Cloud offers a silver lining to the insurance industry
Insurers who choose to adopt a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model will reap the benefits of this investment very quickly... it ensures a much lower cost per policy in the short to medium term by negating the need "to throw tin and processing power" at the problem.
Hardware and staffing costs are the two biggest line items on any CIO's budget. By doing away with the need for huge 'tin' upgrades and outsourcing the day-to-day "running" of the environment, CIO's will be able to "halve their IT budgets" in a way that will ensure business continuance and competitiveness in an overtraded market.
Life insurance and pension companies are fully aware of the many hidden costs associated with the use of manual processes and inefficient systems, but while the desire to improve is there, many of these organisations remain uncertain as to how to optimise their processes and reduce their cost per policy.
One of the best ways to achieve this, according to Wade Gomes, sales manager at JMR Software, is via the implementation of SAAS policy software. This option, he explains, "can significantly enhance the way insurers provide solutions to their customers, by improving efficiencies, enhancing scalability and enabling the business to easily integrate multiple solutions to achieve their business objectives.
"Furthermore, it also provides a foundation to increase operational efficiency through automated workflows and increased customer self-service, which in turn leads to reduced call centre overheads and increased service satisfaction and brand value," he says.
SAAS offering can be configured to the organisation's exact requirements and implemented into a live environment in a significantly reduced time frame. This is critical for insurance organisations, as the phrase 'time is money' is particularly applicable to them and reducing the development time results in a dramatic reduction in cost.
Further advantages of a cloud-based system include the fact that it ensures that all users are presented with real time up-to-date data: a vital attribute, whether the user is a broker seeking client details or a client looking to submit a claim. It is both reliable and scalable and it is accessible from any computer or mobile device.
Susan van Zyl, Head of Marketing and Sales at JMR Software, adds "Implementing a cloud-based insurance platform enables the organisation to remain focused on its core business while, at the same time opening up a new world of opportunities. A SAAS offering should help to eliminate the traditional CapEx approach to technology, by moving instead to an OpEx model, thanks to the pay-as-you-go delivery model. At the same time, such an approach should also assist in optimising sales, underwriting, and claims efficiency and effectiveness, thanks to rules-based workflows and self-service offerings."
"Moreover, moving to the cloud will help to safeguard the business from the threat of technology obsolescence, enabling a virtualised technology platform that is integrated with business process management software and backed by professionally managed services."
Additionally, when software is cloud-based, insurance representatives no longer need to wait for an e-mail as the information is already conveniently and safely available at their fingertips. The customer's confidentiality and valuable business information is protected, as sensitive data is stored off-site in the cloud with tight security and restricted access.
Most crucially, she adds, "the SAAS model provides for highly scalable offerings that enable the insurer to automatically gain access to additional resources as these may be required. The same applies from a disaster recovery perspective, as data can quickly be made available via the cloud and will thus be accessible from a variety of devices instantly, irrespective of location."
"Furthermore, the software itself will receive regular updates, enhancements all of which will be managed by the vendor, eliminating the need for the traditional upgrade process, which would instead have had to be carried out by the insurer themselves, costing them further time, money and resources."
"There is no doubt that the current drive towards digital transformation offers insurers the ideal opportunity to adopt a cloud-based approach to their systems. Going the SAAS route is something that is already positively impacting on a wide range of other industries; therefore, insurers that aim to be successful in this future digital world need to realise that the sooner they embrace a cloud way of doing things, the better it will be for both their business and their customers," concludes Gomes.