Content in the cloud should be the insurance sector's only policy
By Tim Hood, Hyland
The insurance industry, like many sectors this year, has faced one overriding issue: how to access information remotely when it is locked away in an inaccessible local server-based application or a physical filing cabinet in an office that is out of bounds?
For insurance firms that had not previously appreciated the magnitude of this particular challenge, going through various lockdown periods and social distancing restrictions clearly demonstrated on-premises systems create a high degree of vulnerability when you are largely dependent on them.
This has forced many to rethink their core model, not only to accommodate the changing way employees need to interact with business information but also to ensure future business continuity by embracing cloud working. This means including remote working in their operating model and migrating their business processes away from on-premises servers and on to the cloud.
Many firms have, of course, already begun the process as part of a wider digital transformation strategy and so are already enjoying the benefits of the cloud: reduced costs, improved return on investment, efficiency gains, minimal maintenance and universal access. For them, the question is more: “What should we do next?”
Making the most of content
The answer is to shift the focus towards making the best use of what is now probably an organisation’s most valuable asset: content.
What that means in practice is using a cloud-based content services system to aggregate and integrate information from different sources, far removed from disparate departmental repositories, becoming part of an organisation-wide information platform.
Immediately this gives any authorised user, whatever the business unit or department, access to all the documents, images, analytics and user-generated content they need to do their job more effectively.
For insurance firms that had not previously appreciated the magnitude of this particular challenge, going through various lockdown periods and social distancing restrictions clearly demonstrated on-premises systems create a high degree of vulnerability when you are largely dependent on them
Managing this kind of content flow between applications is only possible using the cloud, as on-premises legacy systems simply cannot keep up, given the speed with which technology and governance standards continue to evolve.
Particularly in a regulated industry, such as insurance, where large, mature applications and repositories remain on-premises, migrating these to a cloud content services platform allows key operational functions, including security, functionality, accessibility and maintenance, to be supported by specialist external service providers.
Now viability and service levels are as important, if not more so, than features and functions, for confidence and reassurance the chosen provider should have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the sector and a track record of success in cloud-based systems and apps. And if they can also offer sector-specific governance, including risk and compliance support and services, so much the better.
Robust and scalable solutions
And since hyper-agility and scalability will increasingly be keys to success, they should offer innovative solutions that are not only robust but easily scalable. You will want to know their system architectures have the elasticity to handle the demands of what is a highly dynamic enterprise environment, where the growth in data volumes continues to accelerate.
Against the backdrop of risk and compliance, evidence of third-party assured annual service organisation control audits, regular internal reviews and ongoing penetration and vulnerability testing are all factors to look out for.
Given the unpredictable operating environment facing firms, running core business applications internally is no longer sustainable for any organisation that is striving to minimise downtime and data loss.
This means recognising the fundamental importance of the effective cloud delivery of content not just in terms of productivity but also as an essential component for business survival.
Tim Hood is associate vice-president, Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Hyland