The increasingly competitive insurance market is driving organisations to innovate faster than ever. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) becomes a vital element of this if implemented correctly, according to Stuart Blyth, director at SilverBridge.
“Testing new products in the market quickly has always been an important business driver for an insurer. But in an age where consumers are more informed than in the past, differentiation is that much more difficult to achieve. Adding to the complexity is the availability of new technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, real-time analytics, and chat bots. This is putting even more pressure on decision-makers to stay aware of new developments and how they could impact the business while still focusing on daily operations,” he says.
Combine these elements with the influx of data points into the insurer and traditional on-site solutions are no longer good enough to remain innovative. In a digital environment, more opportunities exist utilising cloud or SaaS solutions. But instead of being a pure technology decision, SaaS should be fundamental to the entire organisational strategy going forward.
Impact of slow decision-making
“Take larger companies as an example. Irrespective of how much budget they have at their disposal to implement SaaS or other new technologies, it makes no difference if decisions are not made fast enough. As an example, we have seen solutions which would help a business department become twice as efficient, take the IT department more than 18 months to make a decision even though there was budget for the project.
“Often, in larger insurers, development and implementation are hampered between what the internal IT team thinks the best solution is and what is needed for the business. In this case, IT needs to realise it is there to help the organisation meet its business objectives and not necessarily be technically perfect,” he says.
For smaller insurers, there are other considerations to keep in mind.
“Smaller insurers usually do not have the in-house skills to maintain software, or the budgets to ensure hardware requirements are kept up to date with traditional on-site implementations. When these two elements are combined, there is always the risk of failed deployments resulting in system crashes,” he says.
Blyth believes that SaaS alleviates these problems as the maintenance burden shifts to the vendor.
“In the cloud environment, it is the vendor that needs to ensure the infrastructure meets minimum requirements, is responsible for correct deployment of new code and scripts and for keeping all the SaaS systems running as effectively as possible.”
While individual insurers need to examine the solution and approach ideal for their needs, the reality is that SaaS does provide a cost-effective alternative to more traditional options. It is now a case of when, rather than if, SaaS needs to be deployed at the business if it wants to remain relevant in the digital age.