Flying blind: document management ripe for overhaul


Flying blind: document management ripe for overhaul

The focus on data security ignores the sensitive information shared in the millions of documents that make insurance possible. Is it time for a new approach to technology? Intelligent Insurer hears from TIW Group.

It’s not always just about the data—sometimes, it’s about the documents. That’s a key message from Warren Gunn, chief technology officer at TIW Group, the London-based insurtech, enterprise content management (ECM) and digital content-sharing solutions specialist.

As he told Intelligent Insurer’s online hub, while the issue of cybersecurity has hardly been ignored in the insurance sector, the focus is too narrow.

“Everyone thinks it’s all about the data and securing the database. What they generally forget are the files, the documents, the content…the whole dialogue,” Gunn said.

“The contracts and quotes and policies and everything that you use within the insurance lifecycle ultimately ends up in some hard copy or other and is signed,” he explained. Those documents contain a “huge” amount of data and sensitive information, he said. Yet they receive relatively little attention from a security point of view.

“No-one ever took the document seriously enough.”

“We can pick and choose the front end and the dashboards—everything.” Warren Gunn, TIW Group

That’s true across two key areas: The first is document-sharing—usually facilitated through “perimeter products” where the company has little oversight of security or other users’ activities.

“Sometimes they have to open their systems or firewalls to allow people to collaborate within SharePoint or another enterprise document management solution,” said Gunn.
“They’ve then opened the doorway to their enterprise pillar strategic product, and within that system, there are thousands, if not millions, of other documents.”

The other area is email, where again, traceability and the ability to track, monitor and audit access and use are poor. At best, it adds to confusion and inefficiency as those collaborating on documents work on different versions of shared documents, for example.

“Why do all of that when you can have the document in one place, send a link to people and let them come to the document, which is a living, breathing organic thing.”

TIW’s solutions address such problems. The Spinnii app, for example, provides a document and content management solution, giving clients a secure area they control and that allows them and their auditors to see what the other users view and access.

“You can see what they see,” Gunn explained.

Time to stop reinventing the wheel

Of course, there are good reasons insurers and others rely on solutions such as SharePoint. One is the difficulty of integrating in-house systems with their other solutions. Another is that the technology moves quickly, and the costs of shifting from legacy to new technology can be high—all the more given the age of some of the legacy technology used in insurance.

“The technology stacks are still very old in insurance. Some are 10, 20, or 30 years old, if not older. I still see your green screen around,” said Gunn.

The user experience, performance, and, most important, “adaptability” of the technology adopted are therefore crucial.

“Let’s start building the engine as a market-wide API working in the best interests of that entire market rather than an individual.”

That has informed the major design choice around TIW Group’s solutions, which focuses the core of the technology on application programming interfaces, the protocols for integrating software and services with other software and solutions.

That enables the software to integrate with the range of different systems within firms and adapt and change the “front-end”, such as the user interface, as trends and tastes change.

“ReactJS, aka JavaScript, might be the flavour of the month, one month, AngularJS the next. We can pick and choose the front end and the dashboards—everything,” Gunn said.

Such a philosophy applied more widely across the industry could bring significant efficiencies. “Why aren’t market bodies working together with suppliers to build something that says right, when I need to go out to market with my quote, how do I go about that?”

Gunn is not against competition and differentiation in the market, but that can happen at the front end with the interface, functions and user experience. That’s where businesses can put their stamp on a product—rather than having to “reinvent the wheel” every time they change policy administration providers.

“Let them worry about the user experience, but let’s start building the engine as a market-wide API working in the best interests of that entire market rather than an individual,” Gunn said.

“If they did more of that, I think this market would move a lot more quickly.”

Warren Gunn is the chief technology officer at TIW Group. He can be contacted at:

TIW Group, Insurtech, ECM, Cybersecurity, Specialist, Warren Gunn, London, Insurance, Reinsurance

Intelligent Insurer