Enterprise Ireland, the government agency responsible for the development and promotion of Irish businesses has, in conjunction with Datamonitor, conducted an extensive study into the top business and technology needs across the global insurance industry - giving IT vendors in the insurance sector a unique, inside perspective.
The research uncovers a number of key IT priorities for European and US insurers, including product development and innovation, driving down the product development lifecycle, and investment in business process management.
Best-in-class insurers lead in terms of technology platforms and strong IT/business alignment, but IT priorities can vary significantly. The study, 'Insurance technology strategy perspectives', provides a clear understanding of the requirements of insurers.
The leading area for IT investment in 2008, as rated by 25 insurance institutions across the UK, US and continental Europe, is product innovation and development. Insurers which need to differentiate themselves to avoid commoditisation are now actively seeking to enhance their brand by investing in product innovation and service delivery.
With product development high on the agenda, insurers are also demanding a reduction in product development lifecycle to bring products to market more competitively. 55% of the insurers surveyed believe that they will achieve this by centralising product/business rules which can be accessed via Service Oriented Architecture systems.
The Datamonitor research also uncovers a distinct difference between continental Europe, the UK and the US in terms of enterprise level process mapping as a business priority. European insurers lead the way with 75% having an enterprise operations function with a strong understanding of the importance of process. This compared with the US where only 13% of insurers have an understanding of process at this level.
The impact of business process management (BPM) is also better understood in Europe than in the US. This is particularly strong in the UK, Nordics and France with 57.1% of insurers seeing strong strategic value in BPM at enterprise level.
"Irish IT vendors have long been at the cutting edge of insurance technology," said Judi Blackmur, Senior Advisor, Enterprise Ireland. "By undertaking this study, Enterperprise Ireland enables these companies to continue to differentiate themselves and build on their excellent reputation as leaders in innovation.
"Enterprise Ireland's mission is to support the development of Irish businesses. This extensive study gives a valuable, neutral insight into the global insurance industry and uncovers key business opportunities, giving Irish IT vendors in the insurance sector a substantial competitive edge."
The full study provides Irish IT vendors with further insight into the technology strategies of insurers, covering compliance, underwriting, claims and distribution.