How can low-code development tools power insurance digitalisation? Sean Baird, Director of ECM Product Marketing, Nuxeo, tells us more.
Few would dispute that the Financial Services (FS) sector that has approached digitalisation with varying degrees of enthusiasm. There is no shortage of FinTech companies that have emerged to meet changing customer expectations with wholly digital propositions. Many traditional FS firms have also adapted certain products and services to become more digital.
Yet there are other elements of FS that have been much slower to embrace digitalisation, insurance being a particularly pertinent example. Insurance has always been a conservative industry that has operated in mostly the same ways for many years, and any moves towards digital have been gradual at best. This is changing though. Consumers use and enjoy digital services in almost every other facet of their lives, from shopping to booking holidays and scheduling medical appointments to socialising. They are increasingly demanding the seamless customer experience they find in these other parts of their lives when interacting with their insurance providers.
Digitalisation is key to such a customer experience. Recent Nuxeo research showed that European insurance customers are increasingly comfortable with digital interactions and even want to use digital channels more. Many consumers have grown to prefer digital experiences, which means that insurers are under greater pressure to modernise and embark on digital transformation than they have ever been. What is the best way for insurers to approach the digitalisation of their services and deliver the customer experience that modern insurance users crave?
Digital = speed and convenience
For many years now, most consumers have used Amazon and other services that offer a first-class digital experience, and they have come to expect this in other areas of life. This certainly applies to insurance. The recent Nuxeo research showed that insurance customers are increasingly using digital services to manage their insurance policies, with 41% of all subscription requests made over the last 12 months having started via a digital channel. The most popular online services adopted by policyholders were requests for insurance certificates and supporting documents. These were followed by monitoring of reimbursements, requests for quotes, reporting a claim, and sending photos in the event of a claim. But policyholders’ expectations around digital services went even further.
The most anticipated improvements or new digital services cited in the research were all related to greater autonomy. These included the automatic analysis of photos and videos sent in the event of an accident, and the ability to make a report or claim directly from a mobile. The use of digital services in insurance is a trend that has been building steadily for years, but COVID19 has undoubtedly accelerated it. With very different market conditions brought about by successive lockdowns and subsequent easing, insurers were forced to launch new content-based services to meet changing requirements and needed to do so as soon as possible. What’s more, they had to do so while working remotely, so the insurers that had already focused on this element of digitalisation were at an advantage.
COVID-19 and ‘trapped content’
The sense of increased urgency around transformation is now palpable. Previously, companies looked at the content digitisation challenge as a means of continuous business differentiation. How could they pivot activities to respond to new opportunities and keep ahead of competitors and market disruptors with new and exciting propositions? During lockdown, manoeuvrability became a matter of survival. If different parties could not access the information or digital assets they needed on-demand to accomplish routine or new tasks, then an insurer’s ability to respond to changing requirements and situations was compromised, and the customer experience damaged.
The most notable point of difference for the businesses that have continued to thrive during the pandemic was that a vast majority of their critical processes were digital – supported by on-demand, anywhere access to whatever information or content people needed. Not only that: these
organisations were also better positioned to spin out new use cases for that content on the fly. So, while the pandemic was putting pressure on many companies’ ability to function even at a basic level, others were able to turn the unprecedented market conditions to their advantage.
Many insurers found themselves facing challenges and volatility around the processing of insurance claims. Historically, gearing up for peak demand would have required advance warning, exceptional resourcing and staff training. On the other hand, those insurers that could quickly transition to a virtual workforce, giving them secure remote access to all the information they needed, would have been able to fulfil demand spontaneously. Other insurers, finding themselves compromised in their ability to respond to the evolving market conditions, are likely to have lost out. Certainly, the importance of being able to construct new products or user/customer experiences quickly and relatively effortlessly will have been driven home hard.
Low-code development tools and digitalisation
This has all helped accelerate the rise of low-code development, especially in the context of contentcentric business applications. Low-code enables companies to create and roll out new digital user experiences without having to engage in long development projects. When this approach is explicitly applied to content-based applications, insurers can create new content-based services at high speed, critical when meeting the immediate demand for such services.
The idea is to make developers more efficient by reusing existing components and templates to speed up application delivery, drawing on vast libraries of proven constituent software assets. Lowcode also lowers the skill requirement bar for other employees to develop applications, such as more junior developers or even business analysts. It allows IT teams to make smarter and more efficient use of their time and skills, maximising the value of the content they hold and accelerating new functionality delivery. The realisation that this low-code development approach can be applied specifically to contentbased applications is particularly exciting. It paves the way for insurers to create new content-based services at high speed. Whereas it might have taken up to 12 months to create a new customer experience the traditional way, development teams with access to a low-code development platform for delivering new content-based services can do so within just a few weeks.
The emergence of process automation
Once valuable business content has been unlocked, a world of new possibilities opens up for insurers. When that content is supported by a smart platform with a rich library of reusable software functions that companies can harness and build on to exploit information assets in new ways, the
possibilities are even greater. Suppose a car insurance company wanted to roll out a new customer portal with the facility to allow claimants to upload photographic evidence directly from a mobile phone. With access to low-code tools, they could do so quickly and efficiently. The company could even add artificial intelligence capabilities that automatically extract critical data from those photos, such as the registration numbers of vehicles involved in an incident or the claimant’s particulars from their driver’s licence.
Such services are not just about improving the customer experience via digitalisation by making it easier and more convenient to submit claims information and accelerate processing. They also pave the way for process automation, driving new operational efficiency for insurers. Looking once more at car insurance, if an intelligent image-reading feature is introduced to extract detail about damage to the front-left fender of a particular make and model of Mini, triggering automatic lookup of comparable claims and repair estimates, this could help expedite the settling of claims.
Low-code tooling means that insurers with innovative new ideas can pivot more quickly and take advantage of these capabilities more readily. It is the unique combination of core content management functionality and a low-code app development environment that makes this digitalisation possible: this is what enables new agility and responsiveness to customer needs. Customer demand for digital services in insurance has been accelerated by COVID-19 and is only going to increase. Insurers can transition to digital services by embracing low-code development
tools, allowing them to launch content-based services at much greater speed. Failure to do so will only see them lose ground to more digitally enabled competitors.