Technology evolves incrementally on multiple fronts, in the insurance industry as others. Progress may have been slower in the insurance industry, as observers never cease to point out, but 2010 seems to have been a kind of watershed. It's not as if something happened all at once but rather various technologies — such as configurable core insurance systems and analytics — had reached the point where their viability had been clearly demonstrated, and others — mobile computing and social media — were adopted by a critical mass of consumers, forcing the insurance industry to adopt quickly. These developments have set the stage for conceiving the next-generation insurance technology environment and the components that exemplify it, and SMA has issued a brief that nicely condenses what insurers need to consider.
The SMA brief outlines five technology "watch points" for insurers to monitor and factor into their planning, along with five corresponding calls to action. For example, author Deb Smallwood identifies Cloud/SaaS maturation" as one of the watch points:
Some of the confusion in the marketplace about the differences between hosted solutions, SaaS, ASP (application service provider) model offerings, and cloud computing is caused by vendors that mislabel what they are really offering. In spite of any deficiency in clarity, the reality is that there are many new options available to reduce costs, reduce risk, and increase both systems capacity and capability.
The brief also touches on analytics, mobile, social media and what the author calls an application "development revolution." As Smallwood stresses, not every insurer will need to take advantage each of the five technology areas, but many will, and all will need to get up to speed with some.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio