IBM’s Insurance Platform was designed with input from MetLife.MetLife, IBM, and insurance software provider Majesco have teamed up to create the IBM Insurance Platform, a cloud-computing service specifically designed for the insurance industry. The platform combines cognitive computing and data analytics to help insurers develop new products and tailor current products to individual clients.
In a statement announcing the service, Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of IBM Industry Platforms, said that it will incorporate advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain. MetLife’s EVP and Head of Global Technology and Operations Marty Lippert added that the collaboration with IBM underscores the urgency for every insurer to “become a technology company in order to survive.”
IBM and MetLife plan to initially market the platform to MetLife’s small business customers. From it, MetLife customers and brokers can select from a menu of employee benefit packages, including life, dental, vision, disability, voluntary and other group products.
MetLife’s Chief Information Officer Dave Ditillo told the Triangle Business Journal in Raleigh, North Carolina that the insurer partnered with IBM to expand its digital capabilities as well as its customer base. Through the platform, MetLife aims to create a “highly personalized and targeted experience” from the purchase through customer service.
Reaching for the Cloud
By migrating to a Cloud-based computing platform, insurers can reduce or eliminate the need to build and maintain their own expensive IT infrastructure. Since data and other software applications are stored in the Cloud and not on the insurer’s premises, insurers can scale up their technology networks without having to invest in new in-house servers.
Cloud-based programs also offer remote access to data and programs from desktop computers as well as tablets and smartphones — an advantage to insurance agents working in the field, since agents can call up information and analyze data anywhere.
Three basic types of Cloud-based platforms are available to insurers: private, public, or hybrid. Private Cloud solutions are typically hosted and run by an organization with its own data center. In a public Cloud-based platform, an outside provider manages the data center where a number of companies store their data. A hybrid Cloud solution blends both public and private Cloud platforms by storing sensitive data in a private Cloud setup while using a public Cloud for other applications.
According to a research study from McAfee, the vast majority (73%) of insurance companies use a hybrid Cloud system. The percentage of insurers on solely a private Cloud platform came in at 18%, while only 9% operate a public-only Cloud network.
In a blog on Insurance Innovation Reporter, Michael J. de Waal, the founder of software solutions provider Global IQX, emphasizes that insurers must evaluate the pros and cons of each Cloud-computing option and choose whichever system best suits its operations. He also points out that insurers have special considerations when choosing a Cloud-based platform. “Insurance regulation might restrict the geographical location where personal information can be stored,” he writes. “In some cases, data could be stored initially in a location that is acceptable for the insurer but could be moved, in emergency situations, in other locations that are not permitted by regulation.”
de Waal also cautions that a multi-tenant Cloud platform could be less secure, since the “hypervisor,” or the machine that hosts other virtual servers, “could be compromised by one guest, leaving other guests exposed.”
IBM notes that its insurance platform contains extensive security features while allowing users can to add regulatory compliance data and third-party software. Despite these precautions, insurance organizations using a Cloud-based service should take security actions of their own, Edgar Germer, Risk Control Technology Specialist at OneBeacon Technology Insurance, writes in Business Insurance.
Such measures include establishing a security policy, an attack response plan, and getting all employees involved in protecting sensitive data, Germer writes. “Applying identity management,” he stresses, “and other security measures, including malicious code detection, through the Cloud is more convenient and reduces consumption of limited processing capability on mobile devices.”