Time to Disappear?

These days too many of the best minds in software are devoting their energies to winning and retaining your attention. Getting their products noticed in all today’s noise.

Our product wants not to be noticed.

The things that work best are often those you don’t see. Examples from everyday life include the electricity grid, the drinking water system, the internet.

 

Europeans have become used to crossing borders without any friction. This is due to hard-won behind-the-scenes alignment on trade, tariffs, goods’ standards, freedom of movement and more. Invisible admin.

The jolt of Brexit re-awakens the prospect of long lines, form-filling, inspections, delays and fees. Visible admin.

Which of these two scenarios better describes insurance administration today?

The symptoms of visible admin are all around us:

  • A decision is delayed due to batch cycles or unavailable information.
  • An admin user struggles with the cognitive burden of navigating multiple systems and screens.
  • A claimant is made to wait while their identity and eligibility are confirmed.
  • An experienced knowledge worker wastes time on low-value activities.
  • A customer is asked a second time for information they have already provided.
  • A new admin team member requires two years to master a complex and high-risk-error environment.

Technology in particular is at its best when it is invisible. When we aren’t even made to feel like users. Invisible technologies don’t require you to use them. They work in the background, solving for hidden costs: coordination costs, integration costs, security costs, compliance costs, leakage costs. Although these costs are hidden, they are not small. They go some way to explaining our industry’s high expenses.

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What does Invisible Admin for insurance look like?

1.      Invisible Admin… Automates

Automated processes just happen. And they happen in a way that is accurate, compliant and consistent.

They create headspace for knowledge workers.

While this is unfinished business in our industry, progress is being made.

The mental frame has evolved from speeding up parts of human-driven processes to ‘automation first’, with the humans called upon only by exception.

Invisible Admin “knows what’s next” joining the dots between what would otherwise be isolated pockets of automation for a true end-to-end result. The receipt of new information via the portal causes a benefit amount to be re-calculated, which causes an overpayment scenario, which causes offset creation, which triggers automated correspondence, which…

2.      Invisible Admin… Is Real-Time (for Everyone)

From the customer’s perspective, real-time means “tell me now” and it means “don’t ask me again”.

Information, entered once, shows up everywhere. No delays, hand-offs or holding patterns.

A topic for a whole other blog, but the hidden enabler is a subject-oriented information architecture, spanning all functions. It does the hard yards of re-centralizing customer data into a single record, trusted for internal and external sharing.

3.      Invisible Admin… Knows no Borders

The National Health Service in the UK recently bemoaned the productivity lost due to its people having to touch up to 14 systems in the course of their daily job.

Invisible Admin enables a natural navigation that follows the service conversation. From a customer record to the parent group, to bills, to case histories, to correspondence and back.

This removal of borders enables automation to “hop fences”.

And it creates a broader canvas to support flexible staffing and service models by freeing people from departmental system silos.

4.      Invisible Admin… Goes to Source

Invisible Admin bypasses the air gaps that otherwise bring core processes to an uncertain halt when third party inputs are required.

It disappears the familiar (and tiresome) pattern of outreach, formatting, transmission, re-formatting, system entry, etc., by reaching out directly to those third parties. Whether those sources are humans reached by self-service portals or systems reached by connectors, it surfaces its capabilities where needed to keep processes flowing. At zero mental cost for users

5.      Invisible Admin… Embraces the Mess

Traditional core systems lurked in the recesses of the back office, sensitive beasts that could only be fed data in just the right format at just the right time.

The real world is messy.

Invisible Admin systems are out there in the current, engaging directly with periodic, as well as power, users, accepting out-of-cycle or incomplete updates and using them to push processes forward as far as they can.

The expanded reach displaces the ungovernable chaos of shadow IT, removing physical and cognitive clutter. (One insurer we spoke with had inventoried over 100 user developed applications in its claims department).

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McKinsey estimates that the life insurance industry is overdue a 35% structural cost reduction, in line with gains made by other industries. They criticised existing cost-cutting programmes for not being ambitious enough, often targeting reductions of just 10-15%. The industry talks about the transformative power of digital and data but has yet to deliver.

Invisible Admin is an ambitious North Star, but it is not only achievable – it is inevitable.

Carriers will win in many ways but the real winner will be the insured. And lower prices will create more of them, which is good for everyone.

Time to disappear?