Two key themes figure prominently in regulatory discussions that pertain to the insurance industry. They are supervisory focus on risk and capital management and a consistent approach to supervising insurance groups across borders. There is also a potential impact of the Dodd Frank legislation with large insurance companies being tagged as Systematically Important Financial Institutions (SIFI) and the increased focus of the regulators on the issue of unclaimed property. There have also been developments on the tax compliance front, particularly, SSAP 101 and FACTA. On the business
and technology front, claims, policy administration and billing systems replacements have been carried out and the benefits have been harvested from these exercises. The next focus is to establish an enterprise view through superior IT execution, and with help from new solutions from the various Independent Software Vendors (ISV), the insurance industry will be capable of handling all of these challenges.
Insurance companies have tried to meet these increasing regulatory and business challenges through various Information Technology initiatives. These include legacy transformation exercises that deal with modernizing operational systems to retain and extend the value of investments in those systems and may also involve application and infrastructure modernization. The objective of these exercises is to derive value from quicker delivery of business processes, support business objectives and meet regulatory/compliance requirements.
When should legacy modernization be done?
Organizations should evaluate the value delivered by the existing applications and their capability to support new business opportunities. Various factors that need to be considered include the investment made to buy them (license costs or development costs), the skill requirements and availability of the same to support these legacy applications and the performance of the proposed new software compared to the old one.
Why should modernization be undertaken?
Legacy modernization exercises are largely driven by needs to lower costs, mitigate risks associated with running potentially unsupported software. The need for flexibility to add new products and services that are offered by modern platforms offered by various insurance ISV’s, the integration capabilities offered by newer products and meeting regulatory compliance requirements can all be accomplished with adding the newest technologies of SaaS or cloud based platforms.
Challenges in legacy modernization exercises
When organizations embark upon the exercise of legacy modernization, they end up with another application that is capable of supporting the new requirements, but offer no ready solution to migrate the existing data from the legacy systems. One of the critical decisions that organizations need to make is to decide if they should upgrade their existing systems or migrate to new applications.
Various options need to be examined at this point in time and they include:
- Redevelopment – Modernizing the internal design while retaining the core functionality. This provides the applications the capability to interface effectively with other applications that are based on modern technologies
- Adopting Service Oriented Architecture and use a component based model – A component based model would provide a lot of flexibility to meet the needs of the organization
- Technical upgrade – Migrating to a new version of the application to a new platform that would support new business processes and compliance requirements better
- Replace and Retire – Removal of the application from the portfolio and decommissioning the same after migration of the functionality to a different application
Value Offered by ISV’s
ISV’s that focus on offering products and solutions to the insurance industry bring with them practical and real-life experience in modernizing & converting legacy platforms. Typically they are thought leaders within their area of specialization within insurance industry and have likely come up with creative solutions to the problems faced by the industry both in technological and regulatory terms.
Given the plethora of options available, choosing the best way to undertake the modernization exercise requires methodical planning, evaluation of various options and an efficient program for managing the new and modernized application portfolio. The success of the program is dependent
on complete alignment of IT to business, risk assessment and mitigation and a strong program governance model. In conclusion, a successful legacy modernization program would also include an ISV partner that is experienced in these types of upgrades and will listen and be able to address the changing business and regulatory requirements.