What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
Chuck Gomez and Kent Black | September 27, 2018
Insurers are striving to deliver the type of experience agents, brokers, and consumers expect thanks to industries like banking and retail. This experience includes real-time, on-demand access to transactional capabilities, important documents, and communication functions. Insurers are starting to select, implement, and support digital experience platforms to meet these needs rather than traditional agent and consumer portals.
Many digital experience platforms (DXPs), such as those offered by Sitecore and Liferay, are marketed as horizontal solutions that insurers can use to build, design, and implement personalized user interfaces that are decoupled from and integrated with back-end core systems. These provide more functionality and opportunity for configuration than agent and consumer portals of the past, and a growing number of vertical vendors in the insurance space (DXC, ValueMomentum) have rearchitected their portal offerings from the ground up to be cloud-based DXPs.
There are myriad reasons insurer CIOs are turning toward DXPs. CIOs are responsible for supporting corporate-wide applications that include their organizations’ digital assets such as Web content and broker portals. In some cases, marketing teams might be seeking to initiate rebranding efforts, emphasizing personalization and customer insights. In others, executive suites might be requesting that IT leverage technology investments across the enterprise. CIOs in this position have to choose between building their own solution via traditional application development tools or relying on a third-party, cloud-based digital solution. While custom development might be the best option for some carriers, many are likely to turn to a DXP with a modern, cloud-based architecture to meet the needs of all parties—such as the marketing and business teams—invested in the platform.
A handful of DXPs have mature architecture with strong APIs that leverage the RESTful framework for interacting with internal and external ties, with social media ties, and with the ability to provide insightful user data to all teams. Having a cloud-based digital platform with strong API capabilities can also enable insurers to introduce microservices architecture, providing more solution options than may reside in an insurer’s own data centers.
In addition, implementing a truly cloud-based solution allows carriers to think strategically about how they are incorporating AI, machine language, predictive analytics, and other emerging technologies into their digital experience for users. When leveraged properly, these platforms eliminate the need to invest in other technology separately and fulfill requests coming from the executive suite.
Choosing to use a third-party, cloud-based solution doesn’t free carriers from all tech responsibility, however. To connect a DXP to back-end core systems, CIOs should determine whether their core content and Web presence are built on a framework that can be integrated directly. Using an SOA-based framework can help integrate a more modern DXP to older core systems.
Even after integrating new systems with old systems, CIOs will need to consider how to provide appropriate user interfaces (UI). Does this mean using the platform’s original UI? Maybe. It might also entail building out new UIs for internal users, such as for underwriting or claims adjusters. For external visitors like website browsers, brokers, and policyholders, it probably makes more sense to rely on the UI of the DXP.
Further down the road, UIs for internal users can be built out as a headless integration. In a way, selecting a modern DXP and integrating as skinny clients with back-end core systems amounts to separating UI from core. Many insurance CIOs have recently prioritized keeping ownership of UIs separate from core systems — separating the presentation layer from the core code base. Owning the presentation layer can provide more flexibility and a differentiating user experience.
As more insurers work on the user experience they provide to policyholders, brokers, and internal users alike, digital experience platforms will become the new norm. Keeping these aspects in mind will simplify the decision-making and implementation process for insurer CIOs.
Chuck Gomez is a Vice President of Research and Consulting at Novarica. He has over 28 years of insurance technology experience in senior roles at insurers, reinsurers, brokers, consulting firms, and software companies. His expertise spans strategic planning, transformational program management, technology assessment, cloud strategy, legacy migration, and setup of de novo operations. Prior to joining Novarica, he held senior technology leadership roles at Guy Carpenter, Integro Insurance Brokers, and Arch Insurance Group; he has also held roles at AIG, Liberty Mutual, EY, and AgencyPort. Chuck holds a BS in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of California at Berkeley. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent Black is the CIO – Enterprise Applications for Tokio Marine HCC, a leading specialty insurance company transacting business in approximately 180 countries and underwriting more than 100 classes of specialty insurance. With responsibilities in delivery of back office and policy administration systems, Kent is also responsible for driving the Digital strategy and overall eCommerce presence from a corporate technology perspective. He has over 25 years of senior leadership roles in technology, insurance, and healthcare industries leading transformation efforts. Kent holds a BS in Computer Science from Texas A&M University.
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