Every so often, an innovation emerges that forever changes the way people perform an everyday action and paves the way for future innovations. In the world of insurance software — especially customer-facing apps — a game changer today is low-code and no-code software development.
Low-code and no-code development enables people without extensive programming experience to design and create apps through a software platform’s configurability features and graphical user interfaces. That is a simple technical definition of low-code and no-code. In lay person’s terms, low-code and no-code is an innovation that makes digital transformation easier for businesses to execute, and that offers numerous advantages.
In the era of smartphones, we take for granted the ability to make a phone call that connects us to another person on the other side of the world, nearly instantly. A century ago, however, that was only a dream. The first commercially viable trans-Atlantic telephone call
occurred in 1927, connecting executives in New York and London. Walter S. Gifford, president of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (some may have forgotten this was the original name of a company we recognize by the initials AT&T), said during that call: “Today is the result of many years of research and experimentation. We open a telephonic path of speech between New York and London... That the people of these great cities will be brought within speaking distance to exchange views and facts as if they were face to face…no one can foresee the ultimate significance of this latest achievement of science and organization.”
See also: Digital Innovation: Down to Business
Fast-forward to 2019, and conversations bridging even greater distances occur many times a day in the global insurance industry, serving as a foundation for developing new coverages and accelerating business processes. As with that first telephone call, one day we’ll look back on low-code and no-code development as enabling an era of innovation in insurance.
Advantages of low-code/no-code
Insurance organizations embracing low-code and no-code development stand to gain several advantages, including:
- Speed to market. The ability to introduce new products and services quickly has always been helpful in a competitive marketplace. For that reason, insurers have long relied on excess and surplus lines as a way to swiftly launch specialty products and grow market share. First movers have an advantage in insurance, and new products energize the distribution channel. Low-code and no-code offer ways to tailor and support new products, in admitted and non-admitted lines.
- Brand differentiation. In the era of digital transformation, customers expect brands to offer memorable digital experiences. Who offers the best experience, from quoting to claims? Which insurance industry companies make it easy to do business? These are important considerations for customers who have become conditioned to using apps from top consumer brands. Low-code and no-code enhance insurance organizations’ ability to deliver digital experiences and set themselves apart from their competitors.
- Operational efficiency. Insurers have already captured much of the low-hanging fruit in reducing expenses, which is why their expense ratios generally have not shrunk significantly in a long time. Low-code and no-code could change that by making internal software innovation faster and cheaper at every level of an organization. From a digital perspective, low-code and no-code development is like a force multiplier. It can accelerate the response to business opportunities, not just in the IT department but in every department.
- Ease of implementation. Getting employees to do something new, in insurance or any other industry, can take a lot of time and training. The low-code/no-code movement simplifies standards and user interfaces, which makes it easy to learn, build, and implement. In a short time, insurance organizations can shift from thinking about apps to creating them.
The low-code/no-code movement offers an elegant solution to several operational problems that insurance organizations encounter regularly. For example, enhancing the digital experience is often an exercise in “Where do we even begin?” In addition, time for skilled IT staff to perform traditional coding for new products and digital apps, or to integrate changes and updates, is scarce. Limited development resources inevitably mean backlogs for the IT department, meaning that great ideas for new apps tend to remain just that, until programmers can turn them into usable tools.
See also: Digital Innovation in Life Insurance
Low-code/no-code empowers the people who are closest to the core business and its customers to design and create innovative apps, using cloud-based visual tools. A terrific idea to engage customers and make it easier to do business with the insurance organization no longer has to wait for traditional programming expertise. Instead, a "citizen developer" inside the business can make it a reality, and quickly. The low-code/no-code movement is a game changer in highly competitive and time-critical functions such as risk assessment, quoting and underwriting.
There is much more to low-code/no-code than just saving time and money, however. Most, if not all, productivity investments that insurance organizations make are intended to free staff to better serve the customer. Perhaps the most significant advantage of low-code/no-code is it lets all employees take a bigger role in that effort.