In June, we announced the winners of the 2023 Datos Insights Insurance Technology Impact Awards. Since then, I’ve been writing a blog series examining industry trends as seen through the lens of the 2023 Impact Awards’ 65 case studies, which catalogue technology projects that real insurers delivered to create real business success. Today, I’ll be diving into trends that surfaced this year in IT practice projects across the industry.
IT practice case studies create improvements at the organizational level. They include initiatives like centers of excellence, internal innovation groups, internship and recruiting programs, and new rollout or integration methodologies. These projects can create tremendous value, but it’s sometimes hard to measure, as it comes in the form of improved organization agility, better training and knowledge sharing, or effective recruiting pipelines.
IT Practice Projects Help Organizational Transformation Efforts Succeed
One clear trend from recent years is IT practice case studies that support transformational infrastructure investment with new processes and controls to promote uptake and engagement. That’s the case for three of this year’s featured projects, which align with a larger movement driving transformation across the industry. As you’ve probably already guessed—it’s insurers undertaking enterprise cloud migrations and supporting them with new IT practices to promote a “cloud-first” organizational strategy and ensure project success.
I mentioned last week in discussing core projects that cloud has become the environment of choice for most insurers. Even as cloud becomes more popular, best practices for legacy migrations are still being worked out across the industry. Challenges can include technical debt, poor legacy documentation, vast numbers of records to migrate, and new security and user access procedures. Adding to the complexity is that even as general principles for successful cloud migrations become clear, each insurer’s particular environment is different, so each will have its own unique challenges to navigate.
Projects like those of West Bend Mutual, Risk Administration Services, and winner AmeriTrust—all of which instituted new IT controls to manage their cloud migrations—show how crucial formal IT frameworks can be for enabling success. Mock migrations, clear communication, and close IT/business alignment are all crucial elements for the transformation itself. Ensuring a smooth transition likewise requires clear go-forward processes and workflows so that organizations know how to use their new tools effectively.
Enterprise Strategies Are IT Strategies
Cloud migrations are an especially clear example of a new insurance technology truism: Enterprise strategies are IT strategies.
Major strategic initiatives are whole-company efforts. In the 2020s, most new strategic directions are undergirded by technology: new capabilities that make it possible to model risk, do business, and serve customers in new ways. More and more, these initiatives need to be worked out with IT, not articulated separately and then thrown over the wall as a list of requirements or demands. In an effective insurer strategy conversation, IT has a crucial role of guiding business leaders by identifying technological opportunities and pointing out what’s possible and how it can be achieved.
Midsize property/casualty winner Celina’s case study makes this clear. The company wanted to establish an enterprise focus on customer experience, taking an “outside-in” approach to interrogate user interactions and workflows. But this effort was intimately tied to IT, since technology is the first point of contact for almost all customer interactions, from apps to websites to IVR. Celina found that even small tweaks in UX (e.g., the phrasing on a single field on an FNOL form) could have a major impact on customer satisfaction. These changes are ultimately implemented by IT, so it makes sense that IT has a seat at the table to better guide what tweaks can be made and what easy changes might bring strong results.
IT Practices Drive IT Strategy Success
The Impact Awards program as a whole is designed to spotlight the business impact that effective insurer IT organizations can create. While measuring the value of IT practice projects can be a challenge (how do you put a number on “everything is easier now?”), they exemplify the new paradigm for technology in insurance: Everything is digital, everything is data, everything is core, everything is technology and the business capabilities it creates. And for effective IT units to function, clear processes, procedures, and practices are a must. To check out all six IT practice case studies, read Insurance Technology Impact Awards Case Study Compendium 2023: IT Practice Initiatives. Interested to see what’s happening in the world of data, digital, and IT practices? Find information about all of this year’s Insurance Impact Awards winners here.