The Modern Digital Platform: Unifying Transactions, Content, and Workflows

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1 The Modern Digital Platform: Unifying Transactions, Content, and Workflows There is real value for insurers that are able to effectively unify transactions, content, and workflows to holistically support the natural way insurance professionals need to work to best accomplish their responsibilities. This paper investigates the benefits of the expanded integration of core and ECM solutions. SMA Research and experience is combined with insurer interviews for insight on how insurers have approached the challenges and the key lessons they have learned. An Author: Mark Breading, Partner Published Date: Oct Page 1

2 Table of Contents About This White Paper This white paper is based on SMA s experience, research, and insights. Hyland Software has purchased the distribution rights to this research and white paper. This is not paidfor research. A Unified Technology Foundation 3 Expanding View Regarding Efficiencies New Digital Strategies New Levels of Integration 4 Modernization Considerations End User Implications Implementation Options Integration and Modernization Experience and Insights 5 Exploring Alternate Approaches Experience Highlights Learning Points SMA Call to Action 9 About Strategy Meets Action 9 Page 2

3 A Unified Technology Foundation Insurers need speed and flexibility like never before. The technology foundation must be able to unify transactions, content, and workflows so that every insurance professional can work efficiently and have full insight in the proper context at the right time. We are witnessing profound change in every aspect of our industry. Maturing and emerging technologies are opening the doors to new possibilities and opportunities. New approaches are shifting the competitive landscape. New business models and new competitors are appealing to customers and often able to deliver more value. All of these forces are placing pressure on insurers to introduce innovative products, improve the customer experience, and establish new, non-traditional partnerships. Insurers need speed and flexibility like never before. The simple fact is that the industry is changing. Insurers must adapt. The ability to support new ways of doing business and new product and service offerings is mandatory. Success requires the capabilities to anticipate and effectively react to market opportunities and challenges and that requires a modern, agile technology foundation. The technology foundation must be able to unify transactions, content, and workflows so that every insurance professional can work efficiently and have full insight in the proper context at the right time. The goal is a full picture that enables appropriate action and optimal response at every customer touchpoint, regardless of how the engagement takes place electronically, digitally, in person, via voice, or via a document enabling exemplary customer service. This requires tight integration between the operational capabilities that support policy services, billing, and claims, with ECM systems that support document and content capabilities and workflow orchestration. Expanding View Regarding Efficiencies The efficiency of internal operations has always been vital in the insurance industry. However, the traditional and primary focus relative to operational efficiency was on productivity, and that translated into expense control. That fact has not changed, but in today s world efficiency efforts need to extend beyond just cutting internal operational costs. Operational efficiency must enable policy service, billing, and claims personnel to provide an excellent customer and/or agent experience. This allows customer facing individuals to focus on what they do best in a way that can enhance the customer experience. New Digital Strategies The focus on improving the customer experience, operating on par with other industries, and prospering in the digital age is driving many insurers to create and execute digital insurer strategies. These are sustained efforts to become more digital in every part of the business, across the insurance value chain, and across the customer lifecycle. This means that all forms of content documents, transactions, digital conversations ( , chat), images must not only be created and captured in any possible digital format, but they must also be managed so that the right content is available immediately in the format needed to support regular workflows. Insurers that are striving to become digital insurers are working to provide a modern digital platform that will help them prosper in this rapidly evolving environment. At the heart of a modern digital platform, modern core and ECM solutions are needed. Core systems modernization solutions and/or replacement initiatives are underway or planned Page 3

4 at many insurance companies. These solutions are being implemented with the recognition that modern ECM solutions are also required to manage digital content and orchestrate common workflows to effectively use the skills of insurance professionals and to optimize the quality of the user experience. New Levels of Integration The tight integration of core and ECM solutions provides support for the natural way business users conduct business. With a modern digital platform, insurance professionals using core policy, billing, and claims systems in their daily activities don t have to think in terms of data and systems. The tight integration of core and ECM solutions provides support for the natural way business users conduct business. With a modern digital platform, insurance professionals using core policy, billing, and claims systems in their daily activities don t have to think in terms of data and systems. They don t have to think about whether data is structured or unstructured. And they don t have to think about which system they need to use to process a transaction, or which system they need to use to manage documents and other digital content. Insurance professionals only have to think in terms of how to best manage their activities in order to best serve policyholders and that is exactly how they should be thinking. Ultimately, the tighter the integration between the core systems and the ECM systems, the better to provide a unified interface and workflow to the business users conducting business on behalf of customers. In technology terms, this includes processing structured transactions; creating, routing, and managing unstructured documents and content; and combining all these elements so the business users have easy access to all the information they need at any point in time. Modernization Considerations As insurers develop plans for implementing modern core and ECM solutions, there are a number of key factors to consider. Modern core solutions are integration-friendly able to work with each other as well as other systems. They are based on a plug-and-play platform that gives insurers the flexibility to readily accommodate new capability requirements and interfaces, capitalize on new technologies, and incorporate new data sources. Likewise, modern ECM solutions are flexible and easy to integrate with other systems able to adjust to fluctuating workflow requirements, handle changing content types and formats, and adjust to new case management methodologies and approaches. And vitally important is the ability to define, document, and orchestrate business process flows in conjunction with core systems and others. End User Implications There are also key user implications that should be considered as part of the business case. It is important to look at the amount of training that will be required for employees to become effective in their use of the new solutions, how that training will be accomplished, and who will do the training. Current processes need to be inspected, noting how processes could or should change and the implications of those changes. This investigation will help with determining the implementation approach and the sequence of steps to be addressed. Page 4

5 Implementation Options Insurers that are working to create a platform based on modern core and modern ECM solutions have three basic implementation approaches to consider, based on the order of implementation. Implementing core systems and ECM systems concurrently. These solutions might be integrated by the solution providers starting with the design phase, or existing solutions available in the marketplace may be pre-integrated by the providers. If there is no level of integration done in advance, it is more complicated to try and concurrently implement core and ECM solutions since many point to point integrations will have to be newly developed during the implementation process. Implementing core systems first, followed later by integration of new/upgraded ECM systems. In this scenario, the new core system(s) is initially loosely integrated with legacy ECM systems. When new or upgraded ECM solutions are installed, the integration can be tighter to result in a unified modern platform. Implementing modern ECM systems first, followed later with the implementation and integration of modern core systems. The new ECM systems may be initially loosely connected with legacy core systems. When the new core systems are implemented, the integration can be more complete and provide the unified modern platform that is the ultimate goal. There are no right or wrong choices since many factors are involved, but the integration and modernization projects of companies that have gone through the process provide some insights for those planning to upgrade core and ECM systems. Integration and Modernization Experience and Insights Achieving the ultimate unified environment requires a new level of integration one that is best done at the product design level with synchronized functions and features. But choosing the right approach will be highly dependent on each individual insurer s situation. Achieving the ultimate unified environment requires a new level of integration one that is best done at the product design level with synchronized functions and features. But choosing the right approach will be highly dependent on each individual insurer s situation. More important is understanding the implications of the various approaches, and the value of selecting ECM and core solutions that have been proven to work together well in the marketplace. However, two important conclusions can be drawn from studying the experiences of insurers. First, when feasible, the concurrent implementation approach is optimum. A synchronized modernization of the core and ECM solutions results in the lowest overall implementation effort. This means less time, less cost, and less disruption. When insurers are operating in an environment where both the core and ECM solutions are legacy systems, an especially strong case can be made for replacing and modernizing them at the same time. Recognizing that this is not possible for many insurers, the second option involves implementing systems in sequential order. It is essential to consider that, when the sequential approach is taken, the overall result is significantly improved if the ECM and core system(s) involved have already been proven to have the necessary capabilities to accommodate a tight integration with each other. Solutions that have been preintegrated are able to deliver more value. Page 5

6 The picture gets a bit more complex when insurers need to modernize all of the core solutions policy, billing, and claims. Even though some vendors offer an integrated suite, insurers still are faced with determining the implementation sequence that will work best for their particular situation and business needs. Industry experience indicates that the best approach for many insurers will be to implement one core system and integrate it with a modern ECM solution. Then, implement the second core system and integrate it with the new ECM solution, and subsequently implement the third core system and integrate it with the new ECM. This proves to be the most cost effective approach, largely because it delivers more of the flexibility and productivity benefits in a shorter time period. Other approaches, such as implementing all three core systems and then retrofitting and integrating the modern ECM solution into each of them later, take longer to implement. Consequently, it takes insurers longer to realize productivity benefits. For those insurers already operating with modern core systems, it is highly beneficial to replace legacy ECM solutions with modern solutions and then integrate them with modernized core systems. For those insurers already operating with modern core systems, it is highly beneficial to replace legacy ECM solutions with modern solutions and then integrate them with modernized core systems. There is significant value to be achieved in content management and delivery, workflow productivity, and more efficient and effective case management. Conversely, in situations where modern ECM solutions have already been implemented, insurers can benefit from implementing modern core systems and integrating them with the modern ECM solutions. With an integrated platform that is supported by solution providers, the vendors of the integrated solutions provide the support for upgrades. Hence, insurers don t need to devote internal resources to maintenance activities. For many insurers, this is an enormous benefit, especially considering that various systems require unique upgrades and fixes at different times using different skill sets. With integrated systems, the entire upgrade and change process is streamlined. New changes can be implemented much more quickly with integrated systems. Exploring Alternate Approaches There is no single right way to approach modernization and unification. An approach that fits one insurer perfectly might not be the best for another. Priorities and circumstances will influence how, what, and when. The following two case studies provide useful insights on the various approaches and lessons learned from core and ECM implementations. Transformation Plus One multi-state insurance company with a strong focus on the automobile insurance marketplace wanted the ability to offer new products and enter new markets quickly. In conjunction with new products, they were seeking to transform their claims environment to more efficiently and effectively leverage their claims professionals and handle new volumes of business. With their existing inflexible legacy systems, they found that getting a new product out or entering a new state was usually an ordeal that could last a year or more. That was not acceptable, given their goals and their desire to capitalize on market opportunities while they were ripe. Page 6

7 This insurer was ahead of the game, having first addressed core systems a number of years ago. The modernization of the core systems was of primary importance because they were looking to claims modernization as an opportunity to drive real transformation that extended beyond just improving efficiencies. With modern core systems in place, they then turned their attention to the integration of modern ECM solutions. The fact that both the core and ECM solution providers were already partners and were working diligently on the integration made the job easier. The results were better claims handling, an improved ability to manage claims resources, and the speed to market to introduce new products. With the experience gained from implementing and integrating new claims and ECM systems and the strong working relationship between the solution providers, the insurer has plans to modernize other core systems by unifying the transactions and the digital content. Modernizing Integration and More Speed to market was a strong incentive for change at a prominent Midwestern mutual insurer. This insurer wanted to be able to quickly roll out new products. But, with current inflexible systems, offering a new product, even a relatively simple property product, would require a year or more to get to market. This insurer had installed ECM and core solutions more than a decade ago and then built homegrown integrations to unify the systems. Maintaining these in-house capabilities was not only cumbersome, it was hamstringing progress. Once pre-integrated solutions became available from their existing solution providers, they made the move to those versions, using the integration elements provided with the solutions. Their future plan is to simultaneously implement upgrades for core and ECM as they become available. For this insurer, being able to shift the integration responsibility to solution providers enabled them to meet their speed-to-market objectives. Unified and modernized business capabilities have been a big plus, helping employees deliver improved service and make better decisions while performing their jobs in a natural way. And now that the solutions are more harmonized, the insurer looks forward to a smooth path to maintain and upgrade both core and ECM systems to provide ongoing improvements to their business users. Experience Highlights SMA research and discussions with many insurers show that there are many benefits for insurers that have a modern digital platform that unifies transactions, content, and workflows. These benefits affect multiple aspects and areas of the business. A modern digital platform eliminates the need to log into multiple systems. There is no more jumping back and forth between different windows and, in some cases, multiple display screens. It is no longer necessary to retrieve digital content that is needed to support business activities from multiple locations and systems such as , content repositories, and multiple databases. Integrated solutions provide a more stable environment and a more predictable support environment. Users are not aware that they are using multiple systems. Consequently, what these employees do to fulfill their responsibilities is highly aligned with their natural workflows. Productivity increases. Actions are more effective. Policyholders and claimants Page 7

8 receive faster and higher-quality service. Users like the fact that they have easy and immediate access to information. For example, claims professionals appreciate being able to easily retrieve documents while managing claims transactions. And, they find value in the new-found flexibility that enables them to look at information and documents that are related to groups of claims. Insurers are finding real advantages to providing insurance business users with unified systems that link relevant transaction and customer engagement information to support the natural work process. New flexibility coupled with informed interactions are delivering efficiencies and effectiveness that are really not possible with rigid, siloed systems that dictate how work must be done. Learning Points There is significant experience in our industry, and there are many lessons to be learned from the insurers that have implemented a modern digital platform that unifies transactions, content, and workflows. Some of the most important messages involve the efforts that should be made prior to the implementation. These are some nuggets of advice for insurers embarking on new initiatives to modernize ECM systems and integrate them with core: Spend ample time up front to analyze the types of documents that come into the company and are used during the acquisition, policy servicing, billing, and claims processing operations. Get users involved early and communicate with them constantly. Acquaint them with the terms and processes, and give them as much detail as possible. The more informed people are the more engaged they are. The value comes in two ways. These people have first-hand knowledge. They know how work gets done and how and when information is used. And, since these are the people who will use the solutions, their early buy-in is important. Involve mailroom staff and others that handle documents early in the process. Train them on how to properly classify documents. This will increase productivity and help achieve earlier efficiencies. Consider conducting test drives to give users familiarity with new functionality before going into a live operational environment. Think seriously about centralizing both the ingestion (input) and the distribution (output) of customer documents. Insurers are finding it to be a cost effective move that improves overall quality. In summary, insurers are finding real advantages to providing insurance business users with unified systems that link relevant transaction and customer engagement information to support the natural work process. New flexibility coupled with informed interactions are delivering efficiencies and effectiveness that are really not possible with rigid, siloed systems that dictate how work must be done. Page 8

9 SMA Call to Action The target is clear modern policy, billing, and claims core solutions tightly integrated with modern comprehensive ECM solutions. These must be able to adjust to fluctuating workflow requirements, handle changing content types and formats, and adapt to new case management methodologies and approaches. The pressure is on. It is a competitive imperative to help insurance professionals do their jobs better. The reasons are basic: improved productivity, increased effectiveness, and the delivery of a better customer experience. Insurers are demonstrating in the marketplace that even though the requirements can be complex, they are certainly within reach: capture and manage unstructured data digitally and then link it directly to policy, billing, or claims information; unify transactions, content, and workflows; and deliver customer excellence through informed interactions. Insurers should be thinking about how work gets done throughout their organization as well as with the partners that help them conduct business operations. This is the time to be planning for the unification of transactions, content, and workflows. Step back and take a hard look at the information that comes into the organization. Analyze how, when, and where it is used. Evaluate the quality of the resulting interactions and documents. Get the users involved in implementations in the early stages. The target is clear modern policy, billing, and claims core solutions that are tightly integrated with modern, comprehensive ECM solutions. These must be able to adjust to fluctuating workflow requirements, handle changing content types and formats, and adapt to new case management methodologies and approaches. Armed with insight about how work gets done in the organization and the possibilities for improvement, it will be easier to evaluate the alternatives and then determine what approach is best for the organization and situation. New solutions designed from the business user s perspective allow individuals to work in a more natural manner, automating more of their workload, presenting the right data and tasks at the right time, and offering new ways to improve their service to customers. Capitalizing on market opportunities by leveraging integrated, modern, flexible core and ECM solutions will provide competitive advantages and lead to greater profitability. About Strategy Meets Action Strategy Meets Action (SMA) is dedicated to helping the business of insurance modernize, optimize, and innovate for competitive advantage. Exclusively serving the insurance industry, SMA blends unbiased research findings with expertise and experience to deliver business and technology insights, research, and advice to insurers and IT solution providers. By leveraging best practices from both the management consulting and research advisory disciplines, we take a unique approach offering an unrivaled set of services, including retainers, research, consulting, events, and innovation offerings. This white paper is based on SMA s experience, research, and insights. Hyland Software has purchased the distribution rights to this research and white paper. This is not paidfor research. Additional information on SMA can be found at Mark Breading, SMA Partner, can be reached at or Follow Mark on Page 9

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