Digital, Core and Microservices: Conversations at IASA 2018

Leading vendors discuss the strategies they are shaping in response to the demand created by challenges insurers face in adopting modern technologies.

(Stan Morris, VP, Business Development, Data; and Brian Evans, VP, Business Development, ITS. Photo by author.)

Scaling for Rapid Growth: Abhijeet Jhaveri, ValueMomentum

The accelerated pace of change in the insurance industry has been good for transformation-focused ValueMomentum. The Piscataway, N.J.-based vendor has gained 18 customers in as many months for a variety of transformation-related projects across a spectrum of functional and technology areas including digital transformation, core transformation, bureau rating, cloud solutions, customer communications and enterprise integration, according to Abhijeet Jhaveri, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer. As a result of the booming business, the company is ready to scale and has undertaken a restructuring that includes the appointment of Kalyan “KK” Kodali as CEO (more on that at this link).

Abhijeet Jhaveri, Chief Marketing Officer, ValueMomentum.

Jhaveri attributes the company’s rapid growth to a variety of factors. Among those relating to the company itself are its range of software and services and its insurance focus

He also credits ValueMomentum’s customer ethos as a success factor. “Among our core values is that we put the customer first, operate with integrity, make sure every employee wins—we believe the honest work benefits everyone, helping our customer succeed and helping our careers as well,” Jhaveri says. “We also take the view that we have no sacred cows—we don’t push our solutions but rather tailor solutions for what is best for the client, and we see the resulting success as a win/win whatever the solution.”

Jhaveri also acknowledges the influence of an extremely favorable business environment in the insurance industry on the company’s recent growth. “We think there’s an unprecedented opportunity today for an organization such as ours—systems integrators, software and service providers—because of the changing nature of risk exposure and assessment, huge demographic shifts and changing customer appetite,” he says. “These are precipitating the need for insurers to embark on transformational journeys.”

Sapiens’ North America Journey: Yaffa Cohen-Ifrah and Alex Zukerman

What might be called Sapiens’ North America campaign began in earnest in 2014. Today, the company is consolidating its acquisitions from both a technology and marketing point of view and reinvent itself for this market. While the company had long been active in North America, it acquired Maximum Processing (of the Stingray system) in mid-2016, which it followed up with the hugely significant acquisition of StoneRiver, announced in Feb. 2017. The company acquired Adaptik, in Feb. 2018.

Yaffa Cohen-Ifrah, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Corporate Communications, Sapiens.

The magnitude of Sapiens’ investments in North American companies are enough to demonstrate its seriousness about the market, but it is now following that up with commitments that show its determination to make the most of the opportunity to strengthen its position on the continent.  “We’re working hard on consolidation and integration, for example presenting the Adaptik core components and StoneRiver Stream Claims together,” relates Yaffa Cohen-Ifrah, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Corporate Communications, Sapiens.

“Georgia Farm Bureau is our first customer with Steam Claims, and they have now selected Adaptik Policy and Billing,” Cohen-Ifrah continues. “They will be our first customer that have the three components of our offering for mid- to upper tier North American carriers.” [Sapiens offers Stingray for lower-tier carriers in North America.]

Today Sapiens offers what it characterizes as a strong proposition for both small and mid- to upper-tier property/casualty carriers. The vendor has two products for the workers’ compensation market: WC PowerSuite and CompSuite. On life side, it has the combined offering of Sapiens and StoneRiver, which strengthens its former position tremendously. The vendor has also embraced the platform concept, the next departure from the integrated suite insurance core system paradigm which includes core, data-related and digital solutions—or really any technology capabilities a carrier might need.

Alex Zukerman, Head of Corporate Product Strategy, Sapiens.

“For us platform is a major shift in how we see the industry evolving, and combining platform with our being the SI of this platform—those are two unique aspects of what we do,” comments Alex Zukerman, Head of Corporate Product Strategy, Sapiens. “We feel very confident also doing the delivery and customization is an added value—not a revenue but a quality thing. Having your strategy and road map being intimate with the customers, provide them the value and give them support. When you combine that with platform it’s a single focal point, one hand to shake. The expectation is customers will look at us for all the insurance things, analytics, innovation with startups. We’re providing them a platform they can grow on.”

Data is the Insurance Industry’s Gold: Stan Morris, ITS

Stan Morris, an industry veteran whom we’ve had the pleasure of interacting with at some of the most important companies in the insurance technology space, recently joined Insurance Technology Services (ITS) and made a public debut of sorts at IASA 2018. His new appointment as ITS’s VP of Business Development continues a career focus in driving innovation in insurer’s use of data.

Morris likens the progress of insurers use of electronic data use to that of the progressive refinement of petroleum products after the mineral product supplanted whale oil, from kerosene to gasoline to jet fuel—each step resulting in the liberation of greater power.  “The core of all the innovation, that thing that fuels it and is necessary to make it reality is harnessing the power of data,” Morris comments. “Insurance data activities, while useful, were historically treated with a measure of disdain—I remember in the early days of my career that data migration jobs were given to you as a punishment. But now people realize that’s where the gold is.”

Morris stressed that ITS is helping companies handle that aspect of their business, moving data from legacy systems into more modern systems where it can be harnessed. “Carriers spend a great deal of time choosing the right core systems and don’t always allocate as much energy to thinking about what’s necessary to have a successful project,” Morris observes. “We’re helping companies migrate to a new core system, including helping them plan the testing, data migration and set up training—which is often an afterthought.”

Getting the Band Back Together: Martyn Sutton, AdvantageGo

It’s not unusual for IT services companies to have powerful software solutions among their assets, but it is difficult for them to establish themselves as product companies as part of their branding. That challenge is what led NIIT Technologies (Noida, India) to launch its AdvantageGo brand from its insurance technology division, with a new emphasis on the U.S. market. The new brand reunites veterans of several important insurance technology veterans who are alumni of Xuber/Xchanging, including Adrian Morgan, EVP at AdvantageGo, John Racher, the company’s head of U.K. operations, and Martyn Sutton, head of U.S. operations.

Martyn Sutton, Head of U.S., AdvantageGo.

“We’re putting the band back together,” Sutton quipped in our meeting at IASA 2018. “Adrian Morgan’s remit is to build on the pedigree we have in the London market and start looking overeas. We all worked at Rebus/Xchanging and, looking further back, reinsurance and high-end specialty.”

The new brand could be interpreted to signify a departure from existing advantages, in this case a proven core platform and pedigree in policy, claims and billing, now combined with microservices, digital systems, and Aniita, the vendor’s digital assistant, which gives users quick, accurate access to business-critical information.

AdvantageGo will continue to aim at large commercial insurers, at least for its core systems. However, its digital services have the potential to tap the broader market, and feature APIs that can integrate with popular core systems, such as Guidewire and Duck Creek, according to Sutton.

It’s still early days for AdvantageGo’s U.S. business—Sutton joined the firm six months ago. “We have signed a contract with a tier-one carrier for policy, claims and billing,” he shares. “In the U.K., we’re building on our existing strength, having just signed with a large U.K.-based syndicate for the core platform.

ValueMomentum Names Kalyan Kodali CEO

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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