As Insurance Industry leaders have been working to conquer significant regulatory, competitive and customer disruption issues, organizations in this sector will know from first-hand experience the challenges of operating with increasingly geographically dispersed workforces, where both people and technology platforms have been stretched to the limit.
As part of a new series of collaborative industry information-sharing initiatives, certified Anaplan partner Vuealta is showcasing its expertise and that of its customers and partners. Vuealta has created a series of webinars where participants can learn from each other as they build increasingly agile approaches to tackling new and existing business challenges.
On 18th of March 2021 Vuealta hosted its Adapt and Reinvent: Planning Strategies for the Insurance Industry in 2021 and Beyond webinar.
Looking to analyze topics including the impact of Covid-19, Brexit and beyond, this meeting of minds also helped set the scene for Insurance organizations preparing for IFRS17 and tabled discussions around how to ensure an organization can be best prepared to meet new regulatory and reporting requirement.
Discussions during this webinar included the controls needed to manage the natural growth and maturity of Anaplan within insurance organizations and how Anaplan is being used to respond to additional reporting requirements from Lloyds.
Opening The Forum
Kicking off proceedings and opening this discussion forum was Adam Bimson in his role as Chief Customer Officer, Vuealta. Alongside him was Sean Culligan, who runs the company’s UK consulting team in his position as Head of Services, Vuealta
In discussion with the Vuealta team were Mehul Nathwani, Group Director of Business Change & Innovation, Aspen – a property casualty reinsurer specialist firm.
Nathwani said that a lot of his focus is improving agility for underwriting to make decisions and select risk more quickly in the markets. For Nathwani and team, a critical factor is his firm’s ability to plan and to be able to adjust business actions according to plan. He says that his team want to be able to make those actions with insights that can allow the business to make real time decisions on a day-to-day basis.
Nathwani explained that in his role, innovation at Aspen is significantly focused on how the firm’s underwriters work with external stakeholders in customers, partners and other third-party organizations. Aspen itself is using the Anaplan software platform to better connect different sides of the organization up from underwriting practices through to the financial modeling and scenario modeling that it carries out.
Contracting Across The Board
Also joining Vuealta for this webinar discussion was Duncan Baker, an Independent FP&A Expert, London P&C Insurance Market. With some 20-years of experience in the business, Baker has worked heavily in the contracting space and so – as a direct result – has seen a wide variety of businesses approach their planning cycle and workload regimes and execute planning management initiatives with varying degrees of success.
Baker says that the FP&A space has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades and this change has manifested itself in five core ways:
- Strategic alignment to business – the ‘finance business partner’ concept has developed significantly in recent times and now the finance function can be viewed as a partner in an of itself.
- Resources – where company resources were predominantly onshore 20-years ago, the last two decades has seen many backoffice functions outsourced and offshored.
- Processes – processes used to depend upon basic labour intensive manual tools like Excel, but in recent times that has been a big shift to automation and intelligence.
- Data – importantly we can also say that data itself has now progressed so that firms are really using big data analytics.
- Technology – a multitude of applications have come onto the market that now work with a far more integrated set of data and tools across the organization.
The panel all agreed that getting User eXperience (UX) right is the biggest challenge in terms of digital transformation, so the drive to actually give people self-service tools that enable them to perform intelligent actions on their own is crucial. With so many inefficiencies and a lack of flexibility in legacy tools, the transition from a manual to a connected world is not an overnight process, so it needs to be done sympathetically with the requirements of real users in mind.
As we now look to drive consistency of experiences for people, data and processes across an organization with new digitally connected tools, the panel looked to the need for firms to identify the areas where they can drive tangible new efficiencies in their business.
Focusing on the Insurance Industry in specific terms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are now coming to the fore in terms of their application in working businesses. Although it is probably still early days in most cases, we can now think about moving past the prototyping phase and develop the application of these technologies to look for where they will have the most impact. The panel agreed that where ML can really help the business is to work through workloads where vast amounts of data exist that we can point machine brains towards.
Connected, joined-up end-to-end planning
For real connected, joined-up end-to-end planning to be brought to bear inside the Insurance Industry, the speakers detailed some of the before-and-after steps where they see intelligent planning being applied.
The most effective use of planning technologies for Insurance Industry businesses sees firms move from manual processes and be able to map out where data will be chanelled towards, once a digital planning platform like Anaplan is implemented. Making sure that there’s a reference architecture to apply data flows to helps create a headstart towards successful project delivery.
Moving human error out of the operational process has always got to be a good thing. Given the disruptive effects of Covid-19 throughout 2020 and beyond, Baker commented that scenario planning is not new per se, but now the Insurance Industry can look to a new and more digitally enabled top-down approach to gain a macroeconomic view of how any business will perform in a period of massively disruptive change.
Nathwani noted that Aspen was already relatively progressed on its Anaplan journey at the start of the pandemic, so the firm was already in a position to be able to simply ‘click a few buttons’ and analyze possible business outcomes.
Thinking about the way companies implement a strategic planning process as part of their operational core, Nathwani and Baker agree that the strategic planning engine should always be run with a view to delivering on the core business plan at any given moment in time. With the prospect of IFRS17 ahead for 2023, the panelists looked to the future requirements that this will bring in for all businesses in this sector.
Operational aspects of the Anaplan platform
Sean Culligan took the ‘virtual’ stage to dig into some of the operational aspects of the Anaplan platform. It is clear that an efficient implementation of Anaplan is one where each module is brought online only when a conscientious study of User eXperience (UX) is also tabled as a trackable working measure.
In terms of what drives Anaplan adoption, all speakers agreed that it is vitally important to put the ownership of any technology in the hands of the users themselves. It is essential to be able to drive change management once end consumers of a technology product or service have an ability to provide feedback, early and often.
Although Analplan is great for planning, it also performs really well for reporting and the discussion moved to how reports are used. For Baker, good reporting should be carried out that is integral to the planning process and secondly, it should form a part of the data streams channeled towards BI platforms.
As Anaplan continues to mature and evolve and augment its levels of functionality, Vuelalta’s central piece of advice is to never ‘just’ focused on Anaplan. It always remains fundamentally important to focus on the business, whatever industry vertical a firm finds itself operating in.
This Vuealta Planning Strategies for the Insurance Industry in 2021 and Beyond webinar rounded out with a practical live-video demonstration of Anaplan. Once organizations in the Insurance Industry start to leverage scenario modeling and digital planning platform technologies, they can really start to move towards becoming changemakers that adapt & reinvent for the greater good.