Insurance executives, like other executives in transaction-based industries such as financial services and payments processing, spend a lot of time worrying about the constraints imposed by legacy systems. These are the big, custom-built systems – some dating back as far as 30 years – that support core policy administration and claims processing functions.
Insurers have the option of replacing core systems, either on an “all at once” or phased basis. While the results can be impressive, the capital costs can be significant in either case and, in full replacement projects, there are risks of possible business disruption and implementation delay.
Some insurers, rather than climbing painfully over the obstacles presented by such systems, are piecing together what are, in effect, new systems, using off-the-shelf components, software, platform and infrastructure as a service, and the cloud, to support innovation in product development and service delivery.
More and more often, customers tell the business what they need and expect, and then the business tells IT what it needs to get that done. In turn, IT acts like a start-up company, quickly creating and launching new applications as they are needed.
Our research – as discussed in the Accenture Technology Vision for Insurance 2015 – supports this premise. We found that 77 percent of insurance respondents surveyed said they are using or experimenting with open innovation to integrate applications and collaborate with business partners, and 70 percent or more are either using or experimenting with advanced programming interfaces (APIs) or industry platforms. By being flexible, incorporating new technologies and working within creative ecosystems, insurers are laying the groundwork for providing new services and better customer experiences.