Tapping The Internets Potential, E-Outsourcing Cuts Costs And Risks
Businesses across almost every industry have rapidly adopted Internet-based technology to differentiate themselves from competitors. Internet-based applications for marketing, e-commerce, and customer support have made it easier for companies to compete and reach a huge market that knows no geographical boundaries.
The insurance industry is no exception to this trend. Certainly, the stampede to create a presence on the Internet in the last five years has given the insurance industry a taste of the technologys potential. Carriers are testing the waters today with marketing-driven Web sites and, in some cases, basic customer or agent-support services.
But the true value of the Internet is just beginning to be recognized–outsourcing Web-based applications through application service providers (ASPs).
Carriers originally took advantage of outsourcing operations to reduce costs and lower the risks of hosting certain business processes in-house. By outsourcing non-differentiating operations, such as human resources, payroll, financial management, and other systems, carriers could focus more on their core competencies while relieving themselves of the high costs and risks associated with developing, running and supporting business systems in house.
Now, a new breed of outsourcer, the ASP, is tapping the Internets potential with new, Internet-based e-outsourcing.
In e-outsourcing, like traditional outsourcing, ASPs help lower a companys risk and costs by hosting the technology platform for the carriers business operations. Company employees connect to the ASP using a standard Web browser to run the necessary business applications.
ASPs with a proven track record can provide carriers with high-quality solutions that can be quickly deployed, are highly scalable, and have a high degree of availability. Carriers can also take advantage of subscription or “pay-as-you-go” pricing options.
Yet, ASPs capabilities go far beyond traditional outsourcing capabilities. Before the Internet, it was nearly impossible to communicate and collaborate outside a companys walls or private wide area network. Thanks to the Internets platform independence and far-reaching network, it is now possible for all process stakeholders–employees, agents, the insured, and suppliers–to access Internet-based applications using a standard Web browser. They need not be concerned about the underlying technology platform, software or physical location.
In fact, the Internet is a new channel for essential business operations, serving as a virtual, but common, application infrastructure for insurers. The Internet as a networking platform allows carriers to e-outsource virtually every operation, from back office and workflow systems to front office, outreach, and customer service–and all without significant investments in hardware, software, deployment time or IT personnel.
As companies start using the Internet more for business operations, ASPs can show what is possible to achieve using Internet-based technology. Insurers are then free to expand their horizons and to think about “what could be” rather than being limited by “what is.”
Although just the tip of the iceberg, ASP-delivered insurance applications that help spark thoughts of “what could be” might include: