Insurers must not fear e-commerce thinking

The sum.cumo Insurance Platform—SCIP—takes the best of the evolving e-commerce industry, and layers it into tools that are purpose-built to drive growth and scale for the insurance industry, writes the firm’s Björn Eickmann.

The march of technology and digital change has not spared any industry, and adapting to the new pace of change is a defining strategic pressure of the last quarter century. The innovation cycle that has disrupted so many industries follows a now familiar path: innovation, disruption, adaptation, and new growth.

For insurance, there is now an opportunity to leap past the expensive early steps of “creative destruction”. Best practices and mature enterprise-level tools that answer the digital question are emerging at the same time.

An exceptional example is aYo in South Africa—a company whose success showcases the value of thinking outside the box and using technology as a basis for business. aYo’s origins from within MTN, a telecommunications company, might lead some insurers to dismiss its applicability to existing insurance companies, but its success is less about “coming from telecom and tech” and more about recognising that they could leverage available tech tools—in this case solid e-commerce frameworks—to sell a new service to customers they already had access to.

aYo offers hospital cover and life insurance products to users and subscribers of MTN Mobile Money, a mobile banking solution. Users dial a Quick Code to begin the registration process, and premiums are deducted through airtime or mobile money. The service is available in several African countries and continues to grow.

Roughly three years after the launch almost 10 million policy holders have been registered, with minimal transaction costs. Mobile insurance is now considered the most efficient way to reach the African market.

Underneath it all the backbone is a technology and sales platform that is scalable in practically no time and works like a modern e-commerce suite rather than a traditional insurance core system.

The tech tools that power businesses such as aYo share a few key features that set them apart from traditional core systems. They all can quickly and directly exchange data with customers and distribution channels in real time and are available 24/7.

Meeting these norms by upgrading legacy core systems will not be enough. Only companies which make profound use of new available technologies will have a chance to win the race for keeping and winning end-customers. Today’s consumers value fast, accessible and direct servicing more than a brand promise, which cannot be experienced online.

E-commerce requires excellent processes in the frontend and backend, offering broad ranges and configuration options for products and processes as well as a lean and scalable platform for purely digital end-to-end sales and service processes. This assertion still seems forward-thinking for insurance, but other industries have long been using powerful online shop systems that offer exactly the right features required to satisfy customers.

Quality and speed of customer service are the focus of all activities—and the leaders of this change for insurance are already leveraging the type of tools that power the sales channels for the world’s biggest businesses.

Insurance application

At sum.cumo, a Sapiens company, we build on the e-commerce DNA of our founders. We understand how great digital customer experiences are built—and we’ve tailored them specifically for the insurance industry. The sum.cumo Insurance Platform (SCIP) takes the best of the evolving e-commerce industry, and layers it into tools that are purpose-built to drive growth and scale for the insurance industry.

“Our solutions shorten time to market and open the door to a more stable path to embracing the new dominant customer channels.”

Björn Eickmann, sum.como

Today, our tools and solutions power different types of organisational models (eg, insurtechs, corporate startups, transforming traditional insurers). We help partners create tailored solutions that meet their specific internal realities. Every sum.cumo platform results in the same key goal: enabling customer-centricity through transparent and fast end-to-end processes in all sales and service offerings.

The SCIP consists of three separate layers that cater perfectly to the needs of any digital insurance business model:

  • SCIP Sales is an e-commerce suite tailored to the insurance business. SCIP Sales comprises marketing tools for optimal customer attraction and interaction, website pages and forms—all at an unmatched quality layered with features that solve insurance-specific needs.
  • SCIP Core is a lean and high-performing core system application ready to support all P&C products and business processes.
  • API Layer connects to a broad range of eco-system partners and at the same time is able to communicate and exchange data with existing company-internal systems—keeping everything synced for the enterprise, and the customer.

We started designing and building SCIP from scratch at a time when technology was finally ready to support e-commerce processes as required by the insurance market—and the necessary regulatory and security issues had become solved problems.

The modular setup of SCIP enables insurance companies to leverage pre-configured modules while having all options for individual frontends and processes that can give them a competitive edge over other players—effectively leveraging best practices out of the box, and leaving lots of room for their own DNA over time.

First movers such as nexible and freeyou have already built great businesses on SCIP, proving market readiness of the technology.

We have leveraged learnings from early successes and have enhanced the platform so that more types of businesses can enjoy the benefits of modern e-commerce solutions without changing their existing core infrastructure first.

Companies such as German insurance group Die Bayerische show how it can be done. Together we have built a strong online player that goes hand in hand with their traditional distribution channels and uses the excellent knowledge base of their existing IT team to evolve the core. Our solutions shorten time to market and open the door to a more stable path to embracing the new dominant customer channels.

SCIP is committed to adding clear value at every step of our integration, and we are built on secure open source technologies that always allow our clients to become self-sufficient over time.

However, most of our clients choose to remain part of the sum.cumo community, participate in the further development of the platform and benefit from the vast amount of knowledge that other companies bring to the table. Technology is change, and we help clients always stay at the cutting edge of the market.

Companies with the ambition to successfully perform in the digital world can use this platform as an enabler for their business model. It is a unique opportunity to focus on developing smart ideas rather than worrying about whether the IT platform can support the business model in the future.

About sum.cumo

sum.cumo, a Sapiens company, stands for successful, holistic digitisation of traditional business models. With about 200 permanently employed experts, we offer the insurance industry disruptive innovations and customer-centric solutions based on the latest technologies and modern software platforms.

Accompanied by our specialists in consulting, user experience, front- and backend development and marketing, successful projects are created from the idea to the implementation.

We work closely with our customers in agile, cross-functional teams. The results of our diverse projects prove that digital business models based on our products and solutions can be implemented quickly, on budget and successfully. Our own open source-based software reduces financial barriers to entry, ensures a very attractive time-to-market and allows close customer collaboration even during development. By the way: we also enjoy our work together.

Björn Eickmann works in consulting at sum.como. He can be contacted at:

Image: Shutterstock / Kaspars Grinvalds

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