Insurance companies understand what needs to happen. They really know which way the many winds are blowing, are retrofitting their ships to catch those winds… only to find that the ship is still slow to move. For every cool startup pilot and board-empowered cross-functional customer-centric Agile team there are stakeholders to convince and legacy systems to cure or kill. Such is life aboard large ships, some say – at least we’re moving in the right direction. But others have found a trick to pick up speed. And it’s a simple trick: standardize on stuff that works.
So we’re a software vendor, and over the years we’ve welcomed a lot of insurance companies to our client roster, who are typically happy with the (software as a) service we provide. In many cases though, those are isolated implementations in one way or another: one country, one label, one product line, one department, one use case. Oh sorry: customer journey. And even for such a limited scope, we’ve had to clear all the hurdles associated with deploying vendor software. Read ‘em and weep:
- Stakeholders understanding and buying into the main concepts (and sometimes the intricate details)
- A business case on the ROI of the software
- Going through RFP and other vendor selection stages
- Passing product reviews by Security, Compliance and IT
- Passing company reviews by Procurement and Legal
- Agreeing on contract and service level agreement
- Agreeing on prices for our software and rates for our people
- IT people getting to know the software
- Users and managers getting to know the software
- Our people and your people learning to work with each other
- Hooking the software up to your IT landscape
- As time passes, going through updates, meeting new compliance demands, renewing contracts etc.
All of those hurdles cost us incredible amounts of time. Every time. More importantly for the purposes of this article, it costs insurance companies incredible amounts of time as well. Time as in direct cost (many people working many hours), and time as in months and months of delay. For one isolated innovation to finally arrive. An innovation that would really help for other countries, labels, product lines, departments and use cases as well. Just imagine the waste of all of those projects scaling the same hurdles from scratch. And now imagine everyone just taking the same tool from the same vendor over and over and over again, with all of those boxes checked already. “What do I need to do?” Turn it on. “But what about…” Just turn it on. It’s Ok. It works.
The latter is exactly what one of Holland’s largest insurers decided to do with our solution about a year ago, and others are following suit. Centralize, standardize and evangelize. The resulting levels of integration, knowledge, trust and collaboration have been accelerating innovation across their labels and functions. Whether the initiative comes from Product, Customer Experience, IT or (in our case) Finance, teams can just grab the default solution off the shelf and make it theirs. Configure, test, deploy. A request for a new capability is just a phone call away, and the rising tide then lifts all boats.
The field of software development figured out reusable components many years ago, with recent incarnations talking about microservices, API economy, Github repositories and other variations on the theme. The trouble has been to get there on an organizational level between companies and vendors as well. That’s where scaling out cool new insurtech stuff gets held down by institutional inefficiency.
Obviously, this model only works for software that is indeed generic and flexible enough to work and be needed across the different axes of your business. Ours is an example, as it combines universal requirements like messaging and payments. But surely there are other best-of-breed cloud-based solutions that move the needle once they become the go-to option for a certain type of need. Many small sails speed up the ship, even if it’s still running on the old ERP engine inside.