Magazine article CRM Magazine

Technology Helps Insurance Weather the Storm: The Industry Knows How to Write Policies, but Can It Create Efficient Policies for Its Own Business Processes?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Technology Helps Insurance Weather the Storm: The Industry Knows How to Write Policies, but Can It Create Efficient Policies for Its Own Business Processes?

Article excerpt

People can be stubborn, especially when it comes to protecting their assets and homes. When Hurricane Gustav struck major metropolises of Texas in early September 2008, regional evacuations were issued, but some mulish residents tried to hold their ground--ground from which they eventually had to be rescued, at great cost. During such chaotic and stormy times, insurance-company readiness is put to the test. Luckily, technological advancements--especially in the areas of business intelligence and geographic information systems--can alleviate the impact of the catastrophe, ideally by alerting people before disasters strike.

The idea that the insurance sector is a straggler in terms of technological innovation is a myth, according to Chuck Johnston, vice president of strategy and alliances for Oracle Insurance. "People pick on insurance for being a laggard industry, which is totally not the case," he says, noting that the first insurance software broke onto the scene in 1963. Insurance companies are trying to keep up technologically, he says, but often have older legacy systems that take time to move away from.

Change, however, requires more than systems innovation, notes Gartner analyst Kimberly Harris-Ferrante. The technology is there, she says. Reordering the business model is simply more imperative.

In fact, many insurance companies flinch at the mere mention of anything called "CRM," believing that traditional CRM overlooks vertical-specific needs. Many CRM vendors, however, have begun to develop customized solutions in an effort to prove they're paying attention to insurance's unique requirements.

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"You have to have CRM combine with the transactional system," Harris- Ferrante says. "What's happened in [the] last two years is that ... looking at the business process workflow ... CRM vendors [have started] to combine CRM and insurance transactional technologies."

In late September, Oracle introduced Oracle Insurance as a dedicated business division. The announcement came on the heels of two acquisitions: AdminServer, a life insurance policy administrator, in May, and Skywire Software, a provider of customer communications tools, soon thereafter. …

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