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November 4, 2016

4 Steps to Ease Data Migration

Summary:

Migrating data from siloed, disconnected systems to a new cutting-edge platform is no easy task.

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Mobile has been a huge change agent for technology across all industries, and insurance is no different. The demands of today’s customer have dictated that legacy systems with siloed data be re-examined and replaced with modern, digital-ready solutions. With 64% of insurance employees willing to use a mobile app or site to improve access to sales information in the field, data must be accessible across all channels of an organization.

Migrating data from siloed, disconnected systems to a new cutting-edge platform is no easy task. A successful data migration requires extensive preparation, custom software architecture and knowledge of both old and new systems. Before moving to new business software systems, developing a plan to streamline the transition and to prevent major hiccups is imperative.

Get Rid of Unnecessary Data

The longer that insurance providers have been in business, the more data there is to deal with. Additionally, legacy data that is no longer necessary for current business operations accumulates for a variety of reasons. Before moving to a new house, most owners take the opportunity to clean the attic and get rid of items that have accumulated and are no longer needed; the same idea applies when migrating data from a legacy system to a new solution. When preparing to migrate, insurance providers should take a close look at data in legacy systems and only migrate data that is necessary for today’s business operations.

See also: Why Exactly Does Big Data Matter?  

Rethink How to Map Data to New Systems

Demand for real-time data access and frictionless user experiences has led many digital-ready software solutions down different paths than those taken by legacy systems. Both the underlying technology that stores the data and how the data is structured relationally is very different from what was seen decades ago when insurance providers were developing their first software systems. Insurers need to account for these changes while helping data make the transition to restructure it to best suit today’s needs. Because this process is time-consuming and complex, many providers benefit from third-party digital transformation partners whose expertise can be leveraged to provide a best-of-breed solution.

Use Out-of-the-Box Best Practices

Legacy systems have been unable to adapt to business processes that have evolved dramatically in recent years, meaning many insurance providers have been forced to rely on outdated practices. When rolling over to a new system, starting with the best practices contained in the new software and modifying only when necessary is a key best practice. The software vendor has evolved its out-of-the-box processes over the years, and they should be considered best-of-breed. As a rule of thumb, an insurance provider should only modify these processes because of some unique part of the business that is key to its strategic goals. Migrating old processes or modifying recommended ones can be inefficient and costly, so providers shouldn’t throw away time-tested solutions unless there’s a critical strategic reason to do so.

Plan Ahead for a Smooth Rollout

Making the transition to modern software solutions can easily derail day-to-day operations if providers don’t take the right precautions. To make sure the rollout is seamless, providers must develop a strategy to “keep the lights on” that often involves mixed-mode operations between the legacy systems and the new digital solutions. This strategy involves a great deal of up-front architectural planning to ensure the data is in sync between the old and new systems, along with a road map that sunsets the legacy solution piece-by-piece in a surgical fashion. A smooth rollout also requires training on buy-in and training on how to use the new technology, which, along with an extensive beta testing phase to gather feedback, are wise investments to the overall long-term success of the rollout.

See also: 3 Types of Data for Personalization  

Migration of mission-critical legacy business systems to modern digital-ready solutions is not easy. Up-front planning for data migration, training, business rules, process, architectural evolution and both short-term and near-term business goals are all key considerations that should factor into the overall migration road map. Rushing a digital transformation effort can result in incredibly costly mistakes down the line, so insurance providers need proper planning to ensure a smooth transition. Providers should strongly consider enlisting the help of a partner that is skilled in digital transformation to help guide them along the journey.

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About the Author

Aaron Shook leads the retail practice for PointSource, which includes many custom solutions built around IBM WebSphere Commerce, IBM Worklight, ATG Commerce, Sterling Order Management and other best-in-class retail products.

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