Sunday, September 21, 2014

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4,212 Reasons to Turn the Insurance Industry into a Connected Enterprise

Hundreds of complex insurance business processes insurance companies are managed inconsistently.
It's hard to believe, but the insurance industry routinely deals with at least 4,212 processes within 36 different insurance markets, across a practically limitless number of products. At any given time, your business will probably have to do business with one or more companies in one or more of these areas.
That's not easy. The hundreds of complex business processes insurance companies handle every day are typically managed inconsistently, often with homegrown single-problem solutions that are almost impossible to repeat across functional areas. The insurance industry has yet to become a true "connected enterprise" – it does not connect people and processes across and among business segments. The resulting inefficiency has a negative effect on productivity and profitability.
Before we get to answers, let's take a harder look at the scope of the problem:
Kate Gingras, Appian
Kate Gingras, Appian
Industry segments, markets and functions
Where do we get the daunting and very specific number 4,212? Let's split up all of the insurance industry into nine segments:
• Life • Health • General • Reinsurance • Captives • Self-Insured • Brokers • TPA • Lloyds
Multiplied by global, regional, mid-sized and small businesses, that's 36 markets. Each company in each segment may have at least three separate business units. Each separate business unit has at least 13 different functional areas. So, 36 markets with three divisions each and three business units dealing with at least 13 business functions means the insurance industry as a whole is dealing with a whopping 4,212 solutions that have to managed on a daily basis.
[Previously from Appian: Collaboration tools for Insurers]
And yet, as we've already said, the industry is hamstrung by processes that are not consistently addressed – even though software and automation solutions exist to do so. There are fundamental gaps in creating the interconnections that any modern business should aspire to. These gaps should connect:
1. People to Process
2. Process to Data
3. People to people
4. Organizations to customers
Gaps between the best practices, policies and procedures and the people doing the work cause delays, add expense and make more work. These gaps also compromise customer experience by burying customer service reps under a list of thousands of activities for hundreds of claims.
Even in cases where software applications are in place among companies, they fail to make all the appropriate connections. Singular solutions don't get to a connected enterprise.
The connected enterprise, defined
A truly connected enterprise in the insurance companies should be a single standardized user interface that accesses a series of screens, creating a single destination for whatever information is needed. After all, users shouldn't have to leave an application to find the information and address knowledge gaps.
In this connected enterprise, claims best practices should be connected to the claims processes – actually embedded as an automated step. Underwriting data should be electronically fetched from different electronic sources and fed into the underwriting process.
Agents, brokers and advisors should be able to request marketing support in the very same system used by the delivery team to manage their work.
Finance teams located across the world should use the same system to take adverse tax decisions.
Teams of underwriters receive notifications and alerts about their colleagues' activities – enabling them to collaborate, exchange ideas, share points of view – to make more informed decisions. Performance reports should be pushed out to everyone in the network – in real time – not just management. And actions can be taken from the same set of screens through which alerts are sent.
Better productivity and customer service
By applying a "connected enterprise" approach to the over 4,000 functions the industry deals with every day, efficiency and productivity are easily improved.
That's because everyone has their own view of the customer in a shared knowledge environment. So, when customer retention is a priority, appropriate tasks to save that customer can be automatically sent to advisors, based on results from an analytics engine. What's more, advisors can have access to all products and services offered, not just those offered by one division, to right-sell customers. Compliance with financial and regulatory compliance becomes automatic, with processes automatically updated as those requirements change.
Most importantly, everyone involved in the enterprise network – the people in headquarters, the field agents and third party service providers (like lawyers or the repair network) can be connected through a common set of easy-to-use screens, available through a single icon, that can be opened on a mobile device, laptop or desktop.
With 4,212 areas that have to be managed day-to-day, the question isn't why the insurance industry should move to a connected enterprise. The real question is – why hasn't it done so already?
About the author: Kate Gingras is Global Practice Leader, Insurance, for Appian.


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