The Insurance Network – a strategy and benchmarking forum for directors from the UK insurance sector – recently held a virtual TINtech event at which Victoria Mills, Senior Manager, Solutions Consulting, Duck Creek Technologies participated in a panel discussion with Tim Yorke, Chief Operating Officer, Commercial, AXA and Natasha O’Kane, Head of Digital Transformation, Unum UK exploring the issue of “Transforming Legacy Technology.”
To open the session up, attendees at the event were polled live about whether they are planning core system transformation projects in the next one to two years, with “yes, underway” and “we’re still in the planning” the top responses.
Tim Yorke opened the discussion by commenting that “when you get into legacy, if you start by thinking of this as an IT project, you’re likely to quickly get into difficulty. The first step is to clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve and which of your strategic goals are hindered by your existing platforms. Taking a business through a process of understanding how this will transform their business model and bottom line is critical. Step two is having a clear and agile data strategy and step three is culture and ways of working.”
Natasha O’Kane commented: “Start at the customer end, not the technology end – that’s the key to understanding the why of what you are doing. It’s often the case that someone will come to you with something that is already ‘solutionised’ which then has to be taken right back to understand what we are doing and why – and driving it back to the business case. Otherwise you could end up spending millions that might not get that return on investment.”
Victoria Mills added: “Innovation and technology can sometimes be viewed as a shiny new thing without thinking through the what and the why – whether that be through a customer, data or an efficiency lens for example – and then looking at the right technology to enable that rather than looking to innovate for the sake of it and getting paralysed by the amount of choice.
“There is a sweet spot between being too myopic, putting in patches and being tactical, and the 10-year strategic plan that is then out-of-date five years later. There is a happy medium somewhere in between, in terms of what is quick that can achieve your aims in the short-term and not being blind to future-proofing that so it continues to be relevant and provide value over the medium-term.”
In response to a further live poll question looking at prioritisation of technology change initiatives within organisations, Victoria Mills commented: “When we speak to our prospective clients and current customers, what we help them to realise is that modern low-code systems enable them to achieve all of their goals in parallel. You can build products quickly so you achieve that agility; you can design those compelling front-end purchasing and claims experiences so there are tangible customer experience improvements; and you can use configuration to extend the core system in a way that will not accumulate technical debt and you are, therefore, achieving efficiencies.
“What we are seeing recently is more of a focus on superior data security, quality and transparency as well as operational resilience – and being able to clearly evidence and prove these to regulators are all key drivers behind transformation as well at the moment. That is what we are hearing back from the market – so it is not just those front-end experiences and operational efficiencies, it’s also about the quality of data and the ability to be able to turn that into valuable analytics for example.”
In advance of the panel discussion, a short pre-event survey asked respondents to identify some of the key challenges when looking at the issue of transforming legacy technology. A summary of the responses is highlighted below:
- Ranking your current technology priorities – 36% of respondents said Leveraging data within the business was their top priority with 24% of respondents citing Modernising multiple legacy systems and software.
- What is your biggest driver for digital transformation? Increasing operational agility was the top answer at 36% with Improving the customer experience coming in at 32%.
- In terms of urgency and importance, which of these challenges keeps you awake at night? 28% of respondents cited Data quality / accessibility as their top response with 24% calling out Changing mind-sets and culture
- Where is the main focus for innovation within your organisation? Designing and launching new products (quickly) was the top response at 29% with Gaining better customer insights through data coming in at 25%.
Commenting on the pre-event survey results, Victoria Mills said: “There was one response in the comments section of the pre-event survey that particularly resonated with me where the respondent said, ‘We have a wealth of data but not the infrastructure to handle, process or digest it – pulling that data from our various sources and then smoothing the workload via automation is the dream’. I really like that comment and using a model core system with those data insights is an achievable dream – and the ability to achieve all of those gains in parallel is extremely exciting.”
A full recording of this excellent and thought-provoking panel discussion can be found here.