Putting the “Enterprise” in ECM for the Insurance Market

This is the third of a three part series from Strategy Meets Action (SMA) partner – and now Hyland guest blogger – Mark Breading. His first and second posts were “Content is King in the Insurance Enterpriseand ECM for GWP: Enabling Growth in Insurance Through Content Management.”

Insurers are operating in saturated markets in North America, and the current slow but steady economic recovery is creating more pressure to run efficient and effective businesses. In today’s environment, insurers agree that the management of their documents and content is a critical issue – one that is a key contributor to their success. Insurance companies have been applying technology to this area for decades, and are now increasing the focus they are placing on enterprise content management (ECM) systems.

In the early years of automation, technologies were leveraged to improve the efficiency of handling paper documents – the printing, sorting, inserting, and mailing of letters and policies to customers and third parties. For the past two decades, insurers have applied IT solutions to the management of electronic documents and content.

Like many other areas of insurance IT, the application of technology around documents and content has often resulted in silos – separate islands of IT solutions that are either not connected or only loosely connected. While implementations at the department, line of business, or geography level have frequently produced good results, they have created problems when viewed in light of the realities of today’s marketplace and customer expectations.

Most insurers sell and service their products through multiple distribution channels today. Customers expect that they will be able to connect with their insurer via the phone, the web, through the mail, or other methods. They also expect that the documents and other communications they receive from insurers will be consistent, accurate, and timely. If a quote is presented through the website, the customer may want to place a call to the call center to check on the status. They expect that quote information to be immediately available to their call center representative.

When insurers have multiple systems managing content and documents, the potential for poor channel hand-offs and incorrect information increases. On the other hand, insurers with solutions spanning the enterprise find it easier to coordinate content across channels and service requests with holistic, complete, and up-to-date insight and information. 

Strategy Meets Action recently conducted a short survey of how insurers are using and managing their ECM solutions. The intent was to determine what progress the industry is making toward integrating content management across the enterprise. Nearly 200 respondents from insurance companies of all sizes in North America participated in this survey. Surprisingly, 32 percent of respondents state that they have achieved full integration across the enterprise – what SMA terms “true ECM.” Figure 1 illustrates the state of ECM integration for insurers.

Putting the “Enterprise” in ECM

While it is impressive that one-third have achieved true ECM, this means that two-thirds of insurers still have systems that have been implemented in silos, with some deploying separate systems by department or line of business (13 percent) and others combining some standalone systems with others that are shared across some parts of the enterprise (34 percent). Others have implemented shared solutions, but they do not yet span the entire enterprise (21 percent).

The fact that 35 percent of insurers in this survey have document and content management systems that truly span the enterprise is encouraging – but, as is often the case in the insurance industry, a deeper investigation tells more of the story. When evaluated by tier, it becomes apparent that the smaller organizations are more likely to have achieved true ECM, while the larger organizations have a greater challenge in integrating these systems across the enterprise. In fact, 45 percent of Tier 4 companies (less than $250M in premium), have true ECM systems, while only 30 percent of Tier 1 companies make the same claim.

A single ECM system is used by 38 percent of survey participants, consisting of 35 percent purchased software systems and 3 percent customer-written solutions. Multiple systems are used by 62 percent of insurers, with some using more than one software package (25 percent), others using multiple custom-developed systems (5 percent), and the remainder using a combination of acquired and home-grown ECM systems.

These results are generally in line with SMA observations in the market and align with insurer development philosophies for IT in general. The smaller companies have a greater tendency to buy software packages and implement them across the enterprise, while the larger companies still custom build portions, or all, of their solutions. The business need and the trend is unmistakable – more and more insurers plan to put the enterprise into enterprise content management systems by implementing a common solution to span their organization.

About the Author

Mark Breading, a Partner at SMA, is a recognized industry expert in the CCM space. With exceptional knowledge and experience in all aspects of customer centricity – CCM, CRM, customer insights, ECM, data and analytics, and more, Mark is the go-to person for all things customer related. Mark can be reached at mbreading@strategymeetsaction.com.

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