A guide for insurance brokers
If you’ve read and understood the Celent 8-tier cloud migration model, you probably want to work out how to reach your cloud migration goals. In this article, we summarize the best advice on how to do just that from fast-growing broking group SRG, software provider and consultancy Web Connectivity, and insurance industry analyst Craig Beattie from Celent.
Firstly, if you aren’t familiar with Celent’s 8-tier cloud migration model, check out our previous article.
Then you’ll understand the different cloud technology terminology being used in the market. You’ll get a much clearer idea of where your business currently is on your cloud migration journey – and a much better sense of where you want to be.
Having done that, this article sets out 10 steps to help you reach those goals:
Step 1: Be 100% clear about where you are now
Are you still running on-premise software on your servers and machines? Have you just moved into the cloud using applications designed for on-premise?
Just because you’re using aspects of Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Salesforce doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cloud-native. You might only be using a fraction of that cloud provider’s functionality.
Again, check out our previous article The 8 Tiers of Cloud Migration For Brokers in 2021 if you’re unsure. Or read our ebook The 8 Tiers of Cloud Migration for CIOs, COOs and IT Directors if you want to go deeper into some of the technical aspects and questions to ask.
Step 2: Work out your business goals
Do you want your brokers to be able to access the data they need from anywhere and on any device? Or to make working from home smoother and more secure in a post-Covid world?
As Keith Bucknall, IT and Projects Director at London-based broking group SRG says: “My personal mission is not to have anything in any of our offices that means we’re tied to any location.”
He added that SRG was able to cope with remote working without any interruption to the business. All thanks to the group’s cloud migration over the previous two years.
Some brokers want to improve productivity or cut operating costs. Others want instant access to business intelligence in real-time so they can launch new products to market ahead of their competitors.
Larger brokers might want to streamline systems inherited via acquisitions. Smaller brokers might want to not have to worry about maintaining a large in-house IT staff.
Step 3: Decide what functionality you need to support those goals
Do you want the peace of mind that all your staff are always on the latest version of the software, regardless of location?
Perhaps you want your employees to be able to use APIs and micro-services in a dev-ops environment?
Would you prefer a multi-cloud environment to deal with issues of data residency in different territories? Or maybe you’d just prefer not to be reliant on a single cloud environment.
Or perhaps you’d enjoy a single cloud environment, which tends to offer an easy configuration with minimal coding and less hassle maintaining a large in-house IT resource.
Step 4: Get a full picture of the IT infrastructure in your business
You probably have a mix of different systems, legacy and new, some on-premise and some part in the cloud. Perform an audit so you can get the full picture. Then look at how to get the most out of what you have.
When Keith from SRG began his group’s cloud migration, they started by moving a lot of on-premise systems onto the cloud. This offered immediate cloud benefits without being too big a change in working practices for staff. It improved productivity while minimising disruption.
Step 5: Work out what technology you want to change and why
This is linked to steps 3 and 4. When you have your business goals, you know what functionality you need to support them, and you have the full picture of the technology you already have, you can highlight which applications you want to move further into the cloud.
Step 6: Consider your legal or regulatory obligations
Look into the data security and data privacy laws you’re operating under. In the UK, that means knowing what FCA regulations you need to follow in terms of KYC, money laundering, GDPR and more. If you operate in multiple countries you’ll need to do the same for each jurisdiction.
Match those regulatory obligations to the functionality offered by the different cloud tiers and by different IT partners to find the best mix for your business.
Step 7: Decide whether to trial it or “Big Bang” it
This advice came from Keith at SRG and James Willison, the Managing Director of Web Connectivity.
Keith talks about comparing the two options: “Do you want to do a proof of concept in a small environment? Or do you want to Big Bang it in one go, with the potential business disruption that implies? Who do you need to involve internally in the business? Or will you bring in an outside contractor or partner to do it for you?”
James suggests starting small: “I don’t think everyone’s going to put their entire systems on the cloud on day one. You need to sandbox certain areas to get those proven first. Test it and prove it and move on from there.”
Step 8: Work out any possible change management challenges
Every business has its established ways of working. If you make the change all in one go or have to bring in outside support, you’re likely to cause disruption.
What opposition to change will you face amongst your staff? How can you make the change easier for them? Or do you want to just get it done quickly and focus on retraining and supporting them to adopt new working practices afterwards?
Step 9: Model what other successful brokers have done
Good advice here from James at Web Connectivity: “Learn from the experiences of people who’ve already done it.”
Who do you know in the broking community who has been through this change already? Can you get their advice? Check out webinars and case studies online focusing on brokers who’ve made the change. What challenges did they face? How did they overcome them? What processes did they use?
Try to find examples that mirror your business goals and have reached the stage of cloud migration you’re aiming for.
(If you want to read more about how Keith at SRG approached cloud migration, check out the case study we have in our ebook The 8 Tiers of Cloud Migration for CEOs, Heads of Broking and Heads of Sales.)
Step 10: Choose a cloud migration partner who can offer the support you need
Industry analyst Craig Beattie advises: “Find the right partner. Have someone hold your hand while you’re going into the cloud.”
A vendor higher up the tree will be faster at responding to requests for new integrations, new APIs, and new digital means for broking and distributing business, he adds.
If you’d like more tips on what to look for in a cloud migration partner, download our quick 4-page guide: How to Choose the Best Cloud Migration Partner: a quick guide for UK insurance brokers
In it, you’ll discover:
- How to know where your cloud provider is on the Celent 8-tier cloud migration model.
- Which technical questions to ask prospective vendors.
- Which strategic questions to ask so you’ll know if your provider can support you to reach the tier you want for your business.