ITC DIA Europe

Mendix: Enabling Underwriting with Efficiency

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Dec 30, 2022

With data-powered insights, underwriters can optimize their processes and drive efficiency. Mendix helps insurers to create better software faster by providing an underwriting workbench built on a no-code low-code platform and infused with AI and machine learning. We sat down with Mendix’s Tim Srock (CEO) and Jethro Borsje (Chief Ecosystem Solutions Officer) and Peter Kuijvenhoven (Domain Lead Property & Casualty Insurances NL at Capgemini), to talk about trends they see in the insurance space – especially in underwriting, and how these challenges can be solved through application development and platforms.

Mendix is a Siemens business, specialized in enterprise application development. They bring expertise in terms of how to deliver rapid innovation, how to successfully effect change in your organization, and how to work in a natural way. And on top of that, they are an ecosystem enabler through their platform to actually provide you with that experience.

Tim, what do you see as some of the key challenges in insurance at the moment?

Tim: 1. The notion of legacy modernization and cloud migration: Having disparate systems is a challenge for all of us, and we have to think about how we overcome those in order to deliver the customer experience right. It’s not necessarily about the core system, it’s about the experience you’re delivering to your customers and how you differentiate from the competition.

2. The demand for digital-first: delivering those digital experiences. It is a huge business demand and you and your IT department need to cope with this.

3. Win the war for talent: How do you cope with the shortage on the developer side?

Peter, could you shed some light on the trends in underwriting, especially in property and casualty?

Peter: Everyone is talking about getting up and running after the pandemic, also insurance companies. They are focusing on growth, and profitability but also on being more efficient. The whole industry is looking at more data sources but they miss the workflow to do this. A lot of new knowledge and information is coming at you. Where there were interfaces in the past there are now services. They also need to capture this for compliance’s sake and that’s also a drag. Finally, there is a knowledge drain. My generation actually is stepping out and they had the knowledge in their heads, could make expert decisions and they could work it manually. Now they are leaving the companies and new people have to be found to do this work.

How can you solve this workflow configurability from a technology point of view? 

Jethro: These are fairly complex processes and they are solved by different insurers in different ways. So what we see is that there is commercial off-the-shelf software, which is not really fitting. The customers start to force themselves into that framework or they have to heavily customize core or commercial off-the-shelf systems which ends up not working. So, what we see is that there’s a high need for flexibility.

At Mendix, we want to provide our customers with templates. We don’t want to compromise on the value of having out-of-the-box functionality. But we also recognize that there is a high need to change these. With those templates, they can actually start to automate their underwriting processes and really configure and adapt those templates to their needs. It’s a template that you can really customize and configure to a high degree so you can make it unique to your processes, to your people, to the countries where you are active, or to the way your business works. But you can still leverage those out-of-the-box features. What we see in practice is that our customers really accelerate the degree and the speed at which they can automate these processes. It’s all about empowering the individuals to do it themselves.

Tim: You need to tap into that expertise that you already have in your organization because, in the end, the expertise doesn’t sit in IT. It sits actually with your business owner, the person in the line of business who has the knowledge in their head. And how do you capture that? There’s a huge gap right now between business and IT. From that perspective, it’s extremely important to empower your entire organization to participate in the process of innovation and competitive differentiation.

Can you shed some light on the people aspect?

Jethro: People who have lots of knowledge about how these processes work are now leaving the industry. You typically want to solve that by automating more or doing, for example, more decision support or intelligent automation. But for that, you need another group of scarce resources which are typically developers. What we try to do is to bring business users and our customers together with developers to really collaborate. But these specific developers can also be less technical. We try to make development easier. The people who work with our technology, are more business savvy and less technologically skilled, but well-versed in the area of collaboration and communication.

How do you create that unified view of your data landscape, and then expose that to the end user?

Jethro: Our customers want a custom underwriter’s experience and that requires a high degree of adaptability and configurability. But what they also want to do is to tap into all of their existing, but also new data sources. It’s all about creating software and business processes that are highly adaptable to change. We can integrate the data sources of our customers into their application landscape. We try to invest more and more in creating, for example, connectors to core backend systems. You can then compose your application by basically dragging and dropping these connections in configuring how you want to use the data and tapping that into your workflows basically. We want our customers to be able to compose these workflows in their underwriter’s workbench template, for example, and then really start to create a process that works for them, but also maybe change it or compose it differently. It’s all about this notion of composing how these workflows work and how these different elements interact together to really create that flexibility and also increase the speed at which you can automate these processes. So for us, composability is key, and that’s across the board.

Peter: In the past, building information was not really available. Now you have building information. You can get all the content, and you can have a lot of AI-driven information, and commercial services. You can adapt your flow to the products, but you can also have different sources per product. And the last thing that I would like to mention is the fact that you can store the information that you’ve used and that’s something that you need for your compliance in the end.

Jethro: And it’s not only about composing data sources, but also using AI or other packaged services which you can plug into your systems. Maybe you can train a system to learn how you make decisions and improve upon that. So it’s also composing in terms of reusable services and also auditing is a good point. For example, I have a service that is completely geared towards creating an audit trail underneath all of your applications so you know who’s chasing what and when and why. That’s one of those services we just include into an application if you want it, and then it’s added to that entire stack. It’s not only about being flexible by composing in terms of data but also in terms of real complete pieces of functionality. I think that’s important as well. 

Any closing words Tim?

Tim: It’s important to have the technology and that overarching platform that basically enables you to deliver a unified customer experience, but it’s also important to enable your workforce to have that employee experience. And then last but not least, it is about the ecosystem. It needs to be open and integrated in order to have the ability to differentiate. So let me give you three tips:

1. Derive more value from your core systems. Your business and IT department shouldn’t be busy with just the modernization piece. It’s about how you discover the data sitting in these core systems. How do you make it available to your experts in order to basically create these differentiators?

2. From there the next step is composability. This is both in terms of delivering this experience faster, but also having your organization collaboratively participate in that process of differentiation because in the end, out of the box is never out of the box in the first place. These elements that make you ‘different’, actually make you succeed in the marketplace and deliver that experience, which is expected in today’s world by customers.

3. You need a hyperconnected enterprise. It’s not just about your offering, but also about connecting third-party services which could be a rating engine or something like that, again, to differentiate. You need an open, integrated ecosystem in order to differentiate in a digital-first world.

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