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In the world of insurance technology, suddenly platforms are hot.
In the past few months, Guidewire articulated an expansive vision for its trademarked Guidewire Insurance Platform; IBM announced an “industry first” Insurance Platform, and Majesco launched Majesco Digital1st Insurance, a “Platform as a Service.”
First, a little background. Having a platform sounds great, but . . .
- What is a platform?
- And why should anyone build one?
Many platforms start out as a limited purpose website (e.g., searching the web, selling books, or letting friends keep track of one another). If it achieves that purpose in a very engaging and effective way (aka fast, fun, and easy), then that website starts drawing a lot of visitors (creating network effects), and allowing the site sponsor to expand the site’s functionality, collect lots of data about visitors, and monetize that traffic and data.
How does this translate to insurance technology?
- At its November Connections 2017 conference, Guidewire announced its goal to be a platform for the insurance industry. Key elements included unifying core systems, a digital front-end, and a data and analytics back-end; leveraging the cloud; and creating an open marketplace of partners. This announcement built on an early 2017 presentation to investors and financial analysts.
- In October 2017, IBM announced an insurance Industry Platform, built in collaboration with MetLife’s benefits group, and Majesco. The announcement highlighted a goal “. . . to dramatically improve traditional business models using deep industry expertise and advanced technologies such as AI, cloud and blockchain.”
- Also in October, Majesco announced Digital1st Insurance, which it “designed to be a digital engagement and microservices Platform as a Service for the entire insurance industry. It includes Digital1st EcoExchange, described as a plug and play environment for traditional and insurtech partners; and Digital1st Platform, a microservices platform bundled with insurance content.
Will these platforms be successful, and if they are, what will it mean for insurers and other insurance technology firms?
Like any other part of business, long-term success is achieved by providing value for both the seller and the buyer.
Platform providers want to create a rich ecosystem (facilitated by API libraries front-ending microservices) that attracts insurers, and providers of a broad array of services, data, and analytics. As the ecosystem gets broader and deeper, network effects become stronger. The value propositions for insurers include simplification, agility, and access to better data and analytics. The value propositions for the platform provider are revenue and the ability to build new kinds of service offering by itself and with platform partners.
2018 will be a critical year for these (and possibly other) platforms to gain momentum. If successful, they will significantly how insurance technology firms compete.