- Buzz on the Show Floor – from the opening reception to the closing of the show floor, there was a buzz as attendees from carriers and vendors had great discussions. IASA found great ways to engage attendees in the show, including a twitter contest with an iPad mini giveaway – see entries from my account (@T_Benton) by searching for #IASA2013.
- Solid Show Logistics – IASA knows how to run a trade show. I attended their annual meeting (I spent 10 years as a CIO at a non-profit) and IASA shows every sign of a healthy non-profit organization: solid focus on mission, strong leadership, growing financials and an engaged membership. Any organization that can get volunteers to do a country-western line dance flash mob at their annual meeting has something going for it!
- Great Vendor Meetings – Novarica folks met with many software vendors – mine were mainly with vendors providing solutions for Policy Administration and CCM (Customer Communication Management). Many of these vendors have built systems on modern architectures and are now providing innovation and improved delivery processes as well as maturing SaaS offerings. Insurance core systems are maturing to the point where the buy-build decision is becoming a buy-subscribe decision.
- Interesting Sessions – due to all the vendor meetings, I was not able to attend many sessions. However, I did attend the following:
- Tuesday keynote, with Peter Diamandis of the XPrize foundation – he encouraged attendees to have a positive view of the future – that exponential knowledge growth means all world problems will be solved in the next few decades and that we are facing a future with a world of “abundance” (title of his new book). He also predicted that self-driving cars and other technologies will have a huge impact on the insurance industry.
- Tuesday’s Analyst “Around the Horn” – an annual event where analysts from four major Insurance IT consulting firms comment then get voted off one at a time through three rounds. Novarica was well represented by Chad, who bowed out in the final round, but made some memorable quotes, like “I spend too much time reading about core systems – and my wife agrees”.
- Wednesday IT Town Hall – panelists and audience members talked about reducing infrastructure costs, the challenges of staffing for big data/analytics and how to approach mobile strategy.
We’ve updated our periodic report on M&A in the insurance software sector in response to the latest flurry of activity. Our report includes an updated view on the tech giants, portfolio players, and financial investors in the current marketplace. The two biggest changes since our last report: Guidewire’s successful IPO, which gives new hope to financial investors, and SAP’s acquisition of Camilion, the first acquisition of a vertical ISV by a tech giant since Oracle’s purchase of Skywire and AdminServer in 2008.
This week saw two major announcements in the insurance technology landscape – Insurity acquired AQS, and SAP acquired Camilion. With the number of players in this space – is this a harbinger of things to come? Not necessarily. Interestingly both of these acquisitions resulted in a significant improvement of ISO capabilities for the acquiring companies.
With more and more insurers leveraging ISO, vendor solutions that provide full support for ISO products will likely increase in popularity. The ability for insurers to quickly and easily extend base ISO products with proprietary product features without coding or help from a vendor could prove to be a significant differentiator for a carrier. Those vendors who enable that speed to market and agility are likely to rise higher on a carrier’s short list of potential options.
More policy administration vendors are working with ISO to identify ways to streamline the process and deliver efficiencies to the carriers but AQS and Camilion were/are clearly leaders in this space. Will AQS and Camilion products continue to be available in partnership with other vendors? Or will the acquirers look at this as a significant competitive advantage that they will retain more tightly.
For other technology vendors, this is clearly a call to continue to develop ISO capabilities. ISO carriers who are looking at new policy administration solutions should be sure to understand the level of ISO support being provided by their vendor. For more information about the impact of managing ISO and some of the choices available, take a look at this report on typical internal processes for ISO circulars.
- Mobile in Insurance Beyond Personal Lines: Current Trend and Expectations. Mobile has spread far beyond personal lines, with significant growth projected for this year and beyond for policyholder and agent/broker capabilities across the industry. Based on a survey of 75+ CIOs.
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in Insurance. BYOD is growing in insurance, but large and midsize insurers are taking different approaches. Based on a survey of 75+ CIOs.
- Moving Into Mobile. 3-page interview with Novarica partner Chad Hersh from this month’s Best’s Review on mobile trends in insurance. Clients and non-clients may download the full article for free.
- Contract Development Planning Checklist. The latest in our CIO best practices checklist series.
- Novarica ACE (Average Customer Experience) Rankings of 37 insurance software solutions, including solutions from Agencyport, Cincom, ECCA, FirstBest, Guidwire, Hyland Software, Innovation Group, Insuresoft, Intuitive Web Solutions, iPartners, Maximum Processing, MULTICO, Napersoft, NxTech, Oceanwide, OneShield, Optical Image Tech, Perceptive Software, Silanis, StoneRiver, SunGard, Thunderhead, Vertex, and Vertafore.
Summaries of all reports are available for free downloads on our site. Some of our recent reports include…
Business and Technology Trends
- Business and Technology Trends: Commercial Lines. Commercial market pricing is showing a decided recovery, leading commercial lines carriers to invest in core systems replacement, agent portal functionality, and business intelligence and predictive analytics.
- Business and Technology Trends: Workers’ Compensation. A distressingly high combined ratio in written premiums for WC carriers is driving a strong interest in core claims systems replacement, business intelligence, PAS replacements, and document management upgrades.
- Business and Technology Trends: Personal Lines. Serious profitability pressures on the personal lines market means carriers are focusing on growth strategies, expense reduction, and improving underwriting results.
(see full list of Business and Technology Trends Reports at http://www.novarica.com/sectorreports/)
CIO Surveys, Best Practices, and Case Studies
- US Insurer IT Budgets and Projects for 2013. Modest budget increases, core PAS replacement projects, business intelligence, agent portal enhancements, and mobile and social media pilots are all on the 2013 priority list for insurer CIOs.
- Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2012. These case studies, the fruit of the first annual Novarica Research Council Impact Awards, provide a useful set of examples of impactful IT projects. They offer insurer business and IT executives detailed examples across a broad range of diverse industry initiatives.
- Agile Development: Benefits, Challenges, and Organizational Change. Despite the many benefits, many insurance organizations have struggled to make the move to agile development. This report is designed to help CIOs understand the benefits of agile development and prepare for necessary changes.
Novarica Market Navigators
- Property/Casualty Rating Solutions. Profiled vendors include: Accenture, AQS, Camilion, CGI, Decision Research Corporation, Instec, OneShield, Oracle, SISTRAN, StoneRiver, and ValueMomentum.
- Insurance Distribution Management Solutions. Profiled vendors include: Callidus, CSC, MajescoMastek, Navagate, Oracle, Outline Systems, SAP, SunGard, Trilogy Software, Varicent, Vertafore, and VUE.
Executive Briefs and Checklists
- Minimizing Project Risk Checklist. Insurers’ core missions are tied to managing risk in a cost effective and predictable manner. This brief illuminates common factors that contribute to IT project failure and offers a checklist to reduce project risk.
- Insurance IT Transformation Checklist. In order to survive and thrive in the future, CIOs need to facilitate and support business transformation efforts. This report provides a roadmap of things to consider for a transformational program.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning. Insurers’ planning needs to account for likely disaster scenarios lest they put their customer relationships in peril at the very time the contractual promises they have made are needed most.
Our latest report in the Novarica Market Navigator series examines Property/Casualty Claims Solutions, which play a critical role in a carrier’s success. Accordingly, we found that 41% of large carriers we surveyed and 23% of midsize carriers rank upgrades to their claims systems among their top three projects for 2012.
This comes as no surprise. For many carriers, claims solutions were installed twenty years ago or more, making them hard to maintain and rendering the claims handling process a labor-intensive one. Whereas carriers had a limited number of choices for modern systems a few years ago, there is now a broad range of claims solutions available. These solutions include features that support automated processing and management of claims functions, and provide integrated workflow management and task or process management.
P/C carriers see claims as an area to invest in to drive growth and improve operational efficiency, and with a surge in the number of feature-rich solutions, carriers are acting to modernize. Indeed, we estimate in our report that P/C carriers completed between 50-60 claims systems new sales last year, and that 65-75 will be selected in 2012.
Like Novarica’s other Market Navigator reports, this one includes a survey of the current solution provider marketplace and profiles 34 vendor solutions. A free preview of the survey is available online.
My new column at INN is on Managing and Strengthening Vendor Relationships for insurer CIOs. Among the best practices outlined in the column:
- Join your vendors’ client advisory boards.
- Serve as a reference.
- Make sure pricing negotiations are win-win.
- Don’t fail to communicate.
- Bring all your vendors to the table.
Managing vendor relationships may not be in most CIOs’ comfort zones. After all, most IT groups are composed of engineers who prioritize technical capabilities over relationships. But in a world of increased interdependency, insurance technology leaders must develop these capabilities in order to be successful. With the business of insurance more dependent than ever on information technology-enabled capabilities, information technology teams must make sure their skills and abilities are adapted to their modern roles, in which partner management is as important as technology skill.
After I posted this, I received an email from a friend who recently retired from managing several large insurer accounts for a major enterprise systems and services vendor. He read the column and had these thoughts to add:
With the rapid rise of virtualization, and insurance companies driving more business critical applications through virtualized/distributed infrastructures, any serious outage is almost impossible to fix quickly without key vendors bringing highly technical resources to the table. I have seen this situation develop in many accounts in just the last 36 months.
Vendors will only respond with those resources under one of two conditions–either they have a large revenue stream from the customer (relative to that vendor’s particular type of business) or the customer must pay very high costs for support (not feasible in the current cost-conscious environment). Thus, selecting who those key vendors will be, and making sure it is a win-win situation, is critical.
Those that try to maintain the old vendor management model of “squeeze everything you can from the negotiations” will have increasing performance problems within IT operations and development (penny wise and pound foolish).
For the latest in our series of Novarica Market Navigator reports, we looked at ten solutions being used to provide agent portal capabilities for life and annuities insurers. Agent portals, a term which encompasses a range of capabilities like product illustrations, new business submission, account servicing, basic reporting, and now, straight-through processing capabilities, have become a significant and highly strategic technology assets for life and annuities insurers. The feature set is continuing to evolve, most recently with the emergence of electronic applications and straight through processing.
As insurers face an ever-growing market to select from when considering IT projects, the Novarica Market Navigator serves as a great guide for developing a shortlist of potential vendors. But when it comes to agency portals, it’s vital that insurers look at their decision in terms of their core systems strategy and overall e-business strategy. Likewise, it is critical that they understand the desires of the agency force and the growth and trends of the various distribution channels.
I’m thrilled to announce the publication of the most recent update to our Novarica Market Navigator reports on P/C and L/H/A policy administration systems. We looked at over 80 vendors for these studies, including 58 P/C solutions and 25 L/H/A solutions—by far the most comprehensive look we’ve taken at those markets to date. The resulting profiles are designed to help insurers navigate a marketplace that’s becoming only more complex.
With a third of insurers indicating that they are currently replacing or planning to replace a policy administration system, these reports couldn’t be timelier. In fact, more P/C and L/H/A carriers view PAS replacement as a top priority project than any other type of project. Many insurers learned—the hard way—that product agility and speed to market aren’t just buzzwords, but can make a world of different when trying to quickly enter or exit a line of business or product.
And with many project administration systems now being offered on non-legacy platforms, particularly for P/C, figuring out which solution to use has grown increasingly difficult for insurers. This report can provide carriers with valuable insights on where to start with their searches.
Meeting and exceeding expectations for agents, brokers, and customers requires changes to most carriers’ core systems, and we’re seeing that manifested in the surge of interest in policy administration systems and in the functionality provided by the systems. The other business drivers for core systems replacement—speed to market, product agility, internal workflow optimization, and data accessibility—continue to be key decision factors as well.
Novarica and Tech Decisions are pleased to announce the third annual 2012 RAVE Awards to recognize insurance software and IT service providers that deliver outstanding solutions based on feedback from their customers. Customers rated their vendor and the solution in staff, organization, functionality, technology, and overall satisfaction across 10 categories. Vendors whose customers completed Novarica’s ACE (Average Customer Experience) Ranking survey were eligible for a RAVE Award. You can read the full press release here.
The RAVE Awards were designed to recognize those solutions that are delivering exemplary value to their customers as measured by those customers themselves. As the number of insurers looking to solution providers for their technology needs grows, so too does the value of current client experience. Although the insurance industry has a long history of building its own technology solutions, the pendulum has been firmly passed on the ‘buy’ side of the ‘build vs. buy’ spectrum for the past few years across most core application areas.
We congratulate the 2012 winners.
For more about the Novarica ACE Rankings and a full list of ranked solutions, click here.