Paul Webster, business consultant at SSP for Insurers discusses the increased regulation, more channels to market, as well as vastly different consumer buying habits to ten years ago and the rapidly evolving insurance market.
Once upon a time consumers would call their insurer or broker and now they use their laptop, tablet or mobile device to purchase or renew their insurance.
As systems from 10 or 20 years ago don’t have the flexibility to cope with this changing landscape, it is important that technology changes with the times. Users are now demanding the ability to use their own devices, such as mobiles and tablets, from anywhere and at any time – putting plasters on a legacy out-of-date system is just not an option anymore.
While building a bespoke system may seem an appealing solution, this could cause more problems than it solves. Such a build might take two years to complete and be expensive, meaning that, with the world changing so fast, it could be out of date before its even finished.As a result, the ongoing spend on updating the system to keep up with insurance market and technology changes would be almost the same as investing in a new system.
By working with a partner such as SSP, there is no need to worry about how the market landscape changes – we work with researchers and analysts, around 150-180 insurers and 1,000 brokers in geographies across the world, and use our knowledge and experience of working with these organisations to shape our product strategy.
People have different reasons for wanting to upgrade their system. Some just want to maintain a stable solution that won’t let them down, so they can keep their business going. Others are looking to achieve their strategic goals, not only in the short term, but for the next 10 or 20 years – making it about far more than just keeping the costs down.
Regardless of the motivation for choosing to upgrade, one important thing is that the next version must be properly planned. It is vital that you understand the risks involved and the tangible benefits that can be achieved. A partner will work with you to identify and manage the specific challenges your business faces.
After all, it is not just a case of loading a CD-ROM and clicking run. Each upgrade contains significant functional and IT-driven enhancements, and therefore requires proper planning and costing.
While an upgrade is typically provided as part of a support package, meaning there is no cost to you except for the expenses occurred in guiding you through the new system and providing training, there are other aspects that need to be taken into account.
It is essential that your system upgrade is planned around your other business demands. For example, it would be sensible to avoid a common renewal month. Additionally, it is important that you allow the necessary time and resources for the upgrade, and factor in potential disruption to the business. For example, we make our customers aware of all product enhancements – and their business benefits – 12 to 18 months in advance, before working with customers to plan the upgrade.
When upgrading, it is not only software enhancements that add real business value or benefits. Organisations should always look to integrate third-party tools with their own technology to get the best of both worlds. For example, by using best-of-breed components SSP can leverage the billions that bigger companies, such as Microsoft spend on research and technology each year.
In my opinion, another way you can get the most out of your investment in technology and realise better value for money is through making the most of user groups.
It is important that executives, managers and decision-makers participate in these groups, as well as users, to generate a positive discussion about where the industry is going, which, in turn, helps to improve software and services, and ensures both parties get the most out of the relationship.
In my experience, user groups can help businesses shape their vision and decide on the strategic direction they want to go in. Furthermore, companies can learn from the experience of those in other geographies. For example, Africa is ahead of Europe in terms of mobile technology, so there are lessons that could be learnt from this experience. SSP customers around the world are already taking advantage of our capabilities in telematics and usage-based insurance in certain geographies.
By making the most of the consultancy available and taking the time to understand new enhancements, as well as making positive contributions to user groups, will help you remain competitive and ensure that you stay in control of your own destiny.
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