Collaboration in the Insurance Industry

We’ve had a number of recent engagements looking at the future of collaboration in the insurance sector, specifically P&C and Life. What we mean by “collaboration” is primarily electronic document sharing (native electronic files, as well as images)—in other words, the kinds of documents that are typically being sent via email or fax. Now, many of our clients are looking to put in place a more structured and secure process.

One of the challenges, though, is the broad spectrum of different use cases. So our first question to the client is typically: “What sort of collaboration are you focused on?”

The following figure lists out just some of the potential collaboration scenarios:

But we find it usually starts with collaboration to help make the agents more productive (and thus writing more business), or with improving the customer experience (to improve retention). But even these two scenarios are very different. So our first recommendation is to get very specific about what outcomes the insurance firm is trying to address, and then to stay myopically focused on them (so resources and energies don’t get diluted).

Next, we suggest defining the scope of activities the client is trying to improve. Some want to eliminate the receipt of documents via fax because the quality is so poor and leads to lots of back-office rework. Other clients present desires that are much more sophisticated—enablement of a mobile application for origination, for instance. In either case, there are typically are a number of enabling capabilities that are:

  1. Must-haves;
  2. Nice- to-haves; or
  3. Future desires (i.e. sometime down the road).

Mapping these capabilities onto a multi-year roadmap is critical, as there will likely be some funding constraints which will force prioritization. Another helpful exercise is to review the anticipated capabilities through different lenses: Which will have the greatest impact on agent productivity? Which are likely to improve satisfaction?

Whatever the firm chooses to focus on, there’s a broad range of solution providers whose products offer very robust capacities to fulfill the client’s vision for collaboration. The challenge, most often, isn’t the enabling technology, but the administration and governance of its use. Just like email, for example, the organization must publish acceptable guidelines for use of the tool it’s chosen to deploy. In addition, administrators or “super-users” need to be assigned responsibility for spinning up collaborative sites, as well as decommissioning them when necessary (a big problem).

Overall, as these collaborative systems grow and user acceptance increases, the long-term “care and feeding” becomes the biggest challenge. This is why we recommend putting in place a solid support team at the outset, as well as budgeting for this kind of maintenance and oversight into the system’s future.

Rich Medina
James Watson
I’m President and co-founder of Doculabs, serving as executive sponsor on consulting engagements for financial services clients.