Moving applications to the cloud can be disruptive. And if they are transaction-intensive applications, the process can be doubly disruptive.
That's because today's insurance companies need real-time interfaces to their customer interactions. Linh Ho, director of product marketing at OpTier, shared some of her observations with me on the challenge of moving transaction-heavy applications or processes to a cloud environment. It can be done, she says, but requires highly focused management that can look across all the stages of the transaction's execution chain—from the front-end input to the hand-off to back-end systems.
Linh calls this emerging area “business transaction management,” in which transactions are mapped to required technical components and tracked in real time across the execution chain.
Often, fear of losing control of transactions is a deal-breaker for cloud computing projects, she says. “So, claims, medicare, actuarials and any critical service that is either revenue-generating or client-impacting will just have to wait unless they have the ability to ensure minimal to no disruption to the business and their end-users’ experience.”
For a highly regulated industry such as insurance, she notes, “many are concerned with security, change impact, SLA compliance, losing sight of business transactions traversing through the cloud, provisioning and billing. So as an insurance company, where do you start and how do you start?”
Employing business transaction management practices help provides IT managers “a way to baseline application performance before, during and after cloud adoption,” Linh explains. Such practices also provide visibility in the event of service disruptions.
In an insurance company moving operations to the cloud, for example, a business transaction management dashboard and process would keep tabs on the availability of accurate and up-to-date information, as well as on customer, policy and claim information downloaded from carrier systems to agency systems.
The bottom line is that insurance companies are under the gun to be highly responsive to evolving market and customer demands, Linh says. “Becoming a 'real-time' enterprise is a necessity for survival. In order to improve customer acquisition and retention rates, organizations require availability of accurate and up-to-date information both online and at the contact center straight-through processing to automate external and internal customer-facing transactions. They require real-time integration between a plethora of in-house and external IT systems, spanning several generations of technology across many different platforms.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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