As computers have taken over the workplace, the insurance industry, along with others, now relies upon them for the basic day to day business functions. Initially, organisations began to build new systems upon existing legacy systems as processes and software evolved, but now it seems that these legacy systems may not be up to the job.
Whilst building these new solutions was cost-effective in the short term and in some cases were the only way companies could realistically afford to continue modernising their systems at all, legacy systems eventually began to seem as old-fashioned as the paper filing systems that preceded them.
So, how does an organisation know when it is time to make the leap and what the benefits will be?
For most organisations, the answer to 'when' is immediately. Increasingly, it simply is not possible for insurers to compete in a fast-paced and rapidly-growing global marketplace with outdated systems. In particular, customers need to be able to access the information they need 24/7, and insurance companies that do not provide this service will fall behind.
Enabling underwriters and agents to quickly write new business is key in every way and workflow is bound to improve with a more modern solution. Clearly then, there is no time to waste in implementing more modern systems throughout the industry, and the benefits will be many.
Resistance to Change
However, those benefits may not always seem immediately obvious. You may have heard the old adage, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', many insurers may believe there is nothing broken about their system at all.
In part, they may be correct, but only for two reasons:
1- The legacy core system has not yet reached a critical point where it simply cannot handle increasing demands.
2- People are comfortable with what they are accustomed to and resist the change.
The answer to the first objection is really a question: should a company then wait until there is a crisis before it upgrades IT systems, and in doing so, will that ensure that best practices are followed?
Following on from the cyber-attack just a few weeks ago, the NHS IT director may well be asking whether or not they should have invested in a Microsoft upgrade sooner, to ensure that its systems were fully supported and more secure. That resistance to change resulted directly in its core system reaching a functional crisis.
Is an organisation likely to take the time to get the best system in place for the most reasonable cost in an emergency? Of course, the answer to both questions is no.
As to the resistance to change, although understandable, it should not be allowed to prevent a company from innovating. Even the best and most minor changes meet with resistance - from office re-models to system overhauls. However, even employees who may feel there is a large learning curve with a new system are likely to quickly see the benefits of an upgrade once it begins to make their day to day work life easier and more enjoyable.
In addition to the age of some legacy systems, they have also often survived one or more mergers, and again, this puts a strain on resources. Although these systems will eventually have a significant negative impact on workflow and efficiency, a complete overhaul of these systems is a massive undertaking and doing so requires not just an investment in IT but in retraining employees at every level.
Global Benefits for modernisation
Some organisations, like Eurobase, specialise in developing entire solutions and platforms for insurance companies. These solutions will be tailored to the specific needs of each company.
Planning for modernisation of systems can be done in a way that takes into account both cost and the needs of employees with both short and long-term considerations. An overhaul can result in a system that is more compatible with multiple contemporary platforms and has room to grow.
The way of the world as we see it today (and in the future) is web-based. This is likely to be one significant change for any company that does not already have such a system in place. From claims adjusters to brokers to customers and more, various web-based functions will be accessible from
anywhere at any time, generating documents, referrals, ratings, quotes and more.
Different territories are required to follow different regulations, but a system overhaul can take these regulations into account. Sometimes this can even be done automatically. Other automatic functions can be built in as well, including an improved error handling system for claims all contributing to further streamlining of operating processes.
Modernisation needs to take into account every aspect of how an insurance company is run. This includes not just its everyday processes but how it is organised, its budget, its mission statement, its plans for the future and more. In doing so, modernisation will prove to be a boon for the company, its employees and its customers. Even employees who were familiar with older systems and resisted change are likely to adapt quickly to a platform that is planned and designed with their needs and workflow in mind. With the London Tech Week under way, perhaps organisations need to keep in mind that 'if it ain't broke it soon will be', so it's best to do something about it before it is too late. There is no longer a need to let technological disruptions affect an organisations efficiency.