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Here is the release to launch the findings for the latest research report from BYLINE.
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24th July 2001 - Perceived technical barriers bedevil efforts by UK insurance companies to take full advantage of ebusiness, according to a new survey unveiled this week by e-business solutions provider iE (www.ie.com).
The financial services software specialist said that while attitudes to ebusiness have matured over the past two years and few insurers remain to be convinced of its benefits, typical companies do less than 5% of their business online and most have failed to tackle the technical problems that are holding the market back.
The survey of 30 of the country’s biggest insurers, carried out on iE’s behalf by Byline Research, found two-thirds to be offering one or more ebusiness services. Most now offer some form of online quotation service either direct to customers via the Internet or through brokers and agents over extranets. Also commonplace are online access to policy schedules for customers and business administration tools for intermediaries.
The report warns that despite encouraging signs of progress, services remain very limited.
Terri Sheperdigian, Head of Insurance, iE, said: “The biggest benefits to insurers and their customers will come from straight-through processing – the ability to link online applications directly into all the back-office systems that support the business. Without this facility, it’s impossible to take a consolidated view of the customer or to offer the range of financial services required to win new business.”
Around half the companies in the survey (47%) do not provide any kind of online connection into their back-office systems, and only a third have integrated two or more systems in support of ebusiness.
Technology integration problems top the list of barriers to straight-through processing, closely followed by lack of ebusiness implementation skills.
Sheperdigian said: “Two years ago, business issues were as significant as technical ones in explaining low uptake of ecommerce. Most of the business questions surrounding regulation and the impact of ebusiness on intermediaries have been addressed, but the technical questions are still looking for answers.”
Concerns about the impact of legal and regulatory constraints and about upsetting delicate relationships with brokers, both of which figured strongly in the Byline/iE 1999 survey, have fallen to the bottom of the list of issues, the new report claims.
“The industry has moved on significantly, both in terms of levels of investment and attitudes to ebusiness,” Sheperdigian said. “But until they solve the system integration part of the puzzle, they will be unable either to realise the massive potential for cost savings or to add the value necessary to gain and retain customers.
“Competitive advantage is a moving target, so insurers need integration platforms flexible enough to allow new applications and levels of service to be added in future at reasonable cost and with minimal risk. The insurance industry has invested many years and countless millions in developing some very good back-office applications. Vendors who tell them to throw it all away and start again are missing the point. What insurers need is the ability to unlock the asset value of these systems and reinvest it in customer or broker-centric applications that offer true differentiation.”
Readers can obtain the above report by contacting Sally Grandige, 0208 614 9851
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NOTES TO EDITORS
iE is the market leading supplier of e-business application products for the cards, wealth management and insurance markets, enabling our customers to quickly generate new business, improve customer service and reduce costs. The award winning iE NetFinance family integrates with existing customer relationship management, workflow and back-office systems to provide a seamless online apply, selling and servicing environment. Based in London, UK and Boston, USA, the company distributes its products in 20 countries and has sold over 10,000 licenses worldwide. Founded in 1985, iE is a public company, quoted on the London Stock Exchange (AIM) as IEN.
Further information is also available at http://www.ie.com
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