Eric Lien | Principal Consultant & CMO at Lien & Company
During the annual IASA conference this year, I took the opportunity to speak with a number of carriers and vendors about some of the insurance industry’s most pressing business issues. In addition to one on one interviews I leveraged an on line survey** to expand the audience participation. When the information was rolled up, this is how their business issues ranked in order of importance.
- Lack of application flexibility
- Increased customer support demands
- High legacy / IT maintenance costs
- Insufficient data intelligence i.e. BI
Lack of application flexibility
This was the top issue this year with our survey audience, reinforcing the fact that insurance systems must be able to quickly respond to changing market dynamics to enable new revenue opportunities. On a positive note, there were a number of core policy systems presented at IASA that leveraged .NET and JAVA technologies with intuitive graphical user interfaces and impressive flexibility to address this issue head on.
Increased customer support demands
At past shows, we saw technology being used to mainly reduce cost or eliminate risk. This year, carriers and vendors were also applying the innovative new technology to help insurers capture new market opportunities. Agents and insured have service needs 7×24, and the conversations about portals and mobile enablement were aimed directly at this. Portals not only can improve an insurers ease of doing business but the self-service features can actually reduce the need for additional insurer service personnel.
High legacy / IT maintenance costs
Legacy application support was a big concern in the conversations and in our survey it still ranked in the top 3. Many carriers attribute this to the older programing languages and their retiring IT talent who have maintained these systems for over 2 decades. In our discussions it was not only the cost of keeping programs running but the existence of a single point of failure and scarcity programmers with industry experience. This perfect storm is driving a high interest in the replacement of core systems with more flexible and easier to maintain architectures.
Insufficient data intelligence i.e. Business Intelligence
Core insurance systems have collected data for decades but today the insurers are looking to mine that data and convert it into actionable information. Many of my conversations on this topic included the desire for improving communication and expanding customer engagement too. Business intelligence (BI) helps a business focus on the right areas, so that resource plan and go to market strategy can be more successful. It is worth noting that both insurers and vendors indicated that they have increased investments in technology over the last few years especially in BI products, core application replacement and user interfaces (UI).
Compare your key business issues with the survey results then review your current business strategies then begin to lay out a roadmap to close any gaps. If you do not have the additional internal resources or specific expertise, do not be discouraged as a number of insurers indicated that they too needed some help. Good news is that at IASA this year, there were a number of vendor partners with both the technical skills and industry knowledge who could help.
Author Eric Lien is Principal Consultant & CMO at Lien & Company and has focused on marketing and business development in the software & technology industry for over 20 years. Mr. Lien has been engaged in the insurance industry for over a decade leveraging marketing best practices and technology lessons learned to drive business results. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*to take the survey and be included in the drawing to win a MS Windows Tablet please go tohttp://tinyurl.com/2014insurancebizissues