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1 December 2017
Tom Scales

So much attention is focused on ‘being digital’ and the ‘customer experience’ that little attention is being made to the core of any insurance company – the back office. Celent certainly has a strong focus on innovation, disruption, and digital, but we also keep our fingers on the pulse of the core.

Every two years, Celent reviews policy administration systems on a global basis. Across all lines, this represents over 300 different systems to review. The project is monumental, but we do it because we recognize the importance of a modern core system in any insurer of the future. The process alone is daunting. We treat the process much the same as an insurer would for a system selection, just on a global, multi-line scale. We use a request for information that we have refined for years to ensure we are asking the questions insurers would ask. After all, most of Celent’s analysts of been in the seat of our readers. We’re former CIOs, COOs, CMOs, and more.

The project consumes a lot of people in our organization for many months. This is not a high-level look – it is a deep dive. Once we receive the RFIs back (which, we admit, sometimes requires us to be a bit pushy with some vendors), we determine if they are eligible for our ABCD view. This more in-depth look for the vendors that qualify for the ABCD includes gathering information about recent sales, ensuring we receive customer feedback from the vendor’s customers, a scripted demonstration, and an analyst’s opinion of the system by one of our global analysts. We all try to view as many systems as possible, as it really helps us, as a team, understand the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly.

To be eligible for an ABCD view, for which we recognize category leaders, a vendor’s system must have at least two sales in the last two years, being implemented, and in production. This isn’t a view of what could be or what used to be, but what is being done today, successfully. The customer feedback is particularly enlightening. Here is out we define the categories:

ABCD CATEGORIES

POSSIBLE FACTORS

Advanced Technology (and flexible technology)

Platform and Modernity (Code base, platform, databases, localization capabilities, etc.)

UI (Ease of use, mobility)

Data and adaptability/extendibility (Openness of application, code base, data model, etc.)

Integration (Web services, APIs, reference comments)

Scalability and cloud (Cloud readiness, largest installations, etc.)

Ease of change (Change tooling, debugging capabilities, etc.)

Celent opinion of demo and system

Breadth of Functionality

Functions and features provided in base offering

In production lines of business and number of deployments for each

User experience

Celent opinion of demo and system

Customer Base

Number of live insurers using the system for life, health, or annuities lines of business

New client momentum

Depth of Customer Service

Size professional services and support team in region

Insurers’ post-implementation experiences

Once we put all these steps into place and add a bit of our alchemy, we produce an entire series of reports. Some areas, such as Life and P&C, have enough vendors to require regional reports. For these systems, we have separate regional reports.For other areas, such as Health, we do a global report. We even publish a separate report for vendors in the Group/Voluntary space, as we recognize how hot that part of the market is today. The first of the series, Life and Annuity in North America, published this week. The rest will publish through the next quarter.

As the former CIO and COO for a top five life insurer, I went through this process. I admit I wish I had the Celent reports at the time. My company, and I, were cheap. I thought we could do it ourselves. After all, I have years of vendor experience, as did my team. We did the selection and we made a good choice, but in hindsight, the process would have been faster, less expensive, and more reliable if I had access to these reports. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, isn’t it? Yes, I recognize that I just tooted our own horn a bit, but I do believe. It’s one of the reasons I chose to join Celent four years ago.

So if you have read this far and are waiting patiently for me to share the best systems in the market, well, I am sorry. That isn’t going to happen. I can say that there are amazing systems available today. Systems that will give your organization a level of flexibility, speed, and agility that you do not have today. Systems that will interconnect to your digital future seamlessly. Systems that will enhance your back office and front office efficiency. There are good systems available:the best I have ever seen, and I’ve been in this industry a long, long time (some of my first code is probably still running in Life/70).

So if you’re a customer, logon and download the reports. If you are a customer and need help, let me know.

If you’re not a customer, but know you need to transform your company, reach out. We’d love to talk.

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