Core System Strategies for the Fintech Age: LEGACY MODERNIZATION IN INSURANCE INDUSTRY, Part 6

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21 September 2016
Eiichiro Yanagawa

Finally, we will speak out the proposal from three perspectives...

  1. Automation to Complex Systems
  2. Core Standard and Local Variation
  3. Review Sourcing Models

Winding down this post series, Celent would like to put forth an approach specifically tailored to helping insurers formulate modernization plans.

This entails determining top-priority business strategy challenges, formulating a solid scope definition sufficiently reflecting a firm’s capabilities, strengths, and appetite for risk, architecture design, and assessing the feasibility of the project.

***

LANDSCAPE AND TARGETING

It is important to create a conceptual diagram that will function as a systems map, containing the peculiarities and implied information to give stakeholders a clear overview of the systems.

In addition, using a system landscape, which is an accepted industry approach to convey knowledge (including the constitutive elements of the core systems in the context of business goals and by involved stakeholder), companies can thrust the unique and peculiar elements into relief.

This task will probably be unfamiliar to Japanese insurers who have designed, developed, operated, and maintained their own core systems. In short, it will be difficult to determine

  • What is standardized?
  • What is peculiar?
  • What can be outsourced?
  • What should be internalized?

Identifying modernization targets, along with formulating the project scope definition, will facilitate setting business strategy priorities and will help lead to emphasizing core system priorities based on desired capabilities.

FIG6-1: Landscape and Targeting: Insurer System Landscape

FIG6-1

MODERNIZATION THAT AVOIDS RECREATING LEGACY ISSUES

The greatest risk of any legacy modernization project is recreating legacy issues.

Indeed, Celent regards this as more significant than both stable system operation and realizing a business case.

It is of paramount importance that modernization projects do not recreate legacy challenges but rather free firms from them. Celent puts forth the three proposals below to help ensure that insurer modernization initiatives are successful.

1. Automation and Its Application to Complex Systems

The key to attaining a high level of operational efficiency, not only among systems, but also with straight-through processing (STP) of insurance office tasks as well as office and communication processes, lies in applying automated business processes to complex systems tasks (this refers to processes that are excessively concentrated and frequently require exceptions processing).

When it comes to communication among insurer stakeholders (customers, intermediaries and agents, employees, management, and others involved in the market), it is important to look at several things including rethinking stakeholder interaction and communication (reports, contact, and consultation routes that occur in daily operations), making communication possible through a portal, and the possibility of consolidating existing applications such as workflow tools.

The capacity for insurance office activities to be automated (core processes, exceptions processing, eligibility criteria, business rule management, and business process management) is rooted in a common infrastructure and the monitoring tools of this infrastructure. The positions and opinions of many internal staff members, ranging from actuaries, underwriters, and marketing staff to name a few, must be considered when, for example, implementing a monitoring scheme, renewing automated rules and processes, and setting and modifying governance rules. In particular, for changes in rules or processes, the transition must be rapid and be able to respond to increased business volume. In addition, the objective of STP is to minimize exceptions processing. Eligibility criteria need to be used from the initial stages of the process even if conducting appropriate process routing.

FIG6-2: Automation to Complex Systems

FIG6-2

2. Establishment of Core Standard and Allowance for Local Variation

The key torealizing agile operations and reducing IT costs is determined by reusability and standardization in lower layers. Of the three layers of presentation, business logic, and data, the first two, must be shared to standardize and make the data layer reusable.

This is difficult as shown by the insurer responses indicating that "data model rigidity" is one of the largest IT challenges. While it may be difficult, if insurers do not address this matter, they are doomed to recreate their legacy issues.

FIG6-3: Core Standard and Local Variation

FIG6-3

To avoid being ensnared in this pitfall, Celent recommends referencing the below approach. These are universal issues that are applicable across industries, and Celent hopes to see vendors create tools and strategies that offer better solutions to this problem.

  • Presentation layer:
  • Configuration for unique user interface (even if fixed or common, configure using tool base).
  • Equip with framework for items such as shared user interface, reporting, and audit procedures, security (even if for unique user specifications, configure using tool base).
  • Business logic layer:
  • Architecture allowing common office processes and unique variations to operate in tandem.
  • Equip with rule library to implement unique variations and common office processes (even if for unique user specifications, configure using tool base).
  • Data layer:
  • Standard data model and field for adding unique items.
  • Mechanism to allow the use of non-structured data.

FIG6-4: Core Standard and Local Variation (cont.)

FIG6-4

3. Review Sourcing Models

Formulating a modernization plan should include a review of sourcing models. This should start with the design phase, involve assessment of the build phase, and sufficiently verify plan feasibility.

Global insurance IT firm offerings are many with options spanning core system build, operation, and maintenance. IT firms have expanded their scope of activities to include areas such as maintenance of existing applications, testing relating to the center of excellence (CoE), and data migration.

FIG6-5: Review Sourcing Models

FIG6-5

We should conclude this post series in this page.

KRQ #3: What does an insurer roadmap to modernization look like?

We’ve found the following:

  1. Legacy modernization framework.
  2. Understand your organization’s priority challenges and risk tolerance.
  3. Scope definition.
  4. Ensure that your modernization does not simply reproduce legacy issues.

Related releases:

Legacy Modernization in Japan’s Insurance Industry, Part 1: Survey Analysis and Status Update

Legacy Modernization in Japan’s Insurance Industry, Part 2: Prescriptions and Proposals

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