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While leading Accenture’s life insurance software practice, Tom Famularo and John Gorman realized that the insurance industry which once was an early adopter of technology, had gradually lost the thrill of endeavoring emerging technologies to improve business operations. Even in the present day, when there is an acute need to take a giant leap to the digital world, companies are hesitant to implement new technologies and be innovative. Reports from Gartner and PwC suggest that if insurance companies don’t get innovative, within a short span of four to five years, they will lose a significant share of their business to the nimble and agile competitors. Now, the million-dollar question here is ‘why’ are insurance carriers reluctant in trying new technologies, even in this critical situation? Why did the insurance companies stop being innovative? “In 2009, we decided to get back to the roots to find the answer to that ‘why’,” says Famularo. With deep digging came out the harsh reality of the insurance industry—its incumbents’ core legacy systems had become intensely complex because of disparate technologies being patched together. This layering of technologies casts a huge risk and long-term effect on a company, including wasted time and loss of money. Moreover, the continuous insertion of additional layers of technology had ‘chipped away’ IT structures of the insurance companies at the edges, making them fall behind the wave of innovation. And the traditional approaches to digital transformation having had high failure rates, fueled organizations’ skepticism in laying wagers on any new technology. At the moment, all that the insurance companies require is a safe entry into the digital world with the right foundation in place and the right core system to future-proof themselves.
Based on what unfolded as the answer to that ‘why’, Famularo laid the building blocks of FAST to get a grip on those issues and bring insurers into fast-tracked digital transformation. “As I wanted to get technology focused to solve the intrinsic problems in the insurance industry, I introduced it to the FAST world where there is no uncertainty of the viability of implementing a new technology and maintaining it while getting on the transformation flight,” says the CEO. Now, with FAST, insurers can update and modernize their core legacy systems without endless customizations and forced amalgamation of mismatching technologies. The company is uniquely positioned to do so because of its unique architecture and componentized approach that allows companies to replace and augment only the core legacy systems that require immediate attention and reestablish the core system when necessary. FAST offers a comprehensive suite of business process-driven software components that deliver targeted as well as end-to-end solutions. Using FAST Insurance Components—developed on SOA framework in concert with FAST Technology Platform, which is a software automation engine and product manufacturing framework—insurers can create and integrate new business capabilities and technologies within their enterprise architecture.
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Utilizing FAST’s flexible underlying technology, companies can now satisfy the needs of the next generation customers and distribution expectations with faster and better products. Unlike the rigid systems that were solely built for one particular operation like policy administration or commission management, the company’s platform gives insurers real business advantage by providing end-to-end functionality which intertwines business processes such as workflow processing, policy management, transaction processing, and claims management.
Agility is the Key
FAST pioneers a new model which dramatically lowers the risk and gets companies into production within 12 weeks. Gorman and Famularo exhibit in-depth experience in the insurance sector and ensures that customers can use FAST’s software out of the box and leverage agile development concepts. The company first maps the targeted business processes that support a client’s digital strategy and accordingly proceeds for a rapid, agile, and lean approach to implement the core system. This not only includes getting the new product up and running and supporting its full lifecycle but also fusing new applications seamlessly into the existing application. FAST then uses machine learning to gather metrics and follows its SLA-driven approach to implement the workflows and perform additional integration, if any, to meet the client’s target volumes over time. The secret sauce in the company’s software that supports this capability is its 100 percent configurable business and product logic, which means it can be built, extended or changed without writing code. The software’s configuration is such that it anticipates necessary processes to meet the core needs; by forecasting the needs which are later documented, scripted, and structured, the product management tools allow for rapid product configuration and testing. FAST also has pre-configured majority of features for every relevant product type, leaving only the attributes unique to companies and their products to be configured during use.
Wrapped with all these functionalities, the company’s software can be easily integrated with the clients’ existing system as FAST’s SOA is truly componentized to incorporate both micro- and macro-level services, designed for instant plug and play. Finally, the company’s ability to deploy it in the cloud reduces the need for extensive IT involvement, speeds things up, and creates a cheaper, more scalable environment. “In the true sense of agile development and agile thinking, our idea is to empower insurers to utilize the software as fast as possible,” says Famularo.
“We deliver immediate value to our customers by reducing the overall risk and shifting much of that to us,” asserts Gorman. Despite the promise of the software, some people still think, it looks “too good to be true”. As per its value proposition, FAST prices its software in such a way that it takes a significant amount of remaining risk off the table.
Unlike most companies that charge a large perpetual license amount upfront, FAST’s pricing model is that of a monthly subscription which can be canceled at any point in time. The company amortizes the initial setup cost to implement FAST’s system, alongside configuring and validating users’ product and associated end-to-end processing. FAST ensures that the products are up and running in the target environment and provides complete support for their integration. Customers can also upgrade the software easily at minimal cost. “We are willing to put our money where our mouth is and take most of the financial risk away from our clients because we are confident of our solutions and approach,” he stresses.
FAST archives numerous customer success scenarios that showcase the efficiency of the firm’s solutions and the promise they extend to the insurance industry. In the past two years, the company has brought eight customers into production, getting them live in less than ten months. To highlight FAST’s swiftness and agility in process improvement, Gorman elaborates the company’s association with one of its recent clients. The CIO of the company wanted to bring FAST’s system onboard to be integrated with their environment, and their digital portal for a brand new product. The executive team could not believe when the CIO informed them that with FAST it takes just three months to take the software live with a new product, new distribution channel, and fully integrated into their environment. To them, it sounded impossible because bringing any new system onboard typically takes approximately 18 to 24 months. “It is not the value that they got by having the software up and running in the shortest period, but it was the confidence that the CIO was able to build with his executive team,” says Gorman. Further, the CIO was able to extrapolate the time required to replace the existing core system and expand the company’s products on top of FAST’s platform.
"We are willing to take most of the financial risk away from our clients because we are confident of our solution and approach"
The company’s software is built with the motive to ensure that once companies implement FAST’s platform and make a leap, they don’t require to do any further cross mechanism. Once onboard with FAST, companies can continuously keep upgrading the software and legacy-proofing their technology. From being bootstrapped in 2009 to becoming a giant in the industry today, FAST has come a long way within a short period, but Famulro has no plans to slow down. He believes that the company has still not created enough value to transform the industry and needs to keep working hard to get to the next level.
“My philosophy has always been to establish a win-win relationship, whether it is with customers, employees, offshore partners, or investors.” To create this win-win situation, the company constantly strives to create an amazing value proposition that generates economic value in everything they do. “We are already working toward enhancing our software, infrastructure, and delivery processes to create stronger success stories in the next two to three years that would captivate larger businesses,” concludes Famularo.