This August employee benefits provider Unum Group (Chattanooga, Tenn.; $51.9 billion in 2005 assets) rolled out Simply Unum, a new platform that the company has called one of the most significant product and service initiatives in its history.
The platform, designed specifically for small and midsized business owners, represents substantial changes in the technology and processes in place at Unum. Kathy Owen, senior vice president of business applications at Unum, notes that "it really covers the entire insurance value chain, all the way from quote and proposal to the payment of the claim."
Owen says Simply Unum is unique because it combines a very broad set of products under a single platform, giving customers more choice and increased simplicity at the same time. "How you bring the voluntary and employer-paid products together has really been one of the dilemmas in the [employee benefits] marketplace. So ... we've tried to bring something together that offers a more simplified process that enables that."
In the first phase of the rollout, which launched in August, Unum enabled four of its offices to begin quoting and selling products offered under the new platform. In November, a second wave will add the corresponding back-office administration pieces. In January, the platform will be rolled out to the rest of the marketplace.
In With the New
The new system will allow Unum to quote multiple products and create integrated proposals. Customers will have access to a single Web site and increased self-service capabilities. "It enables employers to view all their benefits from one point of view," Owen says.
Several new tools were implemented leading up to the launch of the new platform -- which is built around a service-oriented architecture -- including a workflow solution from Tibco, Microsoft Customer Care, Microsoft BizTalk and Exstream's Dialogue document management solution.
Regarding the buy-versus-build debate, Unum likes to buy when it's looking for capabilities that are fairly standard in the marketplace. "We look to vendors to provide the plumbing, so looking at a workflow tool would not be something we would choose to build," Owen explains. "Where we really do invest more of our time is around core business logic. That is an area where we think we have some unique knowledge."
Unum Group Examines Other Industries For Ideas For Simply Unum Product/Service Platform
When designing the Simply Unum platform, Unum Group looked outside the insurance industry for inspiration.