Speed to market means different things to different insurers. However, distribution channel pressures and emerging consumer demands for mass customization and hybrid products are moving rapid product development from being a competitive advantage to a necessity. Streamlining product development processes, building "product chassis" of common components, adopting agile enabling technologies, and modifying organizational structure to support product innovation all are ways to improve speed to market.
Product development solutions, built specifically for the insurance industry, can increase an insurer's business agility, enabling it to refresh products in days and implement new products in weeks -- and do it concurrently. Product configurators, a key component of these solutions, allow insurers to externalize all product data and rules from multiple, hard-coded operational systems into a central repository, where product chassis can be created, stored and easily configured into new or modified offerings. These product chassis can be leveraged across the enterprise, even globally, and product changes, such as adding new coverage parts, can be made quickly to meet consumer and distributor demands. These solutions also automate workflow surrounding product development to create efficiencies, allow easier reporting on product performance and enhance collaboration.
As critical as technology is to accelerating insurance product development, it will not guarantee success. Insurers must take a holistic approach to their product development strategy. That approach must include a shift in attitude that elevates product from being a contract to a competitive weapon, and an organizational structure that removes cross-departmental bottlenecks and creates a centralized department accountable for product performance.
Van Beach, Tillinghast/Towers Perrin
Achieving speed to market is one way companies are leveraging their improved product development processes for competitive advantage, but speed is only one dimension of that process.
Michael Dippolito, Nationwide
Early discussions about product development with IT can help shape the possible solution and steer clear from complex, expensive efforts down the road.
Bob Reynolds, Minnesota Life Insurance Co.
Addressing product development challenges involves a three-pronged approach focused on people, process and technology.