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Although the insurance industry has a long history of building its own technology solutions, the pendulum has been firmly paused on the “buy” side of the “buy vs. build” spectrum for the last few years across most core application areas. Insurers are looking for proven solutions built by expert software development organizations that benefit from both the best practices created by serving a broad range of like customers as well as the support and R&D that external vendors can provide. Like the insurance carrier marketplace that it serves, the insurance technology vendor marketplace is large and diverse with more than 100 significant independent software vendors and portfolio players offering enterprise and stand-alone software products across multiple areas of insurance core systems. One of the most important inputs in evaluating technology products is current client experience. While technology and feature/functions are important, the critical question is how the product contributes to creating business value, and the best source of that information is current clients. The Novarica ACE Ranking Survey asks insurer executives to rank their degree of agreement or disagreement with 35 statements across the following five categories that relate to the delivery of business value: Staff, Organization, Functionality, Technology, and Overall Customer Satisfaction. Of those questions (which are listed online at http://www.novarica.com/acerankings.shtml), we’ve found the differences in responses to the following questions are most pronounced between those solutions that have the highest overall customer satisfaction and those with the lowest.

Vendor invests aggressively in improving technical performance through new releases and fixes. (Technology) This was the area with the largest spread between the high-satisfaction and low-satisfaction groups. It is something that is difficult to evaluate during a selection process and must be carefully researched through references and detailed questions into client experience. Continuous improvement is supposed to be one of the major advantages of a vended solution over an internally developed one.

I have great faith in vendor’s senior management and overall vision. (Organization) We see this as correlative rather than predictive. We hope insurers in the low-satisfaction group are reporting a loss of the faith they presumably had at the time of product selection, rather than a purchase of software from a team in which they had no faith at that time.

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