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Transformational ECM IV: Insurance and Financial Services

March 2, 2011

I’m in the middle of a series on organizational transformation that focuses on how enterprise content management (ECM) should be seen less in terms of technology, process, compliance, or risk management, and instead as a powerful force for transformational change at organizations.

In recent posts, I’ve taken a close look at how ECM is transforming health payers, mining companies, and consumer packaged goods (CPG) organizations. In this post, I want to continue my industry focus with a set of verticals that have traditionally been the mainstay of ECM: property and casualty/life insurance and financial services (FS).

Early adopters

Most insurance and FS firms have been doing ECM for a long time now and tend to have mature capabilities around core ECM capabilities, i.e., enabling paperless, straight through processing of high-volume transactions (think insurance claims, bank account openings, or credit card payment processing).

But the kinds of challenges that we saw affecting CPG organizations in the last post are affecting insurance and financial services as well, i.e., how to leverage the wealth of customer, employee, and product data now available to them via social media and collaboration channels. Over the last 18 months, their ECM needs have been shifting in response, creating the opportunity to gain competitive advantage for those firms that lead the charge into what elsewhere I’ve called second wave ECM.

Old challenges and some new ones

Some of the challenges insurance and FS firms continue to face (despite being early adopters of ECM technologies) are as old as the hills, particularly those around customer communication management:

  • What mode of communication is best suited for any given customer?
  • How can we communicate with our customers to increase their use of our products and services?
  • Can we use customer communications to increase the use of our higher-margin products and services while decreasing the use of our lower-margin ones?
  • Can we manage the way we communicate with our customers to lower our print and mail costs?
  • Can we manage the way we communicate with our customers to lower our operating costs?

But as formidable as these are, a whole host of new challenges have cropped up, primarily around social media and collaboration:

  • How do we keep pace with the increasing demands of customers for Web 2.0 interactions while remaining compliant with laws and regulations?
  • How do we keep pace with the increasing demands of our workforce for Enterprise 2.0 capabilities while remaining compliant with laws and regulations?
  • How do we leverage social media and collaboration to gain competitive advantage (or at least keep from getting lapped by the competition)?

Broad ECM solution areas

Although ECM isn’t a panacea for the challenges facing insurance and FS firms, there are a number of areas where ECM can help:

  • Customer Communication Management (CCM) – by improving the way insurance and FS firms create and deliver communications to consumers and producers (brokers/agents)
    • Automation of the authoring process
    • Multi-channel delivery of content (“write once, publish many”)
    • Print suppression
  • Records Management – by addressing over-retention to reduce the amount of likely discoverable content
    • Less content needs to be put through the discovery pipeline in the first place
    • Faster and easier to pull back initial data set required by a litigation event
    • Fewer “smoking guns” lurking out there
  • Storage Management – by reducing the volume of content stored on systems and applications to enable more agile IT delivery
    • Less budget spent on storing content that has passed it’s legal and operational usefulness – can be applied to new development that increases organizational capacity to respond to marketplace demands
    • Easier to implement, update, or sunset systems and applications
  • Collaboration/Adaptive Case Management (ACM) – by introducing automation efficiencies into knowledge worker processes
    • Increase knowledge worker capacity
    • Reduce timelines for delivery of work products

Real-world examples

Insurance and FS firms are tackling challenges in these ECM solution areas in a wide variety of ways. But here are a few examples of initiatives I’ve seen in my travels at these kinds of organizations:

  • Implementing a producer community to facilitate knowledge and expertise sharing among brokers or agents (or both)
  • Moving off of shared drives and onto a more robust document management system (from SharePoint to a “big” ECM platform like Open Text, IBM P8, or EMC Documentum)
  • Deploying reusable SharePoint templates (with records management and compliance requirements baked in) to meet common business needs across the organization
  • Enabling web self-service and mobile delivery, suppressing paper communications
  • Reducing the number of correspondence templates in use, streamlining/automating the correspondence authoring process
  • Centralizing the management of off-site paper storage to reduce the amount of documents sent to storage facilities, cut monthly storage costs, reduce legal risk associated with maintaining warehouses full of likely discoverable paper records that are past their retention periods

The final word

The challenges I’ve outlined here make life difficult for insurance and FS organizations, but they present great opportunities as well. Those firms that tackle them first will gain a significant competitive advantage: they’ll improve not only how they interact with their customers, but also their partners and employees as well, attract and retain more of the brightest young employees, and develop deeper customer loyalty for their products and services (and ultimately their brand).

In the next post, I want to turn to an industry that’s been growing like gangbusters in the last few years: for-profit education. Led by global firms like Apollo and Kaplan, it’s been transforming the face of higher education in the U.S. and across the globe. But with that growth come some substantial challenges, and as we’ll see, ECM can help these firms meet them.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Neville Letzerich permalink
    March 3, 2011 8:05 am

    Great series, Joe. For the next post, Apollo uses EMC Documentum for case and content management. Happy to provide details if you need them.

  2. March 7, 2011 12:57 pm


    Thanks not only for the kind words, but for the offer of sharing some of your experiences with Documentum at Apollo. Send me a good email to reach you at through my contact info on this site or LinkedIn, and we’ll connect.

    Looking forward to it!



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