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ICTA2014: The Total Connectedness of IT All

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ICTA-121x57In preparation for an upcoming meeting of the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Awards (ICTA) Jury, we have had  the opportunity of reviewing all of the nominations for insurers. We are struck by two related themes. First, it is not a specific technology or implementation that is important, but how systems and processes can be brought together to achieve objectives. Second, these objectives have more to do with the customer world then the inner world of the insurer.

The message to us is clear:  Award-winning insurers will be those whose business and technology focus has shifted from incremental progress gained from internal improvements to more fundamental innovation which will be tested in the real world outside the doors of the enterprise.

The ICTA Jury will be selecting finalists soon, so we won’t be citing specific nominees now.  But here are some of elements that have come through the nominations.

External focus = Customer engagement, Broker partnership

External technology focus is nothing new for insurers.  Independent distribution companies have sought linkage with brokers to reduce inefficiencies and direct marketers have emphasized point solutions which could serve their internal needs while improving look and feel of customer service.

What seems different now is the focus on the end customer and how to maintain engagement through continuous improvement.  For example, one insurer seeking an award with its Telematics implementation phrases all of its advantages from the standpoint of the customer, lower premiums, more customer specific underwriting, continuous improvement of service, etc.  We think this is more than marketing spin.

Broker companies are making a similar shift.  Connectivity solutions used to be limited to linkages between the insurer and the carrier to reduce friction costs.  Now the common purpose of serving the end customer is targeted and carriers are developing shared services to allow brokers to put out customer facing solutions with the broker’s branding that connect directly to the carrier.

Integration is key …

The trade off between ‘doing it quick or doing it right’ seems to be over for the nominees.  Virtually all of the offerings take an expansive, inclusive view of the implementations.

Application level compatibility is taken for granted.  All nominees that utilize web solutions are emphasizing their adaptability to mobile technologies and commitment to support multiple browsers while maintaining a common look and feel.

Data integration is also a given.  Independent distribution carriers emphasize CSIO compatibility and the direct distributors are offering XML based data for the consumers.

As, or more significantly, nominees are seeing tighter linkage between product information, technology support, and training.  Several of the nominees are featuring educational support for the products and the delivery mechanism in the same on-line libraries.

Can the rest of us take a hint? What do you think?

If we had to generalize, it would seem that these nominees have a solid view of the connected, integrated world to be, and are taking steps, and making investments to make sure they have a place in that world.

ICTC-wheel-plain-r60We’re curious… is this a more general trend?  One place to find out is at the 2014 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference.  The ICTAs will be given at the end of the first day.  We’d look forward to seeing you there.

Meantime, we’d like your thoughts.  Is the industry moving in the direction of the nominees?

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