Wednesday Oct 12, 2011

Growing Distribution Channels through a Data-as-a-Service Approach

Growth continues to be foremost for North America life, health and annuity insurers, with carriers recognizing the need to refresh their distribution strategies to achieve this critical business imperative. To remain competitive in today’s dynamic market, insurers require the ability to accelerate the quote-to-issue process, while improving their speed of service through streamlined data distribution, consolidation and sharing with their producers and service providers.

During Oracle OpenWorld last week Kevin Walma, vice president, Insurance Products, and Tanya Ho-Wai, product strategy director, shared Oracle's vision for life, health and annuities. They also discussed the benefits that a centralized distribution approach can bring to carriers—in particular one that provides direct data-as-a-service connectivity to their producers and service providers. (You can learn more by downloading my new Oracle Insurance strategy brief, "Making Profitable Connections: A Data-as-a-Service Approach to Growing Insurance Distribution Channels." )

Slow application processing that involves multiple points of connection can negatively impact new submission turnaround times and placement ratios for new policies. In addition, the need for data reentry into multiple carrier and back-office agency systems can further slow time-to-issue and contribute to the risk of errors.

By integrating critical data streams across all stakeholders in the application process and automating key aspects of the quote-to-issue cycle, insurance companies can reduce their average policy application and issuance cycle time and increase sales opportunities—all without increasing their operational costs.

Carriers that leverage a solution such as the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange—one of the largest, online data-as-a-service exchanges for life, health, and annuities—can improve service to current producers by providing a single, secure destination for accessing spending case status, commissions statements and carrier state appointment status. It also provides producers with a single touch point to submit new business applications to multiple carriers.

In a YouTube interview last week Ho-Wai shared some recent enhancements to Oracle Insurance Data Exchange, including expanded service ordering capabilities. Producers can place orders for services—such as paramedical examinations, attending physician’s statements and more—with leading service providers to initiate the fulfillment process and speed processing. Each participating carrier’s underwriting tables are maintained on the data exchange to enable ease of use when entering and submitting service orders, while ensuring accuracy. Plus, service ordering is available both as a direct connect data service and through the Oracle Insurance QuickView web portal.

In another YouTube interview Ho-Wai along with IE Network’s Nathan Collins highlighted how the direct connect integration services available through data exchange benefits carriers, producers, and carriers.  They also announced the launch of a new Oracle Mix community that enables users to register and share best practices for leveraging the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange.

Click here to access Oracle Mix, create your account, and join the Oracle Insurance Data Exchange group.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Friday Oct 07, 2011

Driving “The Need for Speed” for Insurance Carriers

Yesterday while watching The Blue Angels take to the skies over San Francisco in preparation for San Francisco Fleet Week I was reminded of a conversation that I had earlier this week with a client from an insurance carrier attending Oracle OpenWorld. In particular, it reminded me of the iconic line delivered by Tom Cruise’s naval aviator “Maverick” and his RIO “Goose” in Top Gun: “I feel the need…the need for speed.”

This customer, a technology leader for a Tier I carrier and also a fan of The Blue Angels, explained how his company’s previous legacy policy administration system had limited its ability to support the “need for speed”--ultimately constraining the ability to evolve and grow their business. Since implementing the Oracle Insurance Policy Administration the carrier has dramatically reduced its product development cycle and time to launch annuity products to market. It is also differentiating how it conducts business with its customers and distribution channel through improved speed of service.

In their session, “Adapt, Transform and Grow: Oracle’s Vision and Strategy for the Life Market,” at Oracle OpenWorld this week Kevin Walma, Chuck Johnston and Kate Fowler discussed key trends impacting how insurers are conducting business. They also highlighted the recent and planned investments in Oracle’s adaptive insurance solutions for life, health and annuities, including policy administration, data-as-as-service distribution, business intelligence and more.

You can learn more about Oracle Insurance’s commitment to this segment of the industry—and how its solutions are helping insurers drive their “need for speed” by watching Oracle Insurance YouTube video interviews with Walma and Fowler and Johnson .

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Friday Sep 16, 2011

Core Systems Modernization: Still a Top IT Priority for Insurers in Coming Decade?

Carrie Burns, editor of Insurance Networking News , wrote an interesting article this week highlighting Celent’s new report, “Reviving the Insurance Core Systems Business Case.”

 In “Core Systems Modernization a Concern for the Next Decade,” Burns notes that insurance technology experts have been discussing core systems modernization for the past decade—and based on Celent's research serious legacy modernization and transformation “will continue to be on insurers’ priority lists for the next decade.”

According to the article, the move towards action is a result of “more than just lack of functionality in legacy systems or the inability to quickly bring about organic growth by developing new products and markets. Difficulties in hiring qualified IT staff with the necessary skills to support legacy platforms are real, and most insurers expect this issue to get worse. Ultimately, Celent says, the business case for legacy modernization should support incremental improvements, which are realized as hard benefits, but also enable the strategic flexibility that will allow insurers to compete more effectively. 

“Some insurers know this and are moving forward, converting to modern approaches and languages, bringing new functionality online and enabling quick product introductions and organic growth.” Click here to read the full article. 

You also can learn more about how insurance carriers are modernizing their IT infrastructures with Oracle’s policy administration, revenue management and billing and other adaptive insurance solutions to better support their business during Oracle OpenWorld next month in San Francisco, Calif.  

The insurers I’ve spoken with who are already registered are looking forward to several key insurance-track sessions.  This includes the insurance keynote session “Make Your Next Move Count:  Priorities and Choices in Insurance Management” featuring Shohreh Abedi, CIO of Farmers Insurance, and Christopher Eberly, Distributor Services, Head of IT for ING.  Both will be joined for what promises to be a compelling and lively panel discussion by James Dewaker, Cognizant, and Oracle Insurance executives Don Russo and Chuck Johnston.  Click here to learn more or register for Oracle OpenWorld. 

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.














Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Why Your Proof-of-Concept Should Be a Proof-of-Capability

Policy administration systems are core to a carrier's operation. Replacing these systems presents more risk than nearly any other IT project. Carriers should carefully weigh the risks against the benefits as they build the business case for embarking on a modernization project.

In a previous Oracle Insurance Blog I highlighted best practices recommended bySecurian Financial Group's Denise Smieja about the company’s successful approach to replacing its legacy policy administration system. Smieja along with Roger Soppe, Oracle Insurance, were among Insurance & Technology magazine’s virtual roundtable of industry experts that recently weighed in on this topic. While Smieja offered insight on criteria carriers should consider when developing a request for proposal, Soppe focused on another critical step in the evaluation process: the proof-of-concept (POC).

In the article, Setting the Stage with a Solid Proof of Concept, Soppe noted that while many insurers are familiar with the idea of a POC, they may skip this important step due to time or budget constraints. He cited how a leading North American life insurance carrier demonstrated the value of a POC in proving the capabilities of the “people, process and technology” of the vendors and systems integrators being evaluated for its policy administration migration project.

“Other carriers can adopt this idea of a ‘proof-of-capability’ in their own policy admin transformation projects,” advised Soppe in the article. “This process reduces risk and helps build buy-in across the organization. This approach can be crucial to receiving a green light -- it is the final validation of all of the research and decision making that the carrier has done to date and sets the stage for success.”

Click here to read more or click here to download the Oracle Insurance strategy brief, “Proof-of-Concept Done Right: Mitigating the Risk of Policy Administration System Migrations.”

You can also learn more about Oracle Insurance and how insurance carriers are leveraging its solutions to adapt to change, better service customers, and better manage their business for compliance and growth at Oracle OpenWorld, next month in San Francisco, Calif.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.

Monday Sep 12, 2011

Building the Business Case for Policy Administration Replacement

Proof-of-Concept Done Right: Mitigating the Risk of Policy Administration System Migrations

How can insurers build an effective business case for policy administration system replacement? Insurance & Technology magazine recently asked a virtual roundtable of insurance industry experts, including Denise Smieja, Securian Financial Group, and Roger Soppe, Oracle Insurance, to weigh in on this hot topic and share recommended best practices for success.

In discussing Securian Financial Group’s successful policy administration transformation project, Smieja explained that the carrier’s business goals for new product development focused on flexibility and the ability to rapidly develop innovative, market-standard products—capabilities that were lacking in Securian’s previous legacy system.

“One of the critical changes we wanted was a consistent release cycle for new products,” noted Smieja in the article. “We struggled to introduce one product per year—we needed to improve that and be able to quickly launch new products, enhancements and regulatory changes. We are now committed to four product releases (either new products or enhancements) annually.”

Smieja also advised carriers to gather input from various disciplines across the company, including IT, actuarial, new business and in-force administration, when embarking on a request for proposal process. Important factors for consideration when evaluating a policy administration system include usability, technical fit with the corporate infrastructure, and configurability to support unique business rules and processes.

You can learn more about the best practices discussed by Smieja by reading Securian Financial Group Supports Innovation. You also can read the full article in last month’s print edition of Insurance & Technology.

Highlights of the best practices offered by Soppe will be covered in an upcoming Oracle Insurance Blog.

Helen Pitts is senior product marketing manager for Oracle Insurance's life and annuities solutions.


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