The way the insurance market transacts business is changing. Modern infrastructure now needs to provide new information to improve decision making. New insight, ways of working, M&A’s and the ability to scale are driving uptake of new digital platforms and more sophisticated methods of risk modelling. The cost of inaction now significantly outweighs any barriers to entry that may have existed previously. Fortunately, the integration of new technologies can be straightforward and structured in a way that accommodates multiple circumstances.
Digitalisation leads to a host of new capabilities that can transform an organisation’s view of a market. Transformation often requires investment in technology and changing a company’s infrastructure can expose other inefficiencies that need to be addressed. Every customer is unique, their support needs differ depending on business objectives, reliance on existing technology stacks and employees attitudes to change. Retiring old business practices is a big decision and often instigated by market pressures. In order to oversee the process, you need to have a strong understanding of the client’s current perspective alongside their vision for the future. Having previously worked in the insurance market, I’ve experienced business transformation projects from both the client and vendor perspective. An experience shared by many colleagues who have respectively worked as insurers and brokers alike. Our industry knowledge ensures that we can understand and communicate client priorities effectively with our technical teams.
Integration is a process that often leads to a variety of challenges. It might surprise you to hear that most companies experience similar issues; claims, underwriting, compliance, risk management and many other teams often use different systems. Cross functional working can sometimes suffer if these systems cannot align on simple requirements, such as file formats. This can be further exacerbated by unpredictable scenarios, such as the current lockdown measures in place due to the global pandemic. It’s important to know that any platform adopted will offer resilience in a variety of scenarios and scale in line with future needs.
An efficient process for integration is vital as it does more than deliver new capabilities. It’s typically the first touch point with a client’s team, specifically the employees that will adopt a new way of working. This makes it a key to defining the ongoing relationship with the client. We often find two approaches to integration depending on circumstance:
1. Integration into existing infrastructure using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
2. Deployment of a new platform, completely revamping company software
Some organisations may decide to add individual capabilities over time for several reasons, including phased investment. As such, they’d usually opt for augmenting existing infrastructure whilst phasing out older systems over time. This can help to control costs and the learning curve for employees. An API determines how software systems interact and can be used to provide specific features to existing software, supporting such a roll-out. Others who are looking for a more holistic approach with immediate effect will likely adopt a new platform in its entirety. Whilst this will mean more intense training for staff in the short term, it allows for a broader spectrum of benefits to be achieved quickly compared to a phased rollout. Both approaches yield results, but depend heavily on:
1. Speed of delivery
2. How quickly staff can adopt new capabilities into their working methods
These two universal issues can quickly determine the how successful the integration is. To ensure the pace of delivery and client adoption are addressed at Concirrus, we use a structured format that caters for various client needs throughout the onboarding process. It makes sure we address all immediate and long-term targets, whilst remaining flexible enough to accommodate new variables as they arise. This includes data quality, security, legal, personnel, etc. Such flexibility extends beyond external factors to internal product variations. As a scale up, our rate of innovation is extremely fast. New features and capabilities are continually introduced and improved. Our products look completely different today when compared to six months ago, both in design and function. It’s one of our strengths, and clients are looking for a long-term innovative partner to continuously add depth to their capabilities. Relaying essential information, alongside a roadmap of relevant development, cannot be understated. This extends to new product lines. With expansions into new niches taking place this year, including the launch of our Cargo product last quarter, our operations team must maintain a complete view over internal and external developments.
We take a Kaizen approach to integration, everything we learn from one deployment informs the next so that we continually improve. Alongside that, we remain customer centric and ensure we adapt to established working methods to make the process as smooth as possible. Our undertaking is now very mature and comprises of 12 stages that are grouped into four core elements:
By the time the client begins the process of integration, we know exactly what they want from the software. The entire process is framed by two value sessions that outline where and when value will be derived from the project. Specifically, what value will be seen from the outset, and what will be seen over time. Agreed KPI’s guide the long-term process, ensuring that desired results post deployment are achieved.
Provision of existing exposure and claims data allows for relevant analysis and model builds. This leads to behavioural insight, offering a new perspective on risk. It’s often here that an organisation can realise the limitations of their traditional systems as they start to see how new insight can allow them to make more accurate and informed decisions.
Bespoke feature design and customisation
During the onboarding process, customers have the chance to tailor aspects of the product. For a product that is used in core decision making, it’s important to ensure it is aligned with each client’s practice. Even though they operate in the same industry, every organisation has unique datasets, risk appetites and ways of working. This method of customisation often ensures the platform adheres to each approach.
Upon full implementation the platform is ready to deliver results for the client. Training sessions ensure the necessary teams within the organisation, such as sanctions, claims and exposure management, have the skills they need to use the platform. However, our team is always on hand. Once complete, the operations team shifts from on-boarding to continuous care and development, ensuring the client achieves long-term KPI’s and business capability change.
Investing in a comprehensive platform ensures adaptation to market variables as well as the need for increased resource over time. The cloud allows for an unprecedented way to scale operations. As
business grows, the infrastructure expands in line with demand whilst remaining accessible from any location.
Alongside our approach to client goals, a customer centric focus leads straight back into development. Our clients are encouraged to provide feedback on the platform regularly, suggesting refinements to existing capabilities, improved functionality and other more strategic ideas. These are evaluated and incorporated into the existing product roadmap, ensuring that their investment continually delivers value over time. In a broader view, the feedback helps shape the product to better serve the industry. This view extends beyond the product, with events bringing the industry together to tackle challenges as a collective.
Whilst it can sometimes be viewed as a barrier to entry, integration can be a very fluid process. Working in-line with corporate circumstance, it can create change when it’s right for the organisation, whether phased or immediate. Depending on the vendor it can also lead to new opportunities that provide long-term benefits. The perspective of the Client Delivery Manager needs to be both on the client, and the organisation they represent. If done well, delivery will meet expectations and incorporate all variables for a thriving corporate relationship.