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From Vizuri's Experts

InsureTech 2019: Notes from a Cloud Evangelist

This is guest blog post by Red Hat Cloud Evangelist, Jeff Ekstrom. 

As a cloud evangelist at Red Hat, InsureTech Connect 2019 in Las Vegas, NV was a unique opportunity to join Vizuri and understand how technology is transforming core business processes in insurance.

Vizuri has pioneered a focus on making the business case for open source within insurance. While they work across a range of markets and Fortune 500 companies, they are breaking the mold among Red Hat partners with this focus on market-based solutions—most notably, their underwriting modernization solution. I joined to understand how insurers are responding.

Observations from Attendees

Over the course of the event, I had the opportunity to talk with many insurers, insurtechs, and technology providers.

Here are a few trends in those conversations that stood out to me:

Focus on Customer Experience

Customer demographics and buying patterns are shifting towards millennials, and there is a lot of attention on tweaking the buying experience to minimize the burden on customers. Being able to gather exactly the data required from the customer and nothing further using our dynamic, rules-based, questionnaire was a recurring topic when discussing the customer buying experience.

A streamlined underwriting process will close business more quickly and leave customers with a positive impression of the process. 

Empowering the Business User

Many customers were intrigued by the notion of creating Knowledge Engineers, who are essentially business users with the power to write business rules. Vizuri’s underwriting solution utilizes a piece of Red Hat technology known as Process Automation Manager (PAM), which has a number of powerful capabilities, including the ability to create a rules database that is external to the application.

By moving the business rules out of the application and into a purpose-built tool, our combined solution empowers business users to create and update their own rules, model scenarios, and make data driven business decisions without requiring a high level of technical acumen. 

Flexibility of the Platform

Many customers assumed that our underwriting solution was deployed as a Software-As-A-Service solution. That is not the case. By utilizing Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform, our underwriting solution can meet the customer where they live (whether in the cloud or the datacenter), can easily extend to include multiple groups within the same organization, and can easily incorporate technologies such as AI/ML into the decision-making process.

Vizuri’s motto is “Innovate and integrate, don’t adapt and stagnate.” An important enabler of that is the underlying technology platform. 

Observations Based on Vendors

While I spent most of my time with customers, I did make some time to walk the floor and talk to vendors.

Here are some trends that especially interested me within the insurance industry:

Insurer-Insurtech Connectivity

With the proliferation of insurtechs that offer AI, data services, IoT devices, etc., there needs to be common connectivity between these data and service providers and the systems of traditional insurers. There are multiple platform offerings to ensure connectivity between old and new systems, which helps insurers to keep pace with innovation while maintaining business critical systems. 

Internet of Things-Data on the Edge

There were numerous gadgets on the floor that could detect water or motion, that could tell the difference between someone running the shower or flushing a toilet, or could determine the features and characteristics of a property that is to be insured. One thing that I am impressed with is the use of drones to capture and analyze property characteristics, especially roofing. The proliferation of IoT devices is astonishing, and this data needs to be collected, analyzed, and acted upon, which brings me to my next point. 

Heavy Emphasis on AI/ML

I saw multiple vendors with AI offerings that ran the gamut of how they could be incorporated in solutions. There’s AI to price risk, develop crash avoidance skills, detect fraud, etc. AI is the new normal and it is a necessary input to well-defined business models. Ultimately, I see a pattern in insurance that I see across verticals at Red Hat. Collect growing sets of data, apply AI/ML to make actionable insights, and incorporate that into a well-defined process model to produce a more precise outcome in the fraction of the time.

Our work with underwriting reminds me, to a certain degree, of what financial services institutions take on with money laundering or fraud detection. Detecting bad actors in the financial services space has been around for as long as financial services have been around, but with new technology and larger datasets, companies are now able to resolve suspected cases of laundering or fraud much more quickly—and with more accurate results. This is similar to being able to write policies more quickly with fewer adverse selections in the underwriting space. 

Did you also attend InsureTech Connect 2019? Vizuri and I would be interested in your thoughts—reach out to us anytime.

Jeff Ekstrom

Jeff Ekstrom is a cloud evangelist for Red Hat’s Certified Cloud and Service Provider program. He has extensive experience with cloud strategy and architecture, with industry experience in Telecommunications, Federal Government, and Insurance. His cloud strategy focus includes both open source technologies and hybrid cloud enablement. Jeff joined Red Hat in late 2015, where he has been promoting and designing Red Hat solutions within Red Hat's partner ecosystem. Prior to that, Jeff's experience includes companies such as Accenture, The Coca-Cola Corporation, and SAIC.