SOURCE: X by 2

X by 2

January 03, 2014 01:25 ET

Top 2014 Insurance Technology Challenges Named by X by 2

FARMINGTON HILLS, MI--(Marketwired - Jan 3, 2014) - What will be the top IT challenges and trends for the insurance industry in 2014? X by 2, a consulting firm specializing in the industry, offers these.

Ramping Up Self-Service. The age-old model of relying exclusively on the human channel -- agents -- in the insurance industry is breaking down. Agents can no longer be the only channel for servicing the consumer.

"Insurers that embrace change and make significant investments in direct-service channels and self-service capabilities to consumers through mobile and web will gain market share for the foreseeable future," says Yasir Hussain, principal of X by 2. "While system modernization continues to take place in the backend, leapfrog investments will be made to the systems supporting mobile and web."

Big Data Gets "Small." All the fuss over Big Data leads to one "small" thing only: getting to know your customer better than your competition. Insurers that recognized the potential of Big Data and began to do something about it several years ago will begin to reap the benefits this year. Connecting the dots for a single view of the customer for better sales, service, and support now become possible. For organizations that have not laid the groundwork for this new reality, the competition gets tougher.

Suites are Sweet. Gone are the days of best-of-breed solutions, particularly when the promise of integrated data, processes and functionality is dangled in front of CIOs desperate for less complexity and expense. That said, the onus will be on vendors making the promises to turn this potential nirvana into reality for anxious insurance customers. "Besides, in the time-constrained lives of CIOs, it helps to have just one throat to choke," says X by 2 CIO Advocate Frank Petersmark.

X Marks the Spot. In 2014 X stands for execution. "Patience has its limits, even in the sometimes frustratingly patient insurance industry," Petersmark says. This year will be all about executing on the many transformative initiatives in play at many insurers -- core systems, business intelligence and analytics, and customer facing portals and platforms -- to name a few. The pressure remains on IT to deliver the kinds of enabling systems and platforms that leads to market advantage. "The pressure is on in 2014 to execute, execute, and execute!" he says.

BI Throwdown: Data Scientists vs. Storytellers. Data scientists are necessary, but what carriers will really be looking for in 2014 are people who can apply context, intuition, and visualization to the massive amounts of data pumped out by their data scientists. In other words, storytellers. There is great value locked in the information stores of most insurers, but unlocking that value requires more than just the data itself. It requires somebody to put it all in an actionable context that can be understood and leveraged by those who need to make the business decisions.

X by 2 ( in Farmington Hills, Mich., specializes in IT transformation projects for the insurance industry. It provides architecture design, planning, oversight, and turnaround services on enterprise-scale business technology initiatives. Clients include national and regional life, health and property-casualty insurers.

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