THE INTEGRAL ROLE OF IT NETWORKS IN INSURANCE SUCCESS

 
Tim Skinner
WHAT ROLE DOES IT AND THE NETWORK REALLY PLAY IN THE INSURANCE SECTOR?
Insurance companies are facing increasing pressures not only from regulation, but from more demanding customers. Aging technology systems just will not fit the bill and insurance executives need to stay focused on using IT and the network to improve core operations including policy administration, claims management and billing. Whether it’s a customer viewing a policy on an iPad or a 20 year old document being archived, we underpin everything that insurance companies do. Solvency II is at the heart of some of the regulatory changes that are driving investments in IT and the network, as insurers start to re-evaluate the architectures they deploy.

WHAT HAS BEEN THE IMPACT OF SOLVENCY II ON IT AND NETWORK ARCHITECTURES?
IT departments have had to focus significant budget and resources on Solvency II change management programmes. In the wake of the financial crisis, Solvency II is just part of the need to integrate new sources of information with internal data to effectively identify potential risks and opportunities. Rather than simply achieving regulatory compliance, many of the changes can help companies to be more efficient and profitable. As companies are driven to have more rigorous reporting and be more transparent, a more resilient and robust infrastructure is required. A well designed enterprise architecture should allow for new services to be supported, minimising the amount of change. For example, there should be little need to upgrade a best practice Cisco network to support Solvency II. However Solvency II does require that applications change, which will usually be accompanied by additional compute and storage requirements, also available from Cisco.

WHAT OTHER IT AND NETWORK CHANGES MIGHT WE SEE?
The most significant changes we see are being driven by changing customer preferences and behaviour. The contact centre has always been at the core of many insurers businesses, but customer interactions are changing. Customers want to be able to interface via a number of different devices and channels – social networks, online comparison sites, touch sensitive tablets and smart phones are all providing opportunities for insurers to transform their business models.

Employees are changing too – whereas those currently working within the firms grew up with email and Outlook, the generation Y of current graduates grew up with social networking and Facebook and will expect to interact with their colleagues in a similar way. The way insurance companies provide services to their employees will change dramatically over the next few years.

To remain competitive, insurers will need to use IT and the network for information analytics to stay customer relevant and to exploit trust-based social relationships to enhance their brand. As tablet sales now outstrip PC sales and the mobile market continues to explode, insurers will also need to tune their transactions, interactions and operating models to be mobile-relevant. Ultimately, the call centre will need to be overhauled to become a true multi-channel customer interaction centre.

DIRECTOR UK ENTERPRISE CISCO