Smart, capable technology decision makers know the insurance industry’s future is digital.

They know the insurer of the future will leverage innovative solutions that provide a complete view of the customer and create more nimble onboarding, underwriting, and claims processes. They embrace new technologies and deliver next-century service.

But they sometimes stumble when deciding what that digital future really looks like – and what foundation to build it on. The answer? A platform ecosystem.

A platform ecosystem is an industry or market structure in which a central software solution or stable core mediates the relationship between a wide range of complements, such as software applications and core software systems, and prospective end-users. It’s an ecosystem comprised of people, data, companies and processes connected by the shared use of digital platforms, according to Digital Trends’ Tom Hardin.

If you don’t know much about platform ecosystems, then we’ve got you covered. Here are five important things to know:

1. Everybody’s doing it

Both B2C and B2B companies are moving away from a traditional business structure and toward a platform ecosystem. This new wave is happening in part because customer experience and consumer interaction have become critical competitive differentiators for organizations in nearly every industry. It’s the move from pipes to platforms, writes Peter B. Nichol in his article Platform ecosystems: A new strategy for generating profit. “Today, success demands business leaders understand how platform-based ecosystems are reshaping traditional organization hierarchies and building new value,” he says.

2. They’re the perfect replacement for tired, old legacy systems

Legacy line-of-business systems often require special customization or coding to perform new tasks or satisfy user needs. The time, effort and maintenance needed to create these custom solutions can damage user experience and increase total cost of ownership over time. The right platform allows for rapid builds of low-code, content-enabled applications that anticipate business needs and customer expectations.

3. The platform provides access to the ecosystem

Though we say “platform ecosystem,” we’re really talking about two different things: solutions and ecosystems. The ecosystem is all of the stuff that lives outside your organization – information and unstructured data in other systems, for example. The right solution, like a content services platform, can access that information by seamlessly integrating with those other systems – as well as making it easy for other systems to integrate with the platform.

4. The cloud powers the ecosystem

As insurers focus more on building ecosystems by connecting multiple systems together, those same organizations are increasingly looking for platforms they can deploy in the cloud. Doing so alleviates the burden of in-house maintenance and storage and addresses a wide variety of challenges, like disaster recovery, data availability, cost savings and security. And for many insurers, moving to the cloud provides much more than cost savings and stress reduction. It can act as a “business transformation accelerator,” according to Forrester1.

5. You get a complete view of the customer

Core insurance systems, like Guidewire InsuranceSuite, are built to effectively manage business-specific capabilities for underwriting, billing, and claims across multiple clients, with more basic capabilities for specialized areas like content management. Insurers who want to optimize content management often rely on a dedicated solution for handling content like documents, forms, notes, emails and video. Once integrated with a content services platform, information flows seamlessly from system to solution throughout the ecosystem, making it easier to access the information required to make faster decisions, manage processes and provide a great customer experience.

Building a robust platform ecosystem, whether it’s by integrating Hyland content services with Guidewire InsuranceSuite and growing from there, or through other collaborative technology partnerships, helps you to deliver new products to the market faster. It gives you a complete view of the insured, and arms your employees with the tools to become trusted advisers to your customers.

Ready to learn more about platform ecosystems? Download The future is digital. Are you prepared? Hyland, Guidewire and the platform ecosystem.

1Cloud Powers The Modern Adaptive Enterprise, Dave Bartoletti with Glenn O’Donnell, Liz Herbert, John R. Rymer, Jenny Thai, and Diane Lynch, October 11, 2019