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Little more than a month after acquiring a majority stake in Accenture Duck Creek, global private equity firm Apax Partners (London) announced today that funds it advises have agreed to acquire Agencyport (Boston), arguably the largest provider of P&C insurance systems of engagement in North America. A joint statement from Apax, Duck Creek and Agencyport affirms that the acquisition is being made in connection with the formation of Duck Creek Technologies, a joint venture between Apax and Accenture. The Agencyport acquisition is expected to close by the end of August 2016, concurrently with the formation of new Duck Creek entity.
Agencyport’s popular solutions include AgencyPortal, Turnstile, and BookSmart. AgencyPortal offers a what the vendor calls mobile-friendly and multi-device responsive design currently used by over 150,000 independent agents and 70 carriers to efficiently grow their businesses and better serve their customers. The joint statement asserts that the combination of Agencyport’s highly reputed user experience and Duck Creeks digital platform will enable carriers to conduct business with their agents, brokers and customers through any channel, using any device.
As part of the product strategy, the Duck Creek joint venture is expected to support and invest in Agencyport products and provide independent portal offerings that can front-end any policy, claims, or billing system, the vendors report. Carriers implementing both Duck Creek and Agencyport products will benefit from a highly integrated, end-to-end digital experience, and the option for SaaS-based deployment, their statement says. Curt Stevenson, Agencyport’s CEO, will join the existing Duck Creek management team.
Digital Distribution ‘Nirvana’
“Agencyport’s vision has been to improve the industry by offering a digital engagement platform that connects to diverse systems in the carrier IT environment,” Stevenson comments. “With Duck Creek, we will create a digital distribution nirvana that will enable insurers to provide user-friendly omni-channel engagement for agents, brokers and customers.”
The teaming of two of the industry’s premiere solution sets—Agencyport’s front-end portals for carriers, agents, brokers and customers and Duck Creek’s advanced software, and digital and cloud technologies—creates a unique market opportunity to meaningfully accelerate digital insurance, asserts Jason Wright, a partner at Apax. “Leading insurance companies of all sizes are looking to highly experienced vendors to guide them through the multi-faceted aspects of digital transformation and innovation. Agencyport and Duck Creek are a clear choice for that leadership.”
The acquisition is a further step toward the age of suites in insurance enterprise software, in the view of comments Matthew Josefowicz, president and CEO of Boston-based research and advisory firm Novarica. “Most buyers expect vendors to offer portal, policy, billing, and claims in a componentized suite where the elements can be implemented in any order,” he comments. “Most buyers prefer for a single provider to offer them a full suite of components, rather than manage relationships between vendors in a best-of-breed scenario. We anticipate that most single-component providers will be acquired by the suite vendors over time.”
(Editor’s Note: See SMA’s Karen Furtado’s take on the acquisition at the link below.)
The deal reinforces Apax Partners’ commitment to the property/casualty insurance software sector and also pushes digitization of the industry for new business and other functionality, according to Donald Light, Director, North America Property/Casualty Practice, Celent (Boston).
Seamless Mobile Access
“Insurers want the internal and external users of their systems to have seamless mobile access to new business and other functionality,” Celent’s Light comments. “Agencyport has developed one of the leading solutions for agents, brokers, and policyholders find information and execute transactions with insurers’ core systems.”
As is true for any technology acquisition, the soon to be combined management teams of Agencyport and Duck Creek will need to focus on communicating the benefits of their new relationship to current and prospective customers—sending a “good before, better now” message, Light adds. “Providing ‘vendor neutral’ support to Agencyport customers who do not use Duck Creek solutions and Duck Creek customer who do not use AgencyPort solutions will also be crucial,” he says.
The Agencyport acquisition also illustrates important dynamics underway more broadly in the insurance technology market, according to Mike Fitzgerald, a Senior Analyst at Celent. “First, administration systems continue to broaden in their scope; they have moved away from being only backoffice, account/stat functions,” Fitzgerald notes. “Second, delivering increased functionality to the sales process and integrating this tightly with the rest of the platform demonstrates an emphasis on distribution.”