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Beyond the legacy: 3 tips for modernizing your insurance organization’s tech stack

Article by Andrew Wong, Managing Director, Appnovation

As customer expectations evolve so, too, is technology—and the insurance industry is not immune. Today, policyholders are demanding more from their insurance providers—including cutting-edge products, better digital experiences, and stellar customer service.

To give customers what they want—and be able to adapt swiftly when those demands change—established insurance companies must invest in the right digital tools and capabilities. This is unquestionably challenging for large, global organizations whose modernization efforts are hindered by decades-old legacy technology.

Moving forward by simply replacing their existing systems in one fell swoop is not possible for these organizations. In most cases, this old technology is deeply ingrained into organizational DNA. Rather, they’re going to need to take a less-jarring, incremental approach – gradually transitioning from the customer experience(CX) of the past to one fit for the future.

To make this process easier, and improve the chances of success, it can be helpful to focus on three key areas: the shared service model, design systems, and your organizational mindset.

Out with the old, in with the new (Shared Service Model)

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Andrew Wong, Managing Director, Appnovation

For decades, global insurance companies have relied on some form of decentralized organizational structure to facilitate agile decision-making. This organizational model can be broken down by group, country, and market—or even segregated further by products, services, and business units. Each of these segments operates somewhat independently—and, from a CX perspective, is typically responsible for its own customer experiences, digital designs, and technological governance.

While this works in some ways, this setup also comes with various drawbacks. For one, because these subsets are operating in silos, there are often design inconsistencies across the board, leading to varying experiences. Additionally, this model typically hinders digital innovation and scalability—because teams are often required to “reinvent the wheel” every time a new application is needed, and there are few opportunities to share designs across the company.

One way to overcome these obstacles, while simultaneously transitioning into the future, is to explore a tailored Shared Services Model. This allows companies to retain many of the benefits of decentralization—such as decision-efficacy and efficiency—while centralizing select technological services like strategy and maintenance with the goal of empowering employees and creating a more consistent digital and brand experience across products and regions.

Embrace design systems, one step at a time

Most global insurance organizations are built on legacy tools and systems that have been around for decades—and, as a result, are widely used by countless product groups and regions across the globe. While they may be imperfect, people understand them—and they know how the system works.

At the same time, legacy tools and systems don’t account for design or CX consistency. Therefore, creating, maintaining, and updating designs takes a significant amount of time – which teams don’t always have. Also, because the tools were designed for a decentralized organizational model, it can be difficult for local teams to align the needs of their end-user with the organization’s brand guidelines.

Slowly adopting a Global Design System is one way to wean the organization off disjointed design or experiences. This tool essentially transforms an organization’s brand guidelines into atomical digital components. While the design of these components is centralized, they are available to individual teams across products and regions. Each team can apply these atomic components using the tech developed by the Shared Services Model to build things like landing pages and apps that meet the unique language needs and preferences of their particular customers while helping create a more cohesive CX. Plus, teams no longer need to reinvent the wheel every time.

By starting small—and rolling GDS out slowly, one region or product at a time—you can make improvements as you go along, and help the organization slowly but surely adjust to a more modernized digital reality.

Changing mindsets in insurance tech

A technological transition is never just about the technology—it’s also about the people using that technology. Ideally, you want your tech investment to empower your people—and make their jobs better in some way, so they’re motivated to use it.

Understanding this, it’s important to recognize that modernizing your tech stack will be a huge change for many of your employees—a change they may be inclined to resist unless you approach it proactively. This means involving employees from the outset, addressing potential objects, prioritizing continuous improvement, and rolling out changes in an organized fashion, so as to give employees time to adjust.

When you put people at the heart of your technological transformation, you can rest easy knowing it’s designed with their needs in mind—and, therefore, will be more likely to benefit your organization for years to come.

Modernizing legacy tech infrastructure is never easy. That said, by taking an incremental approach—and focusing efforts on modernizing the shared service model, design systems, and organizational mindsets—insurance companies can make the transition go substantially smoother.

The views in this article is that of the author and may not reflect the views of Tech Wire Asia.