By Sean Baird, Director of ECM Product Marketing, Nuxeo
Insurance is an area within Financial Services (FS) that has approached digitalisation with more caution than others. Happy with the way they operate, comfortable with their market position and content to rest on their laurels, most insurers have continued to do business in the same ways in which they have always done.
But with InsurTech firms challenging incumbents with solutions that leverage digital technology and consumers using digital services almost every day in other areas of life, traditional insurers are waking up to the idea that they need to adapt, fast. Many consumers have grown to prefer digital experiences, which means that insurers are under greater pressure to modernise and embark on digital transformation than they have ever been.
Yet developing digital solutions is not without challenges. There are long development cycles, it can be costly and does not always meet requirements. This is the context that has seen low-code development tools thrive, providing a speedy way for businesses to deliver digital user experiences. Can low-code tools drive digitalisation in insurance?
There is a growing demand for digital services in insurance. Recent Nuxeo research with insurance customers showed that they are increasingly using digital services to manage their insurance policies, with 41% of all subscription requests made over the last 12 months having started via a digital channel.
The most popular online services adopted by policyholders were requests for insurance certificates and supporting documents. These were followed by monitoring of reimbursements, requests for quotes, reporting a claim, and sending photos in the event of a claim. But policyholders' expectations around digital services went even further.
The most anticipated improvements or new digital services cited in the research were all related to greater autonomy. These included the automatic analysis of photos and videos sent in the event of an accident, and the ability to make a report or claim directly from a mobile.
COVID-19 and digitalisation
The demand for digital services in insurance has been building for years, but COVID-19 has accelerated it. Insurers suddenly had to launch new content-based services to meet changing requirements and needed to do so quickly and there is now an enormous sense of increased urgency around digitalisation in insurance.
Businesses that continued to thrive during the pandemic were those whose critical processes were digital. This enabled those businesses to react quicker to moving to a distributed workforce, to adapt to vastly reduced onsite evaluations, to manage other ways of providing evidence for claims and provide on-demand, anywhere access to whatever information or content people needed. Not only that: these organisations were also better positioned to spin out new use cases for that content on the fly.
Many insurers found themselves facing challenges and volatility around the processing of insurance claims. Historically, gearing up for peak demand would have required advance warning, exceptional resourcing and staff training. On the other hand, those insurers that could quickly transition to a virtual workforce, giving them secure remote access to all the information they needed, would have been able to fulfil demand spontaneously.
Other insurers, finding themselves compromised in their ability to respond to the evolving market conditions, are likely to have lost out. Certainly, the importance of constructing new products or user/customer experiences quickly and efficiently will have been driven home hard.
The rise of low-code development tools
Low-code development tools enable companies to create and roll out new digital user experiences without having to engage in traditional development processes that were historically long, expensive and risky. When this approach is explicitly applied to content-based applications, insurers can create new content-based services at high speed, critical when meeting the immediate demand for such services.
Low-code tools make developers more efficient by reusing existing components and templates to speed up application delivery. It also lowers the skill requirement bar for other employees to develop applications, whether junior developers or business analysts.
The realisation that this low-code development approach can be applied specifically to content-based applications is attractive to insurers. In contrast, it might have taken months to create a new customer experience the traditional way. But development teams with access to a low-code development platform for delivering new content-based services can do so within just a few weeks.
Unlocking valuable business content
Once valuable business content has been unlocked, a world of new possibilities opens up for insurers. When that content is supported by an intelligent platform with a rich library of reusable software functions that companies can harness and build on to exploit information assets in new ways, the possibilities are even more remarkable.
Suppose a car insurance company wanted to roll out a new customer portal with the facility to allow claimants to upload photographic evidence directly from a mobile phone. With access to low-code tools, they could do so quickly and efficiently.
Customer demand for digital services in insurance is growing. Insurers that do not transition to digital services by embracing low-code development tools will only lose further market share to more digitally enabled competitors.