Tuesday Feb 24, 2015

What’s New with Oracle Insurance Insbridge Enterprise Rating 4.9?

Insurers today are faced with highly competitive marketplace conditions that are forcing them to look for meaningful ways to increase revenue and reduce costs. Rating quickly emerges as a core process that can help carriers achieve profitable growth.  For those insurers able to implement unique, quality rating models more rapidly, they can expect to realize a competitive advantage which will result in increased revenue. If they are also able to efficiently simplify their rate management process by using higher quality business tools such as Oracle Insurance Insbridge Enterprise Rating solution, they can also expect lowers costs and improved rating accuracy.

Oracle is pleased to announce the new release of Oracle Insurance Insbridge Enterprise Rating 4.9. Continuing on the theme of innovation to deliver greater value, the Oracle Insurance Insbridge 4.9 release delivers a broad range of enhancements in many areas such as usability, productivity, performance and reporting. Several highlights of the new release are:

  • Improved Access to Rating Data – Rating/underwriting and actuarial/predictive analytics are at the center of many of the initiatives being pursued by insurance carriers to capture opportunities, enhance financial performance, respond to increased regulation and mitigate risk.

    In Insbridge 4.9, a new “Reporting” database that provides customers access to rating content in a relational data structure and format has been added to the RateManager database. With this feature, users now have the ability to use Oracle or third-party reporting application(s) to generate custom reports for further analysis from information received directly from the database.
  • Expanded Usability – We always strive to improve the ease-of-use in the product and increase the quality of user experience. In Insbridge 4.9, we added several new features such as:
    • Custom Constants are user-defined constant values that are used in algorithm development. Custom constants that can be created and utilized at the system level as well as at the line of business level.
    • Message Templates allow for system-wide message creation and program level variable substitution. This allows for messages that can be more easily maintained and adjusted to fit program-specific information.
    • New Mathematical Functions such as gamma and natural log are now available. These new statistical and logarithm step types let users create calculations that better reflect their rating process.
    • The Output Mapping screen has been enhanced with better sorting, searching, and filtering options. In addition, users can select to add or remove multiple variables, and reorder the output listing. This makes the Output Mapping screen more manageable, and easier to use.
    • A redesigned debug report layout allows for information to be presented in a single report format where summary information is presented first. Detailed views are shown when the summary is expanded. This change makes the debug report better organized and more easily viewed.
  • Increased Productivity – In Insbridge 4.9 we have added features that improve the time it takes to create and manage programs and increase user productivity.
    • Users can now copy global level variables to the local level within a subline. Instead of reentering a variable that already exists at the global level, users can now just copy that variable and specify what local program within the subline that this variable needs to go with.
    • The sequencing screen now allows users to select and move multiple items. Instead of moving algorithms, underwriting rules and driver assignments one at a time, users can select the items they need and either add or remove them all at once. This significantly reduces the amount of time needed to create a sequence.
  • Enhanced Performance – Improving system performance is a part of every release we do.
    • For release 4.9, we are updating to newer and faster platforms to increase performance and to reflect the systems and applications that our users have. Platform and application updates include support for:
      • Oracle WebLogic 12.1.3 (12c)
      • Oracle Database 12.1.0.1.0 (12c)
      • IBM WebSphere 8.5
      • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
      • Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5
    • Cache enhancements also have been added to the Insbridge SoftRater Server (IBSS) for release 4.9. Administrators can limit how much SoftRater Engine cache should be held in local machine memory. Additionally, administrators can specify how to purge the data once the limit is reached.

Today, the Oracle Insurance team is very excited to work with insurers to help reduce their operating costs while transforming their business processes so they can deliver products quickly to market and be more profitable in the future. Enterprise rating applications, such as Oracle Insurance Insbridge 4.9, can be the driving force behind that successful transformation.

For more information, visit the Oracle Insurance Insbridge Enterprise Rating product page.

Don’t forget to keep up with us year-round:

Thursday Feb 19, 2015

Oracle’s Dave Shively Offers His Thoughts on Core System Solution and Vendor Selection

Dave Shively, Oracle's Senior Director of Life and Annuity Policy Administration, discusses the topic of core system solution and vendor selection in today’s post:

Over the past ten years, the vendor landscape for back-office Insurance solutions has changed tremendously. The number of offerings based on modern technology has increased dramatically and the breadth of capabilities offered by these solutions has also improved significantly. As the market evolves, capabilities that were once cutting edge become default and new functionality becomes differentiating. Capabilities which once were “nice to have” are now “need to have.”   

The current vendor landscape can be broken down into the following classifications:

  • Emerging Players - newer vendors who are starting to gain a foothold in the marketplace, but do not yet have a proven track record.
  • Market Pillars - established players with very strong vendor credentials, but whose technology has not kept up with the competition.
  • Innovators - have demonstrated innovative product strengths that act as their competitive advantage in appealing to niche segments of the market but whose solutions may not yet be ready for enterprise level deployment.
  • Champions - have a strong market presence, modern competitive solution, and are the trendsetters for the industry.

When assessing the viability of a solution vendor, it is important to not only consider the strength of their product offerings, but also their strategy and reach. For their product offerings, evaluation criteria would include functionality, advanced features, affordability, usability and architecture. The other important parameter driving a product’s strength is its adaptability –providing fundamental business capabilities along with the ability to adapt to change and support growth and changing business and regulatory requirements over time.

But there are several factors that should be considered when choosing a vendor partner that go beyond the capabilities of the solution itself.  Carriers have to keep in mind that selecting a Core System ties you to the product vendor for years to come.  The average life-span of a Core System in a carrier is more than 30 years so it is important to consider not only the immediate need, for which the solution is being selected, but also the longer term needs and viability of the solution.  A few of the factors to consider include:

Financial Stability and Transparency

The long term stability of your vendor is critical to the success of your business. Vendors showing poor financial performance/statements are risky as there is a significant probability of acquisition or even insolvency. There are many examples of vendors who have created innovative solutions but could not weather market down cycles.  Vendors not willing to share audited financial information or shying away from providing an accurate picture of the past performance of their products/offerings are likely doing so for a reason. Hence, selecting vendors who can prove that they are financially stable, profitable is undoubtedly a critical criteria for selection.

Resources – Ongoing Product Investment

Significant levels of investment are required for sustained development of next generation products, maintenance of current products and customer support. Additionally, investments done in R&D that add to the performance, stability, functionality, reliability of the product demands depth of industry experience, true knowledge of the solution and a rich experience in implementing the solution. Hence, selecting a vendor who has industry experience, solution knowledge and product implementation expertise along with a proven track record of ongoing product investment is key. Additionally, as with anything you buy, there are fees and costs associated with investment products and services. Fees that seem small initially but over time grow, such as ongoing consulting fees, may have a major impact on your investment portfolio over time. All ongoing fees and charges should be well understood and vetted in order to ensure you are getting good value for each dollar paid over the life of the product.

Experience in Domain

Domain experience is critical not only to implementation success, but also to the long-term viability of the solution. Minute details of the industry are known only to those who’ve spent years in the Industry rather than having just researched it.  With regard to the implementation of the solution, you want to ensure the vendor team has the experience to quickly understand your business needs rather than your team having to educate them about basic insurance principles.  In addition, you want to make sure that the product development team understands the Insurance market so that the solution evolves with the market rather than stagnating and becoming irrelevant.  In addition, it is not only important that the vendor can put forward one or two industry experts, but rather you should look for a team of people supporting the solution who all have a solid understanding of the Insurance business.

Scalability

While most vendors profess to have a scalable solution, it is important to look for proof points around this supposition.  A vendor should be able to provide large scale implementation references, have well documented scalability testing results, and be able to succinctly articulate how their solution achieves scalability.  They should be willing to let your technical team “under the hood” so they can understand the underlying architecture and how it responds as business volume increases.

Documentation

Documentation detailing the use of product features and configuration capabilities are a basic requirement for a complete packaged solution. Guides providing installation and use instructions that are well-documented and readily available with the product are critical for the adoption of the solution by your organization.

Product Vendor versus IT Services Provider

A recent trend in the marketplace is the acquisition of industry products by services companies in order to drive services revenue.  The challenge is that services companies lack the basic product management disciplines such as providing technical support, packaging and rolling out software upgrades, supporting new releases of platform software (OS, DB, Web server), and generally having discipline around product strategy.  In addition, they are not incented to provide rich out-of-the-box functionality; rather they want to create solutions that drive services revenue by providing good core capabilities but requiring a carrier to pay for services to “customize” the solution to their needs.

Experience

Last, and perhaps most important, is the vendor’s relevant experience implementing their solution for similar carriers.  They should be able to provide both case studies and references for customers that are of a similar size and with similar product lines.  In addition, it is important to look at their list of customers that have the solution live and in production today to verify what they are telling you about their ability to successfully deliver their solution.  Just because they have sold to a lot of carriers does not mean they have a track record of success on the delivery side.

The Bottom Line

Following these criteria can result in creating long term partnerships and strategic engagements, the output of which can be the best business-product evolution in the industry. When insurers connect their business with a product and vendor well-equipped to meet today’s challenges and provide a platform for future growth, the best is sure to follow.

Tuesday Feb 10, 2015

Transform Your Enterprise through Core Systems Consolidation

The life insurance industry is facing decreasing revenues. Written premiums have been flat or even decreasing since 2012, and coupled with interest rates that have been falling, we are now at historic lows – making it harder for life carriers to grow the business. As regulations, industry, competitors, and consumer needs change, life insurance and annuity carriers must continue to adapt their product portfolios and introduce new products faster to market to gain competitive advantage and sustain growth.

Dave Shively, Oracle's Senior Director of Life and Annuity Policy Administration, discusses how insurers can approach consolidation of core systems:

Unfortunately for many carriers, their aging, legacy policy administration systems prevent or inhibit rapid changes to products or processes. Many carriers are struggling with policy administration systems that are over 30 years old. These aging systems impede carriers from capitalizing on growth opportunities or reacting to competitive pressures. These systems also require significant maintenance, thus reducing profits. However, insurers can overcome these challenges by consolidating distributed and aging policy administration systems into a modern, flexible system that can improve business agility.

There are many benefits that carriers can gain by replacing their old systems with a modern system such as Oracle Insurance Policy Administration for Life and Annuity. Our customers have achieved benefits such as faster time-to-market for new products, enhanced customer service, increased flexibility on product configuration, improved management and distribution by taking advantage of a modern system that is scalable and high-performance to support growth in the business.

In fact, one large multi-national carrier with tens of millions of active policies in several business units is currently implementing Oracle Insurance Policy Administration. They do business in more than 15 countries and wanted to standardize their solution into one modern policy administration system. The challenge facing the company was the urgent need for new modern systems to replace multiple aging policy admin platforms across the group. The carrier recognized that none of these legacy platforms met the requirements necessary to fulfill the strategy put forward, and they decided to standardize using the Oracle Insurance Policy Administration solution.

To learn more about how this company is achieving transformational results from policy modernization and is overcoming challenges by consolidating distributed policy administration systems, we invite you to watch the recent webcast hosted by LOMA and sponsored by Oracle.

Join Us for Oracle Industry Connect in Washington, DC, March 25-26, 2015

The impact of digital disruption is being felt in the financial services industry. Join us for open and provocative discussions during Oracle Industry Connect, an exclusive event taking place March 25–26, 2015 in Washington DC. The Financial Services and Insurance program brings together top business and IT executives from leading financial institutions including insurers, healthcare payers, and banks. Join your industry peers for in-depth conversations on trends, challenges and opportunities facing insurers today.

Don’t forget to keep up with Oracle Insurance year-round via social media.

Thursday Jan 08, 2015

Core Technology Platform for Health System of the Future

With healthcare costs rising annually over last decade, health reform is at the forefront of many developed and emerging market countries. In many developing nations, the focus of reform is around business models that have more involvement from private sector, while the focus of the reform in the United States is on business models that incent providers to cut costs while improving quality.

However health reform is in its infancy globally, and there is constant change expected over next several years as governments experiment with various business models. Under those circumstances, there is need for a new genre of technology options to cater to the health system of the future. Current inflexible platforms, and even the newer flexible platforms that require health plans to rip-and-replace entire core operational systems, aren’t going to work for emerging health plan needs. Health insurers need to consider “progressive transformation” approach where there is a phased approach to overall end-to-end core systems transformation.  Additionally, insures need to look at options that provide value-based payment support and that work in parallel with their current core processing systems.

Oracle Health Insurance (OHI) business unit within Oracle is dedicated to address the needs of the global health insurance market. The OHI Claims solution was first introduced in 1994 in the Netherlands to cater to the needs of the Dutch market. Today, over 50% of the health insurers in Netherlands run their core operations on Oracle Health Insurance solutions, with many achieving over 98% auto adjudication on claims processing. Furthermore, OHI applications have now been successfully deployed in the United States and other international markets.

The OHI team has spent the last couple of years on developing a technology platform for the newer and emerging health insurance business models.  As a team, we are working with governmental institutions and private companies to understand and help these organizations with their transformation projects. Given our origin in Netherlands, we routinely host health officials and delegations from the emerging market countries considering health transformation to study the Dutch system.

Based on those leanings, we are starting blog series to explore different aspects of the health reform as it impacts health insurance organizations.  We will present business transformation imperatives one at a time and explore technology options to support this. We encourage you to start by downloading our new white paper Building the Healthcare System of the Future. It lays the groundwork for some of the topics we’ll be discussing in the blog series, such as:

  • Driving Transparency with Benefit Adjudication
  • End of Fee for Service? Gaining Popularity of Shared Saving Plans
  • Engaging with Health Providers in Future
  • Real-time Claims Adjudication to Enhance Member and Provider Service
  • Technology Platform for Health Insurance Exchanges
  • Administering Government Programs in a Cost-effective Way

At the end of the series, we will summarize all of the imperatives ahnd present a holistic platform for the health system of future.

Learn More at Oracle Industry Connect in Washington, DC, March 25-26, 2015

Oracle Industry Connect is a premier conference designed to promote innovation and transformation through open and provocative discussion within the Financial Services and Insurance communities. The event brings together top business and IT executives from leading financial institutions including healthcare payers, insurers and banks. Join your industry peers for in-depth discussions on trends, challenges and opportunities facing healthcare payers and insurers today.

Check Back for New Posts

We hope to create a lively discussion throughout this blog series.  Please participate with your comments and thoughts as it will enrich the experience as we embark on this transformational journey of Healthcare Reform.

Please check back soon for our next post. In the meantime, you can keep up with Oracle Insurance year-round via social media.

Wednesday Jan 07, 2015

Live Webcast with INN: Grow Business by Streamlining the Entire Opportunity-To-Quote-To-Application Process

The economic realities of today’s insurance market make it harder than ever to achieve profitable growth. There is a need for insurers to reduce costs while growing their business. The web has changed the landscape, and customers now expect products and services to be configured to meet their needs, as well as fast and accurate price quotes and fulfillment. Have you aligned your sales process with the way customers are now buying?

One of the key ways that insurers can grow their business is by optimizing the conversion of sales opportunities into revenue. Insurers can transform their business process by combining their configure, price and quote system with an enterprise rating solution. The result allows insurers to streamline the entire opportunity-to-quote-to-application process including product selection, configuration, pricing, quoting, application, and approval workflows. Learn how to:

  • Increase ease-of-use to dramatically reduce the rate creation and revision process
  • Enhance pricing discipline
  • Improve sales cycles and margins

Join Oracle and Insurance Networking News for this webcast to learn how today’s technology solutions can help insurers achieve profitable growth.

  • January 20, 2015
  • 2:00pm Eastern / 11:00am Pacific
  • Register Now

For more information on how Oracle’s solutions for insurers and healthcare payers can be used to support your business, visit oracle.com/insurance.

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Oracle's flexible solutions can help insurers navigate the change necessary to meet today’s challenges and have the business agility to be prepared for the future.

For more information, visit oracle.com/insurance.

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