The global insurance industry has embarked on a journey to go digital. For the last several years, there has been considerable business value creation as a result of digital transformation initiatives undertaken by forward-looking carriers leveraging disruptive technology inventions. Insurers are willing to embrace newer business operating models that help to achieve both, superior digital customer experience and digital operational excellence.
At the heart of any digital transformation is digital engineering. Today, digital engineering as a process has become considerably enriched. Moving away from the traditional software development process, a faster, efficient and new way of working has been gaining acceptance widely. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly has changed that promises to make digital engineering more efficient and exciting at the same time!
Going digital with DevOps
One of the most popular topics in the context of digitization of any enterprise today is DevOps. DevOps, as an organizational and cultural rethink, speeds up IT Operations through Continuous Development, Continuous Testing, Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Monitoring.
Over the course of time, most organizations have already shifted from traditional waterfall model of developing software to an agile model. DevOps takes it a step further. It automates each stage leveraging on a wide variety of tools right from source code management (Git, SVN) to build (Maven, Ant, Gradle), testing (Selenium, JUnit), Integration (Jenkins), Deployment (Puppet, Chef, Ansible) and Monitoring ( NewRelic, Sensu, Nagios).
DevOps scores high on the cognitive aspect - e.g. once a new piece of code is introduced, many automated checks run, right from code check-in till deployment and production, ensuring quality is maintained throughout, and the speed of execution is high. This happens because it is one seamlessly integrated and managed flow rather than activities being handled by disjointed dev, test, build, deploy, operations teams. DevOps also makes possible continuous monitoring of the software that gets developed.
How relevant is DevOps for the insurance industry in particular and what benefits can it bring for the carriers today? The answer lies in understanding how IT solutions have evolved for insurers.
Role of DevOps in the insurance industry
For years together, carriers got bogged down by heavy-weight product implementations, core suite upgrades, extensive data warehousing projects, SOA/BPM Implementations etc. Many struggled with high levels of effort, yet failed implementations with serious risk and cost implications, and therefore developed a certain reservation for IT innovation.
When the tides started turning, thanks to InsurTech, the prospect of value based IT implementations were revisited. From long drawn implementations, the focus shifted to building relatively lightweight solutions with much shorter implementation cycles and even quicker pilots. Technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, Chatbots, Conversational AI, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, IoT and Cloud, etc. opened doors for frequent technical experiments with the zeal to quickly build working prototypes that would complement the core systems and fetch a faster ROI. While the nature of solutions that are envisaged today is changing – it is equally important that the basic foundation of development of these kind of IT assets and delivery of new digital services does not form a bottleneck to the whole innovation paradigm. This is precisely where DevOps brings value to the insurance industry that needs speed and agility today.
Insurers realize that the biggest business problem is the lost opportunity for not executing business service delivery with enough quality and speed compared to the competition. DevOps is essential to being able to deliver digital services at speed and with quality, thereby making it a foundational element of successful digital transformation.
Interestingly, multiple factors are jointly contributing to the growing appetite for DevOps. While the end customers are becoming more ‘digitally engaged’, cloud space, especially the platform-as-a-service offerings are maturing fast. Carriers have the right opportunity today to take advantage of this scenario to effectively provision newer digital assets and seamlessly keep delivering the experience to their customers. In the process, they are also achieving business stability, often eliminating necessary evils like downtime due to new features rollout.
Further to DevOps, another interesting advancement is DevSecOPs, which brings in the concept of security conformance earlier in the lifecycle of application development, thereby minimizing vulnerabilities better than before. By embedding security in each phase of the development process, organizations can accelerate the launch of robust business applications. Security functions like identity and access management, firewalling, and vulnerability scanning are some of the relatively easier picks that can be considered to start with.
DevOps and DevSecOps together have the potential to give a solid head-start to future IT development and innovation endeavors that will benefit the insurance industry.