Everybody thinks they know what Software-as-a-Service is all about. But ask five software professionals, and you may get five different answers. With that in mind, I thought I’d address a few of the more common questions, concerns, and opportunities I get from customers and prospects.
Insurance carriers first want to know the technology differences between our OnDemand (cloud-based) and on-premises products. At a glance, and from the end user’s perspective, they are very similar. However, SaaS technology generally, and Duck Creek OnDemand specifically, is intended to be a holistic technology offering. OnDemand gives carriers regular and immediate access to Duck Creek’s latest product upgrades, keeping their businesses current with features and functionality while eliminating the challenges of maintaining server infrastructure, hosting, security, and application upgrade efforts.
Typically, insurance carriers’ objections to SaaS stem from concerns related to potentially outdated due diligence on cloud providers, and are relative to their comfort levels with their own data centers – a known entity for compliance and security. Completely understandable. What is remarkable is the degree of investment and change that has occurred over the past two to three years by cloud providers to address enterprise concerns, especially security and scale. When they sit down with our partners, like Microsoft’s Azure team, Duck Creek customers and prospects come away with a highly confident view of hyper-scale cloud and our OnDemand model. Many, if not most, tell us that we offer greater security than what they already have. We have never had anybody come back to us and say, “You’re not ready.” Unilaterally, it’s been the opposite.
Value vs. Pricing for SaaS Models
These conversations typically move to pricing very quickly, and SaaS models generally tend to be less expensive than conventional licensing models. Rather than paying outright for hardware, software, implementation and integrations, SaaS models are more akin to a lease, appealing to financial people for whom the phrase “never buy depreciating assets” is a kind of mantra. Duck Creek OnDemand is no different, in that it provides carriers with a business solution that is ready to run and priced based on usage. What’s more, there are many different starting points carriers can select in the migration of their core system. Like ordering à la carte, insurers can select a full-suite solution but roll out only to a subset of their business. This allows for a test-and-learn process while the business adapts and scales by adding locations and / or lines of business.
Our customers get it. Insurance execs who have selected OnDemand recognize that they are leveraging a technology that provides speed to market both upfront and on an ongoing basis.
For those eager to move off their current system… we understand. You have sunk costs in your data centers and core systems, and need to proceed in such a way as to effectively manage change, all while refocusing technology resources to improve data-driven decision-making and customer experience as well as streamlining business processes.
Customer Experience and the SaaS Model
The biggest surprises for those insurers who have made the switch are just how up to date SaaS systems are, and what a big difference that can make. Consider this: in many cases, we have found that the systems being targeted for replacement have not been updated for many years. Contrast that with our OnDemand customers, who receive continuous updates, both major and minor, starting the moment they subscribe. This could translate to as many as a dozen or more updates a year. The result is a dramatic change in the expectations of the innovation cycle time. It quickly becomes “the new normal.”
This speed, combined with higher service levels, resets baseline expectations across all suppliers. In short, opportunities to innovate increase, not just because of the software’s capabilities, but because of the pace of change. Our clients and end users are more energized, engaged, and actively benefiting from that engagement, as are their insureds. That agility translates into higher retention and satisfaction levels.
Lastly, when our customers combine frequent updates with the ability to scale for business demands of all sizes, it allows them the flexibility to grow their business proportionally to the costs of running that business. Duck Creek OnDemand leverages that elasticity to benefit insurers of all sizes. Our ready-to-run solution, inclusive of mobile and self-service experiences, electronic rating content, and our partner ecosystem, all scales technically and commercially.
That’s a positive customer experience.
Duck Creek Technologies is the only insurance platform provider that offers a full-featured end-to-end core systems solution, which, together with our OnDemand partner ecosystem, is designed to help your company become more competitive. When the core competency of hosting a platform and owning all of the maintenance associated with that stack moves out of your shop, your IT staff is freed up to work on business-focused projects, customer experience, and innovation.
Bill Bond, Chief Technology Officer