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February 16, 2018

‘As-a-Service’ Model Is Great, but…

Summary:

As insurers move toward the “as-a-service” model, content must be handled, managed and disseminated in a secure and consistent way.

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Today’s world is run by increasingly “on-demand” societies, where almost anything one wants or needs is available “as-a-service.” This phenomenon means the data-empowered consumer of the Information Age now lives and works in the Age of Convenience.

For the insurance industry, the Age of Convenience necessarily dictates changes in product definition, billing preferences and access options. It also means technology has evolved to a point where vendors no longer need to stretch the truth about point solution functionality. The growth of content “services” and ease of integration enables insurers to concentrate more fully on core competencies, realize operational efficiencies by taking advantage of best-of-breed solution strengths and improve uptime and accountability when working with vendor partners who provide the proverbial “one hand to shake.”

Core Competencies

One of the most significant challenges insurers face is the sheer volume of information required to complete the business of insurance efficiently on an end-to-end basis. Core administration system or suite providers rarely have expertise in document and content management, yet they typically include some baseline functionality or workflow solution that works with policy, billing and claims components.

See also: Now, Everything Can Be ‘As-a-Service’  

Unfortunately, because document and content management and access is peripheral functionality for core administration system or suite providers, the processes are often woefully incomplete, inefficient and incapable of providing a comprehensive picture of any individual policyholder’s history and product portfolio. In fact, many legacy systems act as self-contained data repositories with no ability to share information via omni-channel interfaces. In addition to handicapping any ability to provide a seamless customer experience and insights into potential coverage gaps because of siloed data, legacy systems also expose insurers to security vulnerabilities. In this scenario, insurers compromise any real ability to focus on core competencies, including quoting and selling policies, as well as managing and mitigating risk, in favor of attempting to resolve data crises on an hourly basis.

Best-of-Breed Strengths

As the next evolution of enterprise content management (ECM) solutions emerges, one of the most immediate interim strategies for insurers is to partner with external ECM providers for access to tomorrow’s best-of-breed ECM functionality today. Such partnerships in effect outsource data capture, organization and management, so insurers have greater access to the exact information needed to power their business.

Across the industry, best-of-breed solutions create an environment in which insurers can better exploit specific expertise. In this case, core administration system providers handle core while content management/ECM experts handle content. Ease of integration ensures that modern ECM solutions can work seamlessly with legacy core systems to provide secure access to information in real time across the enterprise, thereby greatly enhancing an insurer’s content management capabilities. The ability of modern ECM solutions to integrate with an insurer’s internal systems and those of external partners as well, signify a shift from the self-contained data repositories of old to the open access systems of today.

One Hand to Shake

Reliance on external best-of-breed partners puts a great deal of stress on core systems to be flexible. As insurers move toward digital enablement and expand utilization of the “as-a-service” model, it is important that content is collected, handled, managed and disseminated in a secure and consistent way.

See also: Why AI Will Transform Insurance  

Insurance data comes from any number of inputs, including the insured, social media, third-party data providers, print communications, text messages, digital recordings, video, audio and more. Because many of these inputs only produce unstructured data, insurers must have the ability to handle the disparate inputs and normalize the data, turning it into useful and actionable information. This makes integration between systems, and across platforms enterprise-wide, more than necessary to ensure a single point of contact, control and source of truth.

Conclusion

Best-of-breed ECM services provide a valuable, even vital, solution for insurers challenged to focus on core competencies, rather than striving to do all things equally well. By working with external partners, the smart insurer can compete better and provide a smoother customer experience.

This kind of collaboration results not only in short-term agility and speed to market but also offers long-term benefits in data cohesion and ease of access. The next evolution of ECM can help insurers struggling with digital enablement move beyond systems reliant on self-contained data repositories, which inherently silo information, and into an age of open access, consistency and a better ability to focus on core competencies.

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About the Author

Charlie Hanna is the domestic director of insurance for Hyland.

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