been involved with the industry, there has been frustration that risk remained a business black sheep. Risk registers were considered the main necessary precaution.

Then the pandemic changed all that, revealing how external risks can impact us yet stay outside our sphere of control. Even as I write this blog, the future is still uncertain. Yes, there are vaccines, but there are no guarantees. Responding to that, companies now increasingly define integrated risk management by both risks and opportunities, and with a lot of emphasis on strategic input (How COVID-19 affects a CEO’s view on risk).

At thryve, we were lucky enough to have a front-row seat to this emerging trend. Companies of all sizes now want to adopt more proactive risk, what we call “sense and respond” risk management (Beyond aspirations: how do we create ‘sense and respond’ risk management?). Risk managers now have a seat at the table (The risk manager is now hot stuff. Where to next?), and the big question is: how can companies build on this capability? How do they adjust their cultures and become more responsive to their environment?

Those questions popped up frequently in several thryve blogs written by my colleagues, and it’s a topic I also looked at (How do you build a data-first company?). If I had to chance on a guess, I believe that 2021 will be about answering those questions and helping our customers make the changes that will help and support their agility in the long-term. 2020 sparked a digital land-rush as companies desperately needed more flexibility and insight to manage remote working, threats to the business and other issues. 2021 will be about solidifying those gains and adjusting them to be sustainable.

thryve also evolved in 2020, strengthening our position to help our customers with those journeys. We added the integration platform Flowgear to our services, which improves how quickly we can incorporate new digital services with existing systems at companies. Our analytics offering expanded to include Tableau, which was subsequently acquired by one of our major partners, Salesforce. Another significant thryve partner, Riskonnect, expanded its stable with the specialist integrated risk management platform Xactium.

Internally, we migrated our cloud systems onto Microsoft Azure, leveraging the best of hyperscale cloud for our home-built insurance management applications. Additionally, we added NexisLexis’ compliance and legal information for Africa to our Riskonnect offerings. thryve also became ISO 27001 compliant and certified, recognising us on an enterprise-level as taking the utmost care of customer data.

thryve continued to expand its operations internationally, implementing GRC solutions for large enterprises in Italy, France, and Zambia. We are also working towards completing thryve’s GDPR compliance, preparing thryve for even more expansion.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. It took a lot of grit and determination to get through the worst of it. I am very thankful to lead a company full of driven and motivated individuals who kept going despite it all. But 2020 has also been good in some ways. It showed that investment in digital is the way forward, and it helped companies realise new value in familiar practices, such as risk management. Maybe old Winston was right after all…