Insurers Gear Up for Growth by Building Agile Processes
Jennifer Dubow 060001C6YV email@example.com | | Tags:  multi-channel insurer carrier insurance
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Contributor: Maneeza Malik, Global Industry Marketing Manager for Insurance in WebSphere, IBM Software Group
The insurance industry is facing an influx of change. This has never been more apparent than over the last couple of years. Carriers of all types and sizes are looking to streamline their processes to drive growth and effectively compete in mature and emerging markets or risk being left behind.
As we approach IMPACT 2011 the IBM WebSphere users’ conference where leading insurers from around the world will meet and discuss how they are addressing critical business and IT challenges, we asked Sanjay Motwani, Worldwide Insurance Solutions Leader with IBM Software Group, to share his insights.
What business and IT trends are you seeing in the insurance industry globally?
SM: We are seeing insurers focus on three key areas - Customer Focus, Process Optimization and New Business Models. Our research confirms that insurers who focus on these areas stand to make dramatic gains in terms of better combined ratio (for non-life) and better return on assets (for Life). Tier 1 carriers are trying to align their business with the customer at the center of all operations. Carriers in emerging economies are leveraging new approaches to doing business to make a strong impact in their distribution channels. Examples of technologies that can empower insurance carriers with these benefits are in the areas of Business Process Management (for process optimization), Rules and Predictive Analytics (for customer-centricity) and portal/collaboration (for multi-channel transformation). Reliance Life is a great example of a company that is leveraging some of these technologies to not just acquire new customers but also reduce costs significantly.
We hear about so much focus on core systems transformation, how can carriers leverage what analysts are calling ‘disruptive’ technology to build agile processes?
SM: It is true that carriers are focused on modernizing their core policy / claims/ distribution systems but many of them are realizing huge benefits from the use of newer technologies that significantly improve business processes and have a positive impact on their operational efficiency and revenue streams, among others. Take the example of West Bend Mutual that is leveraging IBM's BPM cloud offering (IBM Blueworks Live) for business process re-engineering. With the capabilities to model / simulate / monitor business processes, insurers now have the ability to continuously optimize LOB-specific operations. Another good example is that of Celina Insurance, a small carrier, but one that is very effectively using IBM's collaboration technologies to drive increased loyalty amongst their agents,
Carriers of all types and sizes are looking to mitigate some of the risks associated with building end-to-end processes. What options do they have?
SM: Let’s remember that good old big-bang projects are far and few nowadays and insurance carriers want to see impact of IT projects on their businesses in just weeks and months! So insurance carriers understand the benefits of incremental transformation--hence their equal focus on peripheral processes like agency collaboration and fraud prevention that can yield quicker ROI while satisfactorily meeting the business needs. Our Insurance Framework approach focuses on solving specific pain points and helps achieve improved time-to-market while reducing risks and costs - all with a progressive transformation approach.
What opportunities do new trends like mobility, social media and cloud bring to an industry like insurance that is considered by some slow on innovation?
SM: Yes, the insurance industry has been slow in adopting modern technologies but innovations like mobility are going to have a dramatic impact. Imagine your financial advisor being able to simulate the experience of buying a life insurance product through an exceptional user experience on a tablet device. Or an insurance carrier making it easy for customers and agents to reach out to their specialists using social tools. Cloud in particular is going to help rationalize the cost of owning and implementing enterprise software and at the same time reduce integration pains. I am extremely excited about the opportunities Insurers can exploit by smarter use of these technology innovations.
Note: If you are coming to IMPACT 2011 (April 10-15, Las Vegas), Sanjay Motwani, Worldwide Insurance Solutions Leader with IBM’s Software Group will be co-presenting with Seguros Bolivar on "Business Process Re-engineering in Insurance using BPM Methods and Tools" in Session #1073.
Other speakers at this year’s IBM IMPACT 2011 will include IF Insurance, Nationwide, Worksafe Victoria, Northwestern Mutual, HUK Coburg, AXA Seguros, Reliance Life, VKB Insurance and Generali, among others. To learn more, visit the Session Preview tool.
Visit the Insurance Industry Pedestal in the IBM Solution Center at IMPACT. Register for an Industry Solution Guided Tour for Insurance