Archive for the ‘FAST’ Category

Managing Changing Priorities During the Agile Software Development Process

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Speed and functionality are the driving forces behind agile software development process. Within an agile scenario, small teams  rapidly deliver functioning product within a short time frame. These outcomes are achieved when teams are given flexibility and self-governance. However, even the most independent agile teams must bow to customer demands and changing markets. So, what do agile teams do when priorities change?

They default to their agile processes. Indeed, agile methodology has change management in its DNA. Here are the agile processes that your team can leverage when change is afoot.


The Development Cycle

Agile methodology speeds up the development cycle. Instead of completing each step at a time, all steps are taken on by various team members simultaneously. Through timely communication, regular check-ins and a focus on adaptability, the team attempts to create a functioning end product within a set time frame, usually three weeks.

If the product isn’t functioning in three weeks, then the development phase of the cycle begins again. Each new beginning marks the beginning of a new iteration, or sprint.

When it comes to managing changing priorities, early phases of the development cycle are important but the end of a sprint is critical.

Agile Phases

Most agile team leaders agree that establishing clear goals and transparent metrics keeps all stakeholders, including customers, aware of progress and facilitates collaboration. During the first phase of the agile process, goals are clearly established between all parties involved. This is done by determining the project’s feasibility, which is then followed by the next phase: planning.

During the planning phase, stakeholders determine how expectations will be met, and when. The team establishes the protocol and forecasts reasons for potential changes in priorities. Here are a few reasons why priorities might change:

  • The client might not be aware of what they really want but suddenly figure it out mid-development.
  • The marketplace undergoes unexpected changes.
  • During the testing stage the client finds defects and missing features.
  • Regulations and security features might change, especially for those in heavily regulated and data-intense industries.

Discussing these potential scenarios with the client gives the team a chance to explain how agile methods are designed to address changes in priorities.

After planning, the team dives into development. Development strategies are dependent on the type of team, product, expectations and plan, however, the meat of development is the same across projects. According to Gregory S. Smith, author of Becoming Agile, development involves building, testing and demonstrating product features. Yes, demonstrating. At the end of each iteration, all stakeholders meet face-to-face and participate in a demonstration of the project.

Then, priorities are officially changed. In other words, the agile process includes, invites, encourages a priority shift every three weeks (or the time determined by your team during the planning stage).

What Could Go Wrong?

If not handled appropriately, then shifting priorities might mean that your team will experience a backlog of unfinished tasks that continually get moved down the stack.

How to handle shifting priorities appropriately? This can get tricky as each stakeholder has different priorities. Developers might have solutions that the client thinks are too costly or time-consuming, usability designers might want to push ahead and prioritize other elements that are related to their tasks, while upper level management might be concerned about timelines and expenditures.

Ultimately, if all stakeholders are unable to reach a conclusion, the Scrum master, or product owner, or product manager (there are a variety of titles for the person in charge) has to make a decision. This person is usually part developer, but mostly part business analyst.

The business analyst/product manager must determine how to make the customer happy, how to deliver a quality product and how to nurture talent. It’s not the easiest role to have in an organization, but a good product manager is able to balance the needs of all parties and manage priorities while keeping to the established timeline.

In most instances, the team is able to self-govern successfully, stick with the plan that was devised early in the project and deliver the best product in the shortest amount of time. To find out more about agile methodology and how to manage priorities, please contact us.

Trends in Life Insurance: What Consumers Want Impacts Insurers

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

It’s hard to think of any company as being on the cutting edge of the insurance industry. Why? Because of so many rapid advances in every economic sector, the modern insurance organization struggles to keep up. Since the institution of Obamacare, insurance companies have struggled to update their information systems and business practices to adapt to a consumer-driven environment. They also face stricter government regulations. In reality, life insurance companies belong to the same group as health insurance companies in the sense that they collect medical information about subscribers. You might be wondering how all of this ties together. In a nutshell, these kinds of insurance companies must deal with the fact that 21st-century seniors are living longer!


Consumers Always Want More

Today’s seniors and middle-aged consumers planning for retirement share a common concern. They want to ensure that their life insurance policies and annuities will stand the test of time. Quite frankly, we just aren’t sure if we might live to be a hundred years old. If we retire at 65 and live to that age, we need money to survive for 3.5 decades. Recently, we were reading Greg Ostrowski’s piece on the U.S. News & World Report website. From the standpoint of trends in life insurance, we believe it offered some helpful insights for insurers trying to understand what consumers want, which should always drive their designs for new or improved customer service platforms.

1. Consumers want to take stock of their existing collection of retirement products. Ostrowski explains that this can include considering their 401K plans from former employers, their stock portfolios, and their retirement savings accounts. He recommends that people evaluate their assets and liabilities. Anyone who has tried to buy a home or to refinance student loans has thought about this at some point. What about everyone else? We would add that insurers marketing to consumers must address the concern of having enough retirement income. They must shape their financial products, including life insurance policies and annuities, to fit this environment.

2. Consumers must plan for retirement savings and for retirement spending needs, says Ostrowski. This is a no-brainer for insurance companies. A good life insurance website includes financial tools for consumers to use to make calculations, especially estimating future payments and retirement expenses. At a minimum, retirees require some money in their budget to visit their grandchildren.

3. Consumers can plan a budget that takes into account the timing of different retirement payments. In the same month, this could look like Social Security income, dividends from stocks, payments from annuities, and payments from employer-based retirement plans.

4. Consumers should understand the tax implications of different types of accounts, not just the timing of payments (i.e. IRAs and annuities). Information about these kinds of questions are ripe for featuring on insurance websites and subscriber account management platforms. These should be updated when the federal government creates new tax regulations.

If consumers take into account all assets and liabilities, formulate a budget, and then purchase financial instruments that provide enough retirement income, they will still have other worries. A big one, says Ostrowski, is what they will do with their cash. Some might think of this cash as “running-around” money, and others might think of this as money to save for their heirs. There are so many options for spending cash, everything from playing the stock market to acquiring more real estate.

We have many ideas on how to build consumer-friendly information systems that fit a life insurance company’s existing infrastructure. We aren’t necessarily tied to the wraparound approach. We can go to the drawing board and create entirely new information systems upon request. If you have questions about how to build web-based systems that benefit subscribers and prospects in the consumer-driven economy, please contact us.

5 Common Problems in the Agile Software Development Process

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Agile software development teams work through a series of sprints to reach project completion. In the beginning, the product owner ensures that every part of the project is well mapped out and assigns duties to each team. More than one team may work on the project at any time and the people on each team may change during the product development cycle. That’s why it’s important to understand the common problems in the agile project management process, and here we break down five of them:


Problem 1: Communication breaks down between teams. These teams include individuals with vast technical expertise, but sometimes they just don’t communicate well with each other. The product people are about preparing the product for the market, and the software engineers are deeply enmeshed in the details of building the client’s service-oriented architecture. If they could just work together, the project would get done faster. The product owner does not have time to resolve all of the communication issues between teams while managing multiple projects.

Problem 2: Knowledge silos hold up progress. People on one team are specialists in certain aspects of software development. They know their coding techniques inside and out, but it may be hard for them to understand the technical components that other teams are working on at the same time. Everyone wants their own share of the project to be superior, but it’s easy for multiple teams to forget they’re working on the same product. In reality, their sharing of technical knowledge would benefit everyone on the project.

Problem 3: Historical knowledge wanes, and agile teams start holding meetings without understanding their relevance. In the beginning, the product owner laid out a plan for the sprints that agile teams would move through to complete the project. If there is difficulty completing one of the sprints or if teams waste too much time on sprint reviews and retrospectives, the entire project stalls. The final product may diverge from the version defined by the product owner.

Problem 4: Quality assurance is not built into the development process. Some people assigned to agile teams have experience working through this process, and others are newer to their respective teams. What’s more, some teams work better together than others. However, the project depends on each team meeting its deadlines and producing quality pieces of software. Agile teams should have a system for documenting that the customer is happy with the completion of each stage of the project. Quality assurance documentation occurs in the background throughout the project even while agile teams push forward to achieve their sprints on time.

Problem 5: Location affects the ability of teams to collaborate on the project. What happens if one or more agile teams are working from different locations? It’s not like they can run across the hall to discuss problems with writing code or bugs to work out after testing has been completed. They have to find ways to work together throughout project management software, through emails and video conferences, and through telephone conversations. Even if multiple teams can conference together on the phone to solve project issues, this takes everyone away from the work they must do to complete their team’s assignment.  

The agile software development process is full of potential issues that hold up project completion. The best agile teams work together to complete their work on time and communicate effectively with other teams. If you partner with the wrong firm to build a service-oriented architecture for your insurance company, you could wait weeks or months and still get an inferior product. We have our risk management and quality assurance methodologies in place to ensure that our agile teams complete all work to your satisfaction. We solve technical problems before they affect the final product. Please contact us today for more information.

Agile Software Development: Motivating Teams for Faster Results

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Software firms use agile software development to complete projects for clients with greater efficiency. The typical agile environment requires the use of teams of software developers. Some members may participate in a software development project via telecommuting, and others may work on-site. Teamwork is essential to an agile team’s success. We often get questions on how to make organizations more effective through agile development. One answer is that leaders use motivation techniques to facilitate rapid software production. Agile leaders often serve as facilitators rather than managers. Here, we consider insights from a study in Ireland that addresses motivation in agile teams:

According to High, Conboy, and Lang, “Team members can motivate and influence each other’s behavior through frequent meetings and communications (Das and Teng 2001), such as, the daily stand-up. They can be motivated to develop their skills by learning from more experienced personnel, and encouraging each other to take responsibility for specific areas of the work (Hansson et al. 2006).”


Considering the Work Environment 

In agile, a software application gets developed in a series of iterations. Agile team leaders move the team towards results through these short phases. They don’t have months or years to develop their teams into cohesive units. Agile teams might have a few days or a few weeks to execute one iteration. Within a single project, the developers can be different for each iteration. However, the success of the project depends on completion of all iterations. Agile team leaders must feel comfortable working with a range of personalities and motivate them to collaborate in rapid fashion. As a general rule of thumb, leaders can appeal to team members who are intrinsically motivated by offering them a degree of control over their work (even in a brief iteration). They can also use other incentives.

Addressing Employee Motivation

It might seem simple to assign employees their preferred tasks and to offer them opportunities to derive social status from their project roles. On each software project, a team member’s roles and tasks could differ. Leaders can motivate some employees by offering task variety while motivating others by giving them their preferred tasks every time. Several team members may have comparable experience performing the tasks in a single iteration. Leaders must think critically about who is the best person for each role or task.

Maintaining Accurate Skills Inventories

If team leaders will assign employees to their preferred tasks, they need to have an accurate inventory of everyone’s related skills. They should create a team work schedule and establish preferred methods of communication. They should allow more experienced members the time to teach less experienced members. If leaders don’t create these kinds of conditions for a project, then the team members can become de-motivated. They can also lose motivation because they don’t receive enough opportunities to advance.

Moving to Agile  

We recommend that agile team leaders assign a variety of tasks to project members. They should also allow for as much role flexibility and task ownership as the project allows. If every member on an agile team feels challenged and given a reasonable time to complete his or her assignments during an iteration, everyone wins. When one or more team members are unhappy with their assigned tasks and related deadlines, then the entire team may become de-motivated.

Over the years, we’ve seen many IT firms achieve better results by adopting the agile software development process. With a heavy focus on efficiency and quality control, agile teams can satisfy each client and the target audiences who will use their software applications. For more ideas on increasing motivation on your agile team, please contact us today.

How Agile Software Development Supports SOA Solutions

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

If you are in the insurance industry or software development these days, you are sure to have at least heard about Agile Software Development methods and probably observed or participated in projects which exploited them. As a professional in the insurance industry, you are also probably interested in software solutions that deliver service-oriented architecture solutions for your company.

When you choose one of the several current agile approaches, you will find it is an excellent system to add components that make your insurance services more competitive. There are multiple ways that agile can help insurers to automate and increase ROI, but let’s look specifically at integrating pre-built and custom components and why it matters.aglie2

Using Agile To Produce SOA Components

Under the umbrella of agile, there are specific methods that take the principles and turn them into processes. Of these, Scrum is the leading project management system within agile. Scrum sets a climate of transparency, sets priorities and breaks the work down into “sprints” that last two to three weeks. Teams are usually co-located and meet periodically to report results and receive new instructions. Agile systems such as Scrum follow a cycle of repeated iterations, and they work well with most development projects.

Insurance software is extremely amenable to automation, replacing repetitive manual processes with digital systems that handle tasks smoothly and without interactions. Insurance is an interesting case because it is mathematical and behavioral; it manages risk and documentation and applies the discipline of a profitable business model. Add to the equation the need for a competitive edge and response to the innovations from within the industry and you have a dynamic recipe for demanding software solutions.

Harnessing The Talent Within Teams

The power of the agile approach lies in its ability to bridge old software components and new, to create a smooth operating whole from disparate parts. When your team uses agile, you have a discipline for a marketplace of supporting businesses and startups that are all attempting to add value and have a successful business model that makes insurers more competitive. The companies and startups that provide the supporting software modules most likely develop them using agile.

Rather than conforming to dictated policies and processes, teams concentrate on building working software from the creative energies of the team members. As challenges emerge an agile team will keep the plan in mind, along with the final goal, but they will adapt by responding to changes and focusing on getting the project back on track.

If you use Scrum, you work on a “story” that is the narrative that defines the goal you wish to achieve in a sprint. Stories demonstrate the levels of trust and respect that has to exist between leaders and teams; this mutual respect facilitates the creativity and initiative that makes Scrum and all agile methods so useful in software development.

Speed Is Everything In Software Development Now

Today, the driving force in development is the need for a rapid turnaround cycle that rolls out a desired feature or service before the competition. Your competitors have the same information, and they are working toward the same objectives; the advantage goes to the development team that has the best methods of working together.

The highest priority in extending your business processes is to do it fast before the competition can steal the advantage. You will need to add the capabilities of new components and retain the existing legacy of the systems that have brought you to your current state of development. The discipline of agile development philosophies and methodologies, such as Scrum will help you to make measurable progress in integrating new components

Working with a vendor that specializes in agile development gives you the best tools to integrate additional business process modules into your insurance software architecture. FAST enables users to leverage agile methods to build new applications and extend functionality as end-to-end SOA solutions with ease. Contact FAST Technology to learn how our solutions can help you get the most from your software development efforts.

Big Data for Life Insurance and Annuities Opens Up New Value Propositions

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The insurance industry is a profession that is well positioned to benefit from emerging Big Data analytics resources. Big Data is more than a buzzword it is the exploding volume of data that is flowing throughout the information systems of the world and you can integrate it into business processes.

According to a 2014 Cap Gemini report, ninety percent of the data in the world appeared in the last two years, and eighty percent of this is data has no inherent structure, which means that the rate of data creation is accelerating dramatically; the sources are disparate and mostly disorganized. Business leaders are beginning to extract value from Big Data by connecting advanced software that analyzes it for the useful information that hides within it.



Big Data In The Business Of Life Insurance And Annuities

Big Data has potential uses in the insurance industry because of the available technological capacity to process more data and do it faster than ever before, which means that you can create software to arrive at conclusions from statistical data with greater certainty. Using more data and reaching higher levels of mathematical certainty is something that insurance industry competitors are always seeking.

Applying better tools for statistical analysis is an excellent way to gain an advantage in the insurance sector today.When you bring vast quantities of data under your control and turn it into actionable business intelligence; this is natural for insurance enterprises that already work with life policies and annuities.

Work The Numbers To Create A Big Value Proposition

The insurance industry is transforming business models to accommodate Big Data you can use it to do a diverse range of things. For example, you can personalize policies for clients with no concern for the volume of data involved. There are many ways to improve your value proposition and customer relationship management to transform your operations.

Big Data analytics allows you to restructure your underwriting process and improve the statistical validity of your risk calculations. The Cap Gemini report on Big Data in life insurance points out that analytics are finding use throughout the insurance value chain: In the front office, policy administration and underwriting, and in claims processing for life insurers.

Predictive analytics will help you can discover the data patterns that indicate dissatisfied or disinterested policyholders and develop a program to reduce your customer retention risks. Other opportunities that you might identify include finding undeserved markets, matching new services to existing markets, or cross-selling opportunities hidden in the data.

There are more sources of data to include in underwriting decisions than ever before. One of the core tasks in processing Big Data is finding the patterns and connections in data points that come from disparate sources; this could be from multiple mismatched databases or the unstructured data mentioned above. Your software will have to find the shared features and apply a structure; this might use machine-learning algorithms and add it to your master database.

Add Big Data Functionality One Component At A Time

There are as many applications for Big Data analytics in the insurance business as managers and actuaries can dream up. So, how do your bring big data into your current insurance software platform? You can integrate the functions of Big Data while retaining legacy software that continues to perform useful work.

One of the best ways to add any new features to your information systems is by integrating components that use the service-oriented architecture (SOA). FAST Technologies specializes in SOA for life insurance and annuities companies. Contact us to find out what Big Data analytics and the right SOA can do for your life insurance and annuities business.

SOA Components In Life Insurance – Policy Administration Systems

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) is modular software; it comprises components that are the building blocks of services. These components work with insurance applications regardless of what legacy platform companies bring to the table. It is an excellent framework to upgrade business process management systems, without conflicting with existing software capabilities. Using SOA in policy administration produces a client-centered operating system with expanded capabilities while maintaining successful legacy operations.                       service-oriented-architecture-soa

Black Box Components Delivering Open Service Systems

SOA is software architecture that supports operational requirements with components that fit into the system; developers design components to match the purpose, without demanding accommodation. This approach is an alternative to large package software because of the flexibility that it engenders, components fit into a business process management framework that suits the purpose, flexible and customizable, it thrives in projects based on agile methodologies. Under the SOA regime, change is a marginal process that only demands as much effort as it takes to add a unique capability; adding more is like adding blocks one-by-one.

The service defines the functions that a component will represent as a singular purpose, what goes on within is not needed by the system, just the output. The style of architecture in the design of components should align with that of the system as a whole, as well as the business process that it represents.

SOA builds components starting from the interface, describing a business process algorithmically, with rules and goals, and incorporating existing service components. Services are black boxes because users and administrators at the business process management level do not need any insight into the inner workings of the services to receive the benefit of the output. The precise nature of services does demand reliable quality control in the development phase, confirming that services do perform as intended.

Applying SOA To Insurance Policy Administration

Software for insurance companies must integrate policy management to deliver control over the financial aspects of the business as a central feature. The benefit is the ability for insurance companies to have all system information available in an accessible format in real-time, and that supports intelligent underwriting and financial management.

According to IBM, SOA offers dramatic benefits to insurance companies. It facilitates the ability to innovate in response to disruptive changes in the market, and competitive pressures that are growing rapidly. It provides integration of complex procedures while serving customers end-to-end. SOA provides the capability to automate new market channels via the Web, to create seamless organizations with partners, and to deliver business intelligence in real-time.

While it might be desirable for insurance companies to upgrade policy administration by throwing out legacy systems and starting afresh, that is not always possible or even desirable in the real world. That is why SOA is such valuable tool for developers and project teams for the insurance business, as a tool for change management. When developers apply SOA well, it still delivers the capabilities but without loss of standing systems.

FAST Software Delivers Policy Administration Systems For Life and Annuity

In the realms of life insurance policies and annuities, FAST is a dynamic and insurance technology provider. We specialize in SOA solutions that expand capabilities for our clients, without undermining legacy systems. We enable our clients to deliver exceptional functionality and creativity in insurance product design.

FAST clients find that we live up to its name; our approach produces results quickly and efficiently. The insurance industry demands software that is both integrated and innovative while still accounting for the unique requirements of the profession. To experience our service and learn what we can do for your insurance company, speak to the Life Insurance and Annuity software experts at FAST Technology today!

Trends in Life Insurance: How Advanced Analytics Help Obtain and Keep Clients

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

Trends in life insurance continually change, though technology has changed everything about how those in the industry sell insurance policies. If you’ve already conquered the hottest digital marketing trends in the online world, do you really know the realities behind how your campaign is going? Also, how do you retain the clients you have so they don’t slip away to a competitor?


As big data becomes an increasingly used technology in the insurance industry, those in life insurance plan to use it for more thorough analytics. Trends have this occurring throughout 2016 as life insurance companies start thinking more from an external perspective rather than internal.

In this regard, it means more focus on the customer and what they really want. At stake is being able to know clients more intimately to provide various services you could cross-sell to them.

With analytic tools that are easy to understand, you can also improve customer acquisition, customer retention, and determine customer lifetime value.

Let’s take a look at what’s available and how you can complement this with service-oriented architecture to bring better client services.

Improving Your Customer Acquisitions

Evidence shows advanced analytics can cut the cost of customer acquisitions by optimizing marketing campaign results. This works through predictive modelling and looking at various factors behind the clients you need. It delves into some more important territory like psychographics and survey data based on the prospects you have in mind.

Using big data in the mix, bringing all the above aspects together helps bring better prospect scoring. Analytic tools frequently organize this into segments where you place clients you’re trying to convert and those you’re nurturing for the future. Either segment can get divided into different variations from low to high propensity for conversion.

What’s important here is each scoring model needs continual updating due to changing market conditions. In the older days of analytics, gathered information would frequently become too outdated to become useful for life insurance firms.

Analytics for Customer Retention

While technology can help in acquiring clients, it’s just as vital as using it to retain clients. Advanced analytics once again comes to the rescue on this by showing realities you’d otherwise miss.

You can do this by using analytics to create a customer touch-point system nurturing client relationships in the first year. It starts with an annual review of the customer’s policy to see what more they may need for protection. Then it can progress to “thank you” cards (sent by email or snail mail), cross-sell opportunities, sending newsletters, plus greeting cards.

Analytics help you determine what the right approach is to all of these so you get the timing right. Cross-selling is essential to avoid any lapses from your existing clients. If a client feels their current policy isn’t right for them, cross-selling them something else that could benefit their lives benefits you.

By reading more detailed metrics, you’ll determine exactly which products would best fit those dropping their policies. You’ll also discover those most apt to respond so you don’t waste your efforts.

Predicting Customer Lifetime Value

Using the right analytics system, you should calculate customer lifetime value through a different calculation method. Studying transaction details over a year’s time matters more than demographic details since it helps determine who the most loyal clients are.

Your metrics help you organize categories for which clients you want to focus on, typically organized as Platinum, Gold, and Silver. Through these same numbers, you need to determine clients with the most risk for policy lapse as a way to judge who’s most apt to leave you.

Contact us here at Fast Technology so we can help you use new technology for your life insurance business, particularly service-oriented architecture to build new systems.

Four Ways Agile Methods Expand Business Capabilities

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

As an insurance professional, you understand the need for continuous access to client data in all its forms. You also know how important it is to modernize existing systems to expand your business capabilities. While undergoing expansion, you expect your software to harness new developments in data analytics while syncing with legacy data and maintaining regulatory compliance and security. How can all these expectations be met?

In this kind of rapidly shifting environment, agility is extremely beneficial. Agile methods are a means of achieving flexibility and growth you need, without undermining service.



How do agile methods work?

During the development process, small teams work in cycles, or iterations, that no more than three-weeks. After each three-week interval, the team meets to troubleshoot the product and receive feedback from stakeholders. This strategy results in rapid development of a fluid and optimized product.

When agile development methodologies began gaining mainstream acceptance, large organizations like Boeing, IBM and HP adopted agile software development methodologies as a way to rapidly deploy software. At the time, IBM’s Harish Grama, noted that not all enterprise-scale projects are suited for agile development, but told TechTarget that agile methods have been used to develop extensions for legacy products.

Here are four ways agile software development methods can expand your business capabilities by modernizing your legacy systems:

  1. Integrating pre-built and custom components.  Traditionally, when new software packages are adopted, enterprises spend time and resources aligning their legacy systems with software packages. This kind of implementation requires extensive customization and can lead to clunky delivery. Agile methods make it possible to integrate pre-built, or legacy systems, with custom components. This means that your software maintains consistency while new components are layered on top of the existing system.

Agile teams take into account current user patterns and behavior, data storage capabilities and workflow. The resulting product maintains user familiarity with the platform, which makes the learning curve less steep, all while expanding users’ access to a broader range of tools and technologies.

  1. Harnessing new data and analytic technologies is one reason why organizations seek to modernize their systems. Platforms that harness predictive analytics, heat maps and scores provide up-to-date information for users and clients. Additionally, predictive analytics are more powerful when they are backed with quality legacy data.

Rather than building an isolated app from the ground up, and without access to historical data, agile teams integrate legacy data into new systems so that predictive analyses are grounded in relevant data.

  1. Creating exceptional user experience.  Internal users of enterprise software applications have grown to expect their business apps to function as reliably and intuitively as their personal applications. Users are often frustrated when they cannot find what they need when they need it. In their frustration they may dismiss new technologies and expanded capabilities in favor of short cuts, even those that might compromise security.

Agile development strategies resolve these issues by involving key stakeholders in the development process. Additionally, agile teams include user experience experts who run testing, surveys and bridge the gap between what is possible (what the engineers can create) and what is practical (what dovetails with existing workflows).

During each iteration users are encouraged to troubleshoot the product so that it functions in real-world environments.

  1. Maintaining regulatory compliance. Agile methodologies were designed with fluidity in mind. In an ever-changing development landscape, agile teams are prepared to make updates as they are needed and to do so rapidly. Since agile teams meet frequently, they examine all aspects of a product and key in on data migration protocols throughout each phase. Through this process they ensure that legacy data storage is capable of meeting new regulations and migrates without any compromises.

Finally, when it comes to policy and agency management, as well as client data management, you need a platform that engages your internal users, provides security and can access legacy data. For more information on how to modernize your current system, please contact us.

5 Ways IoT is Changing Insurance

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

You may appreciate IoT – for insurance, and you may not. Whatever you may think about the Internet of Things (IOT), generally, insurance industry experts think that the IOT will have significantly impact your insurance products, risk pools, loss control, data collection, and sharing of information. For those of you who aren’t so sure about it, here are some of the best things we found out about this feature.


  • Usage-based insurance. Currently, insurance companies gather information from the vehicles of potential customers — think Progressive’s Snapshot — by combining telecommunications with information technology (telematics). They want to determine the vehicle’s history of speed, turning patterns, driving distance and other metrics in a particular geographic area in order to fix a price for insurance coverage how drivers are actually using their automobiles. In the future, IOT devices will talk to each other and give a more precise picture of this type of data, in real-time . The carriers of the future will know more about you and the steps you take to change your habits. IOT will enable carriers to reduce loss ratios, improve growth and margins. Insurance analysts expect that it will prove financially sound for both the carrier and the insured.
  • Sensors: Homes and businesses have been using sensors for a while to track light usage, temperature, toxic fumes, and other metrics in our buildings. Up until now, the sensor reported its information one-way. With IOT, the communication becomes two-way. The sensors will alert customers to the potential for dangerous conditions and reduce the risk of loss from environmental factors that the sensor recognizes as flawed.       Insurance carriers like this aspect because consistent monitoring reduces the risk of a problem spreading or in the case of immediate threat contact the authorities, fire, or health services automatically.
  • Biometrics: We are all familiar with smart devices we call “wearables”, like Fitbits. With the IOT emergence and the improved data enhancements, wearable devices will enable health providers to determine compliance with rehabilitation appointments for disabled patients. Employers will monitor employees activity times and the monitors will even track your heart health. Smart devices will get smarter, communicate with each other and become more customized to your behavior. In the future, biometric devices will not only collect information but report it back to the wearer or to the wearer’s physician, an employer or insurer. A monitor tracking blood chemistry, for example, will alert the wearer to a potential heart attack. This is one are of IoT that is already starting to gain traction. In fact, a recent CB Insights survey shows there are now more than new 50 start-ups with focusing on wearables for the life insurance sector alone.
  • Diagnostics:  Manufacturers embed smart sensors in all sorts of machines, from toys to appliances to industrial machines. As these devices are internet enabled and capable of “talking” to other smart devices, insurance carriers that provide warranties on these various smart devices will be in a position to sell products that offer reports identifying potential impending problems with the device before the problems happen.
  • Carriers’ transformation: The biggest change will occur in the way carriers operate. The tremendous amount of data will mean insurance companies have to figure out the logistics: how are their legacy systems going to communicate with all these devices, how will they store all this data that smart devices deliver; how will they sort through the information and make some sense of it. Some industry analysts predict the IOT will consist of billions of smart devices sending 50 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020. That is four, short years away. The time to figure out the logistics of these changes is now. The in-house IT department meet the need, not only in size but in sophistication. Carriers will need to not only look internally but at third party partners to help streamline and modernize to meet the come wave.

If you want to read more about how the Internet of Things will relate to the insurance field, please see the article entitled “IBM Internet of Things for Insurance“.

To talk more about how FAST is preparing insurers for the IoT future give us a call at 732-225-0008 or visit us at