Event highlights: Emerging Ecosystems and Platforms for Insurance

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Missed the event or looking for a summary of what you heard? Read the details here or listen in on episodes 54 and 55 from the InsTech London podcast. 

Novidea & Salesforce
Ben Potts – Novidea UK Managing Director
Frederico Venturieri - Salesforce EMEA Financial Services GTM
In 2018 Salesforce Ventures invested in Novidea, a global broker management platform designed specifically for brokers, MGAs and insurers. Novidea currently services more than 14M+ policies in 16 countries. Corporate customers include Hyperion Insurance Group and Marsh
Ben Potts, “We build all of our platforms on Salesforce and focus on the things that Salesforce is good at - data analytics, workflow, and automating as much as we can. We're focused on the broker and MGA space and it's really important for us to be part of an ecosystem, such as Salesforce.” In September 2019 Salesforce launched their first insurance specific product, the Financial Services Cloud. Salesforce also operates AppExchange an “app store” for their products. 
Frederico Venturieri talked about the need for ecosystem partnerships. “As we try to penetrate the London market and commercial lines we need to work with all of you in the room in a partnership. It's a two-way discussion Sometimes it's the simple things that we do very well that we're able to help others with.”
Ciaran McCullagh - AVP Strategic Alliances
Conga is an Independent Software Vendor (ISV)  and part of the Salesforce ecosystem that provides end-to-end digital document transformation. The Conga Suite simplifies and automates data, documents, contracts, signing and reporting outcomes.
Ciaran McCullagh, “At Conga we take big data from Salesforce and create the whole range of documents used within the insurance industry, from anti-money laundering documents to invoices to quotes to contracts, working closely with complementary partners like Novidea and FinancialForce. It's a co-op.”
Ciaran also made the point that digitisation assists in regulatory adherence, version control, and is ecologically friendly. “Microsoft Word came out 40 years ago, and customers are still printing out the documents. For us, it's all about digitizing customers and moving them forward to the electronic standard.”
David Pinches - Marketing Director EMEA
David Pinches, “We work seamlessly with other ISVs, so for example when we work and supply alongside Conga, they assist with financial transactions that need to be digitized into documents: invoices, statements, debt chasing letters. They're all just flowed straight into this complementary technology, the ecosystem at work.”
FinancialForce, another ISV working within the Salesforce ecosystem delivers professional services automation, enterprise resource planning and financial management solutions. Founded in 2009, FinancialForce has 1,300 business services customers around the world.

In the second half of the evening, we heard from insurtech companies with many interwoven links in the platform ecosystem space. Speakers included Guidewire Software, AXA Partners, ICE InsureTech, Digital Matrix Systems and Riskbook.

Guidewire Software
Rene Schoenauer - Director, Product Solution Marketing, EMEA
Guidewire, a new InsTech London corporate partner, delivers a platform providing software, services and a partner ecosystem for insurers. Customers using the Guidewire InsuranceSuite with integrated London Market Messaging, include Lloyd’s syndicates and IUA-member companies.
Rene Schoenauer gave an example of how Guidewire fits into the platform ecosystem. “Rather than being competitors, we have a solid partnership with Salesforce. We built a close integration between our core systems and the Salesforce platform to have one unified front-end experience for users. For example, if an agent wants to start a quote in Salesforce he can directly work in the Salesforce user interface and then have the direct integration into the Guidewire policy administration or coding system.”
Whereas Novidea focus on MGAs and Brokers, Guidewire focuses on insurers. Guidewire has its own ecosystem of Independent Software Vendors which includes Betterview, an aerial telematics provider. Rene Schoenauer, “When it comes to really complex commercial insurance, telematics vendors like Betterview can provide data and inspections through drones and fill or feed this data directly into our claims platform.”
AXA Partners
Kelly Ward - Sales, Marketing and Distribution Director
AXA Partners, active across 33 countries, is an AXA transversal business unit offering a wide range of solutions in assistance services, travel insurance and credit protection. AXA Partners’ role is also to implement innovative solutions emerging from the AXA Innovation unit.
Kelly Ward is concerned less about platform ecosystems in the B2B space, and more the ecosystem of services and insights at the disposal of the insurance customer. He gives connected homes as a good example. “The home is now a really complex organism, lots of things need fixing. Historically we would only act if there was an event, but why don't we just do that anyway as a preventative measure? The ecosystem I'm thinking about is to benefit that person here and now, thinking about all the things they need to do in their life. Insurers and insurtechs can solve it.”
Kelly went on to describe the kinds of problems AXA Partners want solutions to. The home is a great example because there are often so many stakeholders involved in addressing damage, especially in a rental/landlord scenario. How can technology, asks Kelly, effectively knit these parties and actions together in a fluid user-friendly manner? There is also the matter of cost-effectiveness. What would the perfect connected home cost? "We talked to customers, priced it, and it was over £600. We then asked the same customers how much they were willing to pay for it - the answer was £127. How do we solve this disparity? We get better technology, better usability, at a cheaper price.”
AXA Partners are not short of insurtech start-ups approaches, summarised Kelly Ward. "They say to us, ‘Do you know you've got a problem?’ The answer is ‘Yes, we do, we've been dealing with that problem for quite some time’. I say to start-ups, tell us why it's a problem in the customer's eyes, tell us what solution you've got, tell us how it works commercially. Answer those points and you have our ear.”
ICE InsureTech
Andrew Passfield – CEO
Al Robertson – CTO
Founded in 2004, ICE InsureTech provides software to insurers, MGAs and accident management companies. The ICE products are enterprise-grade, modular digital software solutions for the management and processing of claims, policies, billing and rating, with integrated analytics. The ICE solution is IoT enabled, covering all lines of business across both personal and commercial insurance. ICE stands for Insurance Component Environment, and the company are part of the Acturis Group. ICE customers include Munich Re Digital Partners and AA Insurance Services.
Andrew Passfield on platform ecosystems, “It's about providing a service almost out-of-the-box with a number of providers, so customers don't need to go and build a direct relationship with company A and company B and company C. Through our platform and data/telematics ecosystem, we can act as a one-stop-shop.”
Andrew sees ecosystem interaction on two key levels – improve ICE’s own platform and customer utility, and also leveraging the infrastructure of what he calls ‘the big boys’, such as Google and Microsoft, the big cloud providers.
Digital Matrix Systems (DMS)
Mark Dreux - Head of Strategy and Business Development
Mark Dreux discussed insurtech ecosystems in the data analytics space, “We're trying to make it so that if there are 30 data sources out there the insurer wants to work with, we funnel it through one pipe. We take on connecting to all these different data sources. We try to normalise them so that when you're ingesting it, you're only connecting to one place. And when you're doing analytics on top of it, or when you're combing through it on the back end, you're always going to the same fields.”
Founded in 1982, Digital Matrix Systems (DMS) is helping clients leverage data to make better-informed business decisions. DMS helps financial services and insurance companies predict and manage risk. The company provides data access, storage, and analytics, delivering strategic solutions tailored to each client’s business goals in the underwriting space.
Asked about how to choose data sources, Mark Dreux talked about a new product launch called “Test Drive”, which enables insurers to do just that, with data. “It lets existing DMS clients and data sources test and takes the legal hurdle out. So we're trying to shorten the third-party processing that can get in the way and let insurers test data more quickly before they choose to buy it.”

Jerad Leigh & Ben Rose Co-Founders
Riskbook is a “hyperconnected reinsurance marketplace”, enabling underwriters and brokers to go beyond their personal networks to identify risks and capacity. With a global beta community guiding its feature pipeline and providing constant feedback to its developers, Riskbook is preparing to launch an efficient, secure and auditable way to place reinsurance risks in Q1 2020.
Jerad Leigh identifies two problems for brokers and underwriters - managing large placements with a lot of underwriters on them, and unique risks – these have historically meant reliance on personal networks in order to find the right capacity. Riskbook, says Jerad Leigh, is an ecosystem in terms of being a global reinsurance marketplace. “What we're primarily focused on is improving the working lives of brokers and underwriters around the world. We're starting to be  referred to as the Right Move for reinsurance and I think that analogy lends itself really nicely in the fact that an agent or a broker is now able to move beyond their shop window and create a digital risk that the world of buyers can seek out and sort and filter.”
Ben Rose also highlights a good example of how matching risk and underwriting, without platform assistance, can be imprecise and labour intensive. “As underwriters, we would constantly network and conference in the hope that someone would remember us and bring something we actually wanted, though that rarely happened - we normally took what we were given. With Riskbook you can search and filter to find the risks you're interested in.”

This event was sponsored by InsTech London corporate member Novidea and hosted by InsTech London partners Robin Merttens and Matthew Grant.

See more in our Emerging Ecosystems and Platforms for Insurance agenda.