Targeted innovation that resonates with all target audiences

Insurers who are able to innovate when it comes to the design and delivery of products and services will not only be fostering greater loyalty amongst their consumers, but they will also be helping to change the perception that the insurance industry is still playing catch up.

“African insurers have a great opportunity to improve business models and solutions in order to improve their experience and increase customer satisfaction,” says Clinton Brown, SSP Business Development Manager. “A recent Celent survey on innovation showed that consumers expect a high degree of innovation from their financial service providers, especially when it comes to service delivery. However, while most financial services professionals agree that innovation is essential for relating and engaging with customers, only a minority identify innovation as a critical part of their companies’ strategies.”

This is particularly true for “digital” consumers who are active in managing their finances and expect their insurers to be innovative. These consumers reported that they used technology-driven tools such as GPS location, online purchasing, mobile and video streaming, etc. Conversely, consumers who were less digitally inclined reported that they used three or fewer of these technologies.

“Innovation will be most widely accepted and celebrated amongst your early digital adopters consumers, so focussing technological improvements on this target group will have the highest probability of success,” Brown explains. “However, even within the digital consumers, enthusiasm for these initiatives varied by age group, suggesting that a broader; more experimental approach might most successfully resonate across the entire customer base.”

When it comes to appealing to the less digitised consumers, innovations should be positioned as simple, non-technical solutions to everyday problems. “Invest some resources in surveying and polling this customer base to find out what these solutions could be,” advises Brown. “Simply by starting these conversations, you begin to raise this target group’s awareness of the value of innovation.”

Administration service areas such as claims, online and mobile services, represent the most immediate innovation opportunities. Sales and product innovations will appeal to certain consumers, but for broad consumer resonance the clear focus should be service. Brown cautions that innovation around products and new ways of doing business will require more buy-in from the consumer, especially if it requires a change of behaviour and necessitates the consumer giving up their personal data in exchange for the benefit.

The expectation to innovate is forcing insurers to question how they relate and engage with their customers and in a landscape where more and more consumers are becoming digitised, they are also becoming more aggressive in their demands for improved services. Insurers that illustrate progress in this area will win and keep their customer’s loyalty.

Reduce risks and improve pricing with data enrichment

With more data available from more and more sources, it is critical insurers have a data strategy in place to gain a clear view of the risks and opportunities they face. Findings of a new white paper by SSP, a leading global provider of insurance technology solutions, shine a light on the wealth of knowledge available to insurers to deliver greater insight on individuals and businesses. Read more

SSP investment drives customer functionality upgrades

With the insurance and technology landscape constantly evolving, SSP, a leading global provider of insurance software solutions, has invested $7.2m (£4.8m) in releases and upgrades for its Pure Insurance product. In the last year alone, this continued investment has enabled eight long-term SSP customers to access a new set of functionality that is keeping them competitive in the marketplace. Read more

SSP pursue expansion strategy with new investment deal

SSP, a market-leading global technology systems and solution provider, has successfully completed a management buyout backed by LDC and led by Chief Executive and founding Director, Laurence Walker.

Founded over 30 years ago, SSP provides market leading technology systems and solutions across the entire general insurance industry value chain and the wider financial services market, enabling customers to upgrade their systems and benefit from SSP’s advanced data analytics services to improve their customer service, distribution and profitability.

SSP operates globally, processing more than 10 million electronic policy transactions each year for a diverse, long-standing customer base including 8 of the top 10 UK Insurers and Broker operations that equate to more than 40% share of the UK Broker market. LDC, which has taken a majority equity stake in the business, is a well-established private equity firm with a leading position in the mid-market sector.

The existing management team, which brings a combination of industry and specialist expertise, will work with the new equity partners.

The investment will support the management team and create the platform to accelerate the growth of SSP in the UK and internationally, building on its strong customer base and introducing intelligent data services, including telematics and fraud detection, to the market to help insurance organisations better assess risks.

Laurence Walker, Chief Executive at SSP, said “LDC’s investment is a strong endorsement of the attractiveness of SSP and the strength of the business. LDC will help us pursue our growth strategy, both organically and through M&A activity, and our customers will see the benefits of our continuing investment in SSP. Having worked previously with them I am looking forward to working with the LDC team again. It creates a great platform for further expansion of our business, in line with our business plans.”

Dale Alderson, Investment Director at LDC, said: “The global insurance industry is under increasing pressure to modernise its use of data to become more efficient, cut down costs, expand distribution and secure more accurate risk analysis. SSP is at the forefront of this market, and with our support, will help transform the way that insurers operate and dramatically improve customer experience.”

John Garner, Director at LDC, said: “Over the last decade, SSP has evolved into a truly global leader that has capitalised on the ever-increasing technological demands of the insurance industry, as well as the financial services sector. Laurence leads a highly ambitious team that is eager to build on the success of its international network. We are excited to back the business once again and support it through another era of growth.”

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Achieving digital success: What insurers need to consider

Whether you are reading this on your PC, tablet, smartphone or on paper, as a savvy insurance professional you don’t need anyone to tell you that the world is becoming more digital. More and more of what we do as members of society, consumers and business people is enabled – and in some cases challenged – by the vast flood of data and the changes in all manner of interactions that are part of everyday life.

We’re all aware of the pace of change, so we’re no longer surprised by findings like those from PwC’s recent research, which showed that around 70% of consumers carried out some form of digital research before buying insurance and over a quarter bought their policies online. Customers are better informed and more connected every day, and their service expectations are ever more demanding and sophisticated.

“The practical challenge for insurers and brokers is to work out what all this change means for their customers and their businesses,” says Rhys Collins, Head of African Operations for SSP. He says they need to work out how best to align their strategic strengths with opportunities in the marketplace and question where they should innovate and focus their efforts. They also need to determine where they are better off just stepping back and giving up ground to other players with the right capabilities or position in the market/value chain? “Knowing where NOT TO focus will be as important as where TO focus,” says Collins.

Distribution will be a key battleground. Insurers and brokers will have to decide whether they are capable of providing the omni-channel experience that consumers and businesses are coming to expect. If they are not capable of providing a service across all of their customer touchpoints that is convenient, consistent and joined up, then consumers will see through the cracks, become frustrated, and go elsewhere to fulfil their insurance needs.

Risk selection and pricing will change beyond recognition. Digitisation provides a huge range of opportunities to form a deeper understanding of a risk and the best price to offer in a particular set of circumstances, as well as the ability to make real-time changes to the product and pricing offered to customers. Collins says the winners in digital insurance will be those organisations that can apply insights drawn from rich data sources, and do so across their integrated channels.

He says service and claims fulfilment will also be transformed in the digital world. Product features and cover will be adjusted without customer or insurer intervention to suit needs and circumstances. Losses will be notified to the insurer automatically. In some cases, customers and insurers/brokers will be notified proactively of a change in the risk, providing an opportunity to avoid the loss altogether.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach for implementing a digital strategy, so a key question is how ambitious an insurance company wants to be,” says Collins. With insurers and brokers of different sizes adopting diverse business models, some will need to focus on the digital capabilities required to operate effectively on a B2B basis, while others will want to immerse themselves fully in the digital world of the new consumer.

“In summary every insurance enterprise needs a digital strategy, knowing where in the changing market they will focus, which capabilities they need for the medium to long term, and how to manage the transition from their existing business model. They also need to set out the immediate actions required to make sure that they don’t get left behind in the short term, because the change is happening now, and it’s happening at a blistering pace,” concludes Collins.

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Cutting through the haze of cloud computing

While the evolution of existing technologies has led to increased demand for cloud services, there is often confusion about what exactly this approach entails and what firms need to consider.

Despite this lack of clarity, Forrester Research, one of the most influential technology research and advisory firms globally, expects the global cloud market to reach $113.9 billion in 2016, with further growth to $241 billion in 2020, as companies look to benefit from increased efficiency and agility, while focusing on their core business rather than their IT operations.

Rhys Collins, Head of African Operations for SSP says “the commoditisation of products and the emergence of new channels to market plus the drive for cost efficiencies means that cloud computing is particularly pertinent to the insurance industry”. “Furthermore,” says Collins, “ with IBM research showing that only 16% of insurers felt they lacked the relevant skills, and cloud computing expected to account for 25% of the average insurer IT budget this year, insurers would seem well-placed to make the most of the benefits available.”

Yet a further report by Novarica, a well-known global IT Consultancy, demonstrated that while over half of insurers use software-as-a-service (SaaS) in some ancillary applications, only 20% of general insurers have active or planned pilots for core applications via SaaS. In addition, IBM noted that almost three times more insurers than the cross-industry average (11% compared to 4%) have no plans to adopt cloud computing in the foreseeable future.

Collins says “given the advantages that can be obtained in terms of managing budgets and resources, it would be valuable for these insurers to re-evaluate their approach”.

“One of the significant benefits of cloud computing is the confidence it provides around IT costs. By renting a virtual server rather than investing in network equipment, insurers can exchange set capital expenditure for operating costs that adapt to meet their requirements. Moreover, packaging up the infrastructure, electricity and disaster recovery with the actual virtual server provides firms with further certainty over their forthcoming outlay.”

As demand for services increases or decreases, the cloud system responds to these changes, ensuring that insurers have the right size provision available and pay no more in IT costs than is strictly necessary. In addition to the economic benefits this flexibility provides, there is the advantage of operational responsiveness to the opportunities and challenges insurers face.

“Of course, all of this requires a change in business attitude to accept the technology and models behind cloud computing. One aspect of this is the need for insurers to have policies in place to adopt cloud-based services in a joined up way to reduce costs through economies of scale,” says Collins.
Insurers also need to manage where their data is stored and ensure they are comfortable with the regional regulations that govern this. It is also not just the physical location that needs to be considered, as regulations often extend beyond national boundaries.

So where is the insurance industry currently in terms of adopting cloud technology? While it is still at the relatively early stages, SSP is already seeing the use of cloud infrastructure as a test environment, and it is only going to be a short period of time before those further core capabilities beyond just policy administration are being adopted through an as-a-service model.

Insurers are also starting to look at using cloud computing for production services and data, and this trend is set to continue as more propositions come to market, in particular the use of big data and management/business intelligence as services.
“Insurers need to be ready to accept the way technology is moving and have policies in place to adopt these services as they come along. This strategy is no different than the outsourcing trends of the past – it’s just that the technology has evolved and the legal aspects are more mature,” concludes Collins.

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SSP looks to top the distribution league with new signing

Leading global technology provider, SSP, has strengthened its distribution and data division with the signing of Ron Atkinson as Head of Insurer Relationships.

Reporting directly to Adrian Coupland, Director, Data and Distribution, Atkinson will be responsible for all personal and commercial lines insurance relationships across SSP in the distribution space.

As the balance of power continues to shift towards consumers, insurers need to adopt new models to maintain their profitability. Atkinson’s knowledge and understanding of the new insurance industry that is emerging will help SSP’s clients adapt and put customers at the heart of their business.

As insurers look to adopt a customer-centric approach, there is a wealth of knowledge available that can deliver greater insight on each individual and business. By augmenting clients’ risk details with a plethora of data from third party sources and existing data warehouses, insurers can gain a greater understanding that enables them to benefit from better pricing sophistication, enhance the journey of their customers and reduce fraud levels.

In addition, with the Data Services, Insurer Relationships and Keychoice teams together in a single trading division, insurers can take full advantage of a market-leading distribution channel, as well as

SSP’s data access and expertise, its 42% market share and the Keychoice distribution asset.

Atkinson’s appointment has led to further changes in the operating structure of the Data and Distribution division, with Jason Moseley taking on the role of Head of Partner and Data Services. The new position will enable Moseley to focus on taking SSP’s data propositions and offerings to market, as well as helping to create new data-led products to keep customers ahead of the curve in a changing market.

“Having worked for Swinton since 1984, including within the Insurer Development Team, I am looking forward to using my knowledge and expertise to help SSP build a market-leading position in the distribution space,” Atkinson said.

Speaking about the appointment, Adrian Coupland said, “With over 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry, Ron brings with him a first class reputation. He is joining SSP at a very exciting point, as we embark on the next phase of growth and evolution.”


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SSP investment in insurer team drives quality and efficiency

SSP has strengthened its insurer division with the appointments of Paul Bryson as Head of Delivery and Paul White as Product Manager for SSP Pure Insurance. Read more