Annalie Terblanche, Product Manager at SilverBridge
An Open API (application programming interface) provides standards for how different software communicate with each other. Taking it a step further, an Open API specification (OAS) allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of a service without requiring access to its source code. But what does this have to do with insurance? Simply put, Open APIs enable insurers to showcase their services so external partners can use them to bring added value to customers.
Accenture writes that Open APIs see insurers sharing and consuming data and services to create more appealing value propositions and new revenue streams. These data and services are exchanged with third parties. Customers can authorise their service providers to make their data accessible, in return for better, more personalised services and experiences.
Examples of how insurers can benefit from this can be found in the SilverBridge Smart Claims and Smart Underwriting solutions which focus on integrating with internal and external data sources. These enable insurers to improve the quality, consistency, and efficiency of the claims and underwriting processes. The ease of integrating with more data sources empowers the insurers to make better underwriting and claims decisions. Ultimately, this will result in a better customer experience while introducing cost efficiencies for the insurer.
This is only made possible through Open API environments.
Open APIs therefore enable insurers to manage the customer experience better, deliver new services, and enhance existing products. If this is to reinvent how insurance products are developed for a digital world, a robust API ecosystem must be available. Through this environment, insurers can get access to platforms that provide opportunities to deliver hyper-personalised solutions to customers. The API delivers the means to plug the insurer into virtually any value chain to enrich the customer experience while providing both the insurer and the third-party with access to untapped growth markets.
Of course, the API is essentially just the programming interface. The insurer still needs an enabling environment on which to deliver the Open APIs. This is where platform as a service (PaaS) becomes critical. The PaaS provides the delivery mechanism on which to build the Open API.
Simply put, the PaaS gives an insurer the core system that unlocks the potential of the Open APIs. In part, it facilitates the development of applications in the cloud. Why this is important for the insurer is that the combination of PaaS and Open APIs means the organisation can easily integrate with any applications in its ecosystem. It breaks down the traditional programmatic barriers that proprietary APIs have put in place.
The ’sharing’ of data between APIs from different organisations inject a level of flexibility into the PaaS environment of the insurer. This makes it possible for life insurers to deliver value added solutions on top of its existing platform. Effectively, it brings modernisation capacity into an existing environment to help digitalise the insurance environment.
Making it real
The SilverBridge Exergy solution is hosted in Microsoft Azure and built on Open API standards that enable our customers to easily add Web-based applications into the environment. These can either be SilverBridge developed applications or applications developed by the insurer or third-party partners like telecom providers, health clubs, retailers, and so on. It is all about creating a platform where virtually any sales, customer serving, or other application can be developed within an integrated insurance platform.
Exergy becomes the glue that ties everything together and manages the entire life cycle of a policy and scheme – from quotation and application stage to claims finalisation, cancellation, or end-of-term. Furthermore, Exergy supports Straight Through Processing even when the process starts outside the solution as it supports the Open APIs of our customers.
Fundamentally, Open APIs help insurers become more adaptable to the evolving needs of customers by using their data to enhance the service offering beyond the traditional. Open APIs have the potential to positively disrupt the insurance value chain and give insurers the means to unlock new revenue streams when working with third parties while also enhancing their existing solutions.
With extensive experience in designing and implementing solutions for retail and corporate long-term insurers, including pensions and employee benefits, SilverBridge is one of the largest providers of specialised technology solutions to emerging markets. Its experience also includes the development of artificial intelligence and robotic process automation solutions not only for insurance, but also in the banking industry.