Insurers need to segregate the core applications and technologies that support their business models from the non-core utility applications and technologies typically required to support the operation of the business but not necessary to enhance the performance of the business. At Harleysville, we take this approach in order to most effectively position our resources and investments to drive innovation and differentiation.
For these non-core utility applications, software as a service (SaaS) has become a compelling alternative. SaaS allows an enterprise to conduct vital business functions without the concern for the support, upgrades and personnel associated with non-core functions. Rather, much like the utilities we use in our homes, the insurer simply can count on the fact that they work, they're maintained and service is available when needed. But insurers should not stop there.
Beyond SaaS are the emerging "platform/infrastructure as a service" (PaaS/IaaS) models, which provide the technologies and platforms required for running the business operations and building and running custom Web applications. The significance of these models is that they eliminate the need to acquire the expensive and underutilized infrastructure components that are necessary to build, test and operate business applications. This means that desktop support, servers, databases, security and application framework build outs are no longer needed within the enterprise. Rather, they are available over the Web, and consumers pay only for what they consume -- nothing more.
Leveraging these models undoubtedly makes the need for standards in the enterprise essential. Imagine if none of the appliances you bought had standard plugs and adapters. How useful would it be when you got one home and tried to hook it up with the utilities in your home?