In the not-so-distant past, before the insurance industry began to wake to the realities of the digital revolution, the decision-making process and implementation of new IT initiatives took years. In today’s insurance industry, with changes coming at rocket speed and business executives trying to stay in step (or even ahead) of the market, those years are being collapsed into months – or even weeks. Speed to market can make the difference between winning the race and being left at the starting gate.
A new approach to IT implementation supports all facets of projects that have complex architectures and detailed documentation requirements. It helps deliver results fast, uncovering issues quickly and early in the process by organizing work into smaller functional segments. Cost savings and higher-quality results come from testing at intervals throughout the project – typical of an iterative approach – instead of at the end, as with a conventional waterfall structure.
This is particularly important on the software side. According to an Accenture report on iterative approaches to software testing published earlier this year, “The insurance industry is undergoing rapid and disruptive change. By shifting to the left, insurers have an opportunity to accelerate projects that modernize, rationalize and consolidate their systems. Gone are the days of 24- to 36-month projects. Insurers need to act now and act fast to deliver new products across multiple distribution channels to mobile- and digital-savvy consumers.”
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As with the industry’s focus on customer-centric solutions, speed to market drives this shifting landscape. Insurance solutions today need to move as fast as the market moves, and that means implementations measured in weeks and months, not months and years.
An Ernst & Young report, The Digital Opportunity in Insurance, puts this issue into focus: “Fueled by FinTech investments and InsurTech startups, insurance has become a hotbed of digital innovation. In response, insurers must embrace change and rethink business models to move toward a compliant, secure and digitally enabled operating model to enhance customer, employee, partner, and other stakeholder experiences.” The report goes on to show that those who fully embrace digital transformation will be the ones that can successfully meet tomorrow’s customer needs and respond to changing marketplace expectations. “To succeed, insurers must understand what’s possible and take decisive action to deliver value now and ignite long-term growth.”
And the next wave of insurtech is already starting to take shape: a rapid migration toward solutions that are customer-centric, as opposed to the traditional carrier- and broker-centric models. At InsurIQ, we’re aiming to be at the vanguard of this movement with the development of solutions for the web-based purchase of insurance products in a shopping cart environment and end-to-end solutions from proposal generation through renewals, including underwriting workflows, policy administration, document fulfillment, premium accounting and producer management.
Whatever new-generation approach an insurer decides to implement, a solid consultative relationship with a third-party solutions provider is key.
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The pace of change in the insurance industry, and other businesses, as well, will keep accelerating in the short term and beyond. Carriers that do not emphasize speed to market as a primary objective of their IT initiatives will be left in the dust as other, forward-thinking companies sprint past them, picking up new clients as well as enhanced industry visibility.