I bumped into an industry colleague on the tube tonight who works for a Big Five consultancy and had just been on an ‘away day’. He said that if technology was mentioned once, it was mentioned at least twenty times. This happened at a services company, where people will typically seek to downplay the significance of technology.
Remember people, process and technology in that order? Recently I sat in on a webinar by a consultancy that was exhorting application service providers to create IP and dedicate a significant percentage of revenue to product development. Earlier in the day, I was talking to a business executive from a loss adjusting firm who realised the organisation needs a more flexible, cost effective platform for their rapidly growing TPA business.
Perhaps we are beginning to see the ‘Berlin Wall’ between Business and IT crumble. The barrier has been built up over decades by perceived over-promise and under-delivery on one side, and alleged shortsightedness and inflexibility on the other.
I am also observing an increasing difficulty in ‘pigeonholing’ the type or class of system needed to support an insurance business over the next strategic planning period. As an example, I recently spoke with a major player that is having trouble deciding whether they need a broker system or an insurer system going forward.
Another conversation was truncated when the prospect realised that our platform was typically used by insurers, but when we took the discussion back to first principles it became clear that a strict broker vs. insurer delineation is no longer appropriate for their operating model and go-to-market strategy.
Whilst there seems to be a great deal of confusion about how historical demarcations map onto future business aspirations, there are also some strong and consistent themes.
Support for continuous product innovation – independent of the channel through which the product is sold and serviced – is at the heart of the matter. Secondly, a single view of the customer, and more importantly, a single view for the customer, are essential.
Last, but not least, technology must allow for continuously redrawn divisions of labour during the lifetime of a policy. Fully in-house panel underwriters, claims outsourcing and white labeling arrangements will continue to evolve and the successful insurers of the next decade will not allow technology to constrain these increasingly changing, blurred lines.