Having the right cloud strategy can promote more innovation, growth, productivity and digital agility. It’s a proven framework for future success.
No one likes being treated like a number.
A great customer experience with real people showing they care feels good. Sometimes, it can even create a customer for life. In the property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry, this becomes even more poignant for customers reaching out in their greatest moment of need.
At the same time, it’s challenging for P&C insurance carriers to handle large batches of claims with immediacy and personal attention. Using on-premises-based systems can lengthen claims processing times. A sound cloud strategy boosts digital agility and customer experience. To me, this is where insurance companies want to be operating: at the crossroad of technology and humanity where customers are the reason why.
What got insurance companies to this point will not move them forward. The world has changed.
Aging infrastructure, the rise of remote work, latency issues, rising customer expectations for immediacy and online access, and more distributed endpoints demand a cloud strategy that gives P&C insurance companies a scalable network architecture.
At the center of the conversation is the customer experience. Financial services organizations using cloud technology are positioned to deliver faster response times for policyholders and get new products to market faster.
Cloud strategy is a concise point of view on the role of cloud within the organization. It is a living document, designed to bridge between a high-level corporate strategy and a cloud implementation/adoption/migration plan.
I saw the power of cloud transformation for smaller insurance carriers during a recent visit to Panhandle Farmers Mutual Insurance, located in West Virginia.
The company sat on a hill with beautiful, hundred-year-old trees bordering the street. Inside the modest red brick office building, inefficiency and an excessive amount of paperwork plagued the company. As Panhandle’s President Art Meadows gave me a tour, I saw stacked boxes of paper, ledger books, paper claims and agency maps in the basement. Until they partnered up with BriteCore to implement a cloud-based core platform, employees manually processed claims.
Now Panhandle’s work is digitalized and there’s greater uptime. The company has increased revenues 200% since automating processes.
As the use of artificial Intelligence (AI) grows, the need for human interaction becomes even more important. This means using the right balance of automation and empathy. In a blog written by Nusrat Atta, Industry Solutions Specialist, AT&T Business, entitled “6 ways insurers can use technology to scale human empathy,” Atta says that depending on automation “too much can undercut the trust and peace-of-mind benefits that fuel demand for insurance products in the first place.”
A cloud strategy allows faster response time for policyholders and streamlines services. The article suggests having a deeper understanding of the customer journey so the right balance of technology and interaction is achieved. I predict that a cloud strategy will actually free people to add a greater human touch to customer relationships.
Let’s take a look at a global enterprise who has been there, done that. Citizens Bank, in partnership with AT&T, elevated its operations and delivered a better customer experience with cloud.
I set aside time to attend the AT&T Business Summit where AT&T Business Associate Director Jason Levisee talked with Stephen White, Citizens Bank’s senior vice president of network services.
Citizens Bank, with $187 billion in total assets, wanted to deliver more agile capabilities for its customers and internal team. AT&T provided a custom solution that White says helped his organization deliver strategically on outcomes and “transformed 900 branches on this model” in less than 18 months (about 80 branches per month).
The financial institution was plagued by aging network infrastructure, no Wi-Fi, T1 support or 4G backup. It could not meet the demands of a digital experience. They’ve since moved from an outsourced operating model to an insourced operating model leveraging a custom, co-managed operations model with AT&T. Of top importance to White’s team: to control the service levels of the business. To meet that demand, AT&T also built a custom, onshore Integrated Service Desk (ISD).
My biggest takeaway was how Citizens Bank made its tech part of the company’s business strategy. White said it well when mentioning that transitioning to the cloud meant better access through direct access. His initial expectation was to replace the equipment and deliver Wi-Fi, and position the company for DIA around its cloud strategy. Instead, the company went much further.
If you’re thinking about adopting a distributed infrastructure using multi-cloud solutions, here are a few things to consider: use a highly secure data infrastructure for storing near real-time client data, get all the necessary compliance certificates and provide training before starting the migration process. AT&T SD-WAN solutions integrate security mechanisms in-line, parallel to, and in-cloud.
Beyond the tactics, perhaps the best path to cloud is to be open to possibilities. A lot of people might view AT&T as a major provider of mobile and Wi-Fi services to people’s homes. But the nearly 40-year-old company is actually the largest telecommunications company in the world, working alongside global enterprises to get them where they need to be. For Citizens Bank, White commented that AT&T’s efforts “fundamentally changed our ability to support our business.” That’s the kind of transformational change and impact having the right cloud partner can make.
The place to look for answers? Your customer’s world. In an article by PwC, author Ellen Walsh summarizes where insurance companies have been and the shifting sands they face. “For decades,” she writes, “we’ve watched insurers emphasize dependability — often correlated with size. But as attitudes change, flexibility and responsiveness is growing in importance to your wholesale and retail customers just as it is to your employees.”
This means making it easy for consumers to access information, buy insurance products and get the personal service they need and want. The days of “this is how we do things” doesn’t fly in an era of demanding consumer expectations. A sound cloud strategy is the path to digital agility and, with that, a more dynamic customer experience.
Helen Yu is a Global Top 20 thought leader in 10 categories, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cybersecurity, internet of things and marketing. She is a Board Director, Fortune 500 Advisor, WSJ Best Selling & Award Winning Author, Keynote Speaker, Top 50 Women in Tech and IBM Top 10 Global Thought Leader in Digital Transformation. She is also the Founder & CEO of Tigon Advisory, a CXO-as-a-Service growth accelerator, which multiplies growth opportunities from startups to large enterprises. Helen collaborated with prestigious organizations including Intel, VMware, Salesforce, Cisco, Qualcomm, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft and Vodafone. She is also the author of Ascend Your Start-Up.