Technology

Nov
09
2017

Filmmakers and dystopian sci-fi novelists have long predicted a future where robots take control and humans are relegated to a servant class – or worse. This thought was in the back of my mind as I joined 20 Guidewire engineers and architects in an “Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) Workshop” led by Amazon Web Services.

Jul
14
2017

Why can’t the insurance business be more like Netflix? Or Tripadvisor or Booking.com?

Jul
07
2017

Of all the processes inherent to insurance, it could be argued that none are more important than the claims process. The general consensus is that claims typically account for up to 80% of an insurance company’s costs. When it is stated like that, 80% does not seem like an exceptionally large number.

May
02
2017

Insurtech startups are driving innovation in our industry. They are unhindered by carrier applications and culture, so they are able to swiftly target microsegments and deliver unique and streamlined customer experiences. In my first blog in this series, I shared the FinanceFox value proposition.

Apr
14
2017

How do you price a product when you do not know how much it costs to produce? This is a problem the insurance industry faces every day. While most industries know the cost of materials, labor, and profit margin to calculate the price of their products, insurance does not know the cost of the product when it is sold. The true cost of the product may not be known for many years once all the claims have been paid.

Mar
22
2017

Whether you are fixing the kitchen sink, doing yardwork or cooking a meal, it is often essential to have the right tools for the right job. The same applies when it comes to predictive analytics. Solutions for business intelligence, data visualization, and reporting are very different to those for predictive analytics. It’s even important to use the right predictive analytics software, especially when it comes to analyzing insurance data.

Mar
03
2017

Last November the Zurich Insurance Group hosted the first Insurance Hackathon in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). It took place in the RheinEnergy Stadion, the home of the local football team, in the heart of the German insurance sector - Cologne. Over a three-day period various teams consisting of developers, designers, and inventors competed against each other to win €50,000.

Feb
02
2017

Property and Casualty (P&C) insurance companies today understand that in order to take advantage of opportunities in a fast-changing market, they must ensure their core systems are agile enough to enable such gymnastics. But the financial aspect of a new, modern system can be daunting: Plugging hardware and software line items into an IT budget might bring the scary reality of costs into sharp focus.

Jan
19
2017
Jul
28
2016

Though I am but a humble consultant for a software vendor, I share something in common with many of you for-reals insurance professionals: I have been deepening my understanding of the P/C (Property/Casualty) insurance industry with courses from The Institutes.

Oct
01
2015

“Business and IT must be aligned for your software implementation to succeed.” How often have you heard that old truism?  But on most projects, that really means, “The business should clearly articulate what it wants, then twiddle its thumbs while IT does the hard work.” And that makes sense when the key difficulties are all about the code: APIs, integrations, configuration, etc. But what if the tougher issues are really for the business side to resolve?

Sep
21
2015

In my previous post, I began illustrating what Hadoop would look like as a business organization, focusing on the DataNodes in a Hadoop File System. Assuming all the rooms or DataNodes are in good condition, how do we start the process of gathering and analyzing data? The process begins with the managers (Mappers).  Each Mapper (manager) sits at one of the two desks in each room. It is their job to make sure that all the data that needs to be analyzed together ends up in the same room.

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Sep
18
2015

Hadoop has existed for roughly a decade since it was first conceived at Yahoo by Doug Cutting and Mike Cafarella in 2005.

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Aug
06
2015

In my previous post, I discussed how analytics can help identify insurance fraud, but how can this be applied in the real world? There has emerged a relatively new technology specifically made to analyze and store relationships or graphs with blazing speed and flexibility. A graph is any type of networked data.

Aug
04
2015

Insurance is a big industry. In the U.S. alone, 7,000 companies collect over $1 trillion of premium a year, resulting in an extremely attractive market for fraud. The FBI and NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) estimates that roughly 10 percent of all non-health insurance claims totaling $40 billion a year are very likely fraudulent.

Jul
02
2015

In my previous post, I outlined the importance of data science in leveraging and monetizing the current proliferation of data in most digital industries. The data science group is becoming the de facto group responsible for gaining insight from a company’s data. The pressing question that most organizations without an existing data science group struggle with is how to begin building out such a team with the proper skillsets.

Jun
12
2015

At Guidewire Live, we help our customers to understand their business in context of external data and make better operational and strategic decisions.  Until recently, we assumed that our customers must also be “live” on a Guidewire core system in order to take advantage of these capabilities.  That is changing now that we have released Spotlight

Jun
10
2015

The complexity of modern property and casualty core systems can seem daunting. While the business value being delivered is quite high, it comes at the cost of inherent complexity needed in the core system as well as the integration and communications between systems.

As a result, one of the critical aspects of software evaluation has nothing to do with functional capability, but instead how the application support team can keep the system performing at a high level.

Jun
08
2015

Fraud occurs when someone knowingly lies to obtain some benefit to which they are not otherwise entitled to or someone knowingly denies some benefit that is due and to which someone is entitled. Insurance fraud occurs on both the claims and underwriting side, but we will limit the focus of this post to claims fraud. Claims fraud can be broken into two categories – “Soft Fraud” and “Hard Fraud”. Soft Fraud is used to define unwanted opportunistic behavior of normally honest people.

Jun
04
2015

The title of “Data Scientist” is a relatively recent phenomena. Coined and popularized in the late ‘90s, the title didn’t really seem to have much widespread adoption until the last decade where the extreme proliferation of data and the need to analyze it forced companies to seek out the specialized resources best suited for this task. When I first entered the field a decade ago, the term “data scientist” really didn’t even exist (don’t most scientists use data?). To illustrate, I started as

Apr
28
2015

When business users talk about operational reports, their primary concern is the output - the information they require to make the decision at hand.  To them, a report is a report is a report.  It’s a thing.  But to make reporting happen, you actually need three things, not one.

The right data

Apr
10
2015

We all agree that predictive modeling is a powerful tool that can help us make better business decisions in every segment of the P&C insurance value chain. Daily we come across all kinds of industry statistics on how P&C carriers are planning to increase their investment in predictive analytics and where they are planning to invest. The ‘how we do it’ is equally important as the ‘what we do’.

Feb
13
2015

In a prior life I worked as a business systems analyst for a global hard drive manufacturer. After successfully navigating the Y2K crisis, we found ourselves inundated with custom report requests.  We did an analysis and found that our enterprise system had over 2,000 custom-coded operational reports, only 70 of which had been run in the last 90 days. Of course, the actively-used reports were the source of endless user complaints and enhancement requests.

Feb
12
2015

One of the biggest challenges faced by the U.S. Homeowners insurance industry are the losses driven by hazardous or poor maintenance conditions. There are many unknowns when a risk is being underwritten and field inspections help carriers learn more about the conditions of the structure and the property.

Jan
27
2015

One year ago, I told you a story about a VP of Claims who staffed up to improve her subrogation collections on personal auto claims, and I mentioned that we would continue supplying her with updates on 

Jan
08
2015

In most large IT organizations, there are many projects in-flight at any moment in time, at various stages of maturity. Without a consistent technical perspective across these projects, things can go haywire, with enterprises forced to support too many disconnected interests and technologies. This can lead to some interesting conversations for external partners trying to figure out the company’s IT landscape:

Q: “What kind of tool do you use for X?

A: “All of them.”

Apr
08
2014

According to JD Power's most recent claims satisfaction study, “the most important metric in claims” is cycle time—specifically, time till customers get paid. And it just so happens that for the third year in a row, the best in the business is a Guidewire ClaimCenter customer:

Jan
22
2014

I hate the word “actionable.” I know it’s all the rage in business intelligence marketing-speak, but it implies that complex processes and strategies can be reduced to “see this, do that.” We at Guidewire Live chose the motto “From Guessing to Knowing” because truly understanding what’s happening in your business often has value that may not be so simple to describe.

Jan
13
2014
Sep
17
2013

Fair warning: if you’re a software architecture purist, you may want to stop reading now.

Sep
12
2013

 When most people think of oil, they think of it as one homogeneous substance; black goopy stuff that comes out of ground. But it isn’t – crude oil, like data, varies tremendously in quality; crude oil can come as sweet crude (if it has <0.5% sulfur) or sour (if it has >0.5% sulfur).

Sep
06
2013

Mike Burn wrote a great blog post entitled What Live is, is not important. Why we built it, is.”  It’s a great read on what our thought process was when we built Live. It resonated with me, but left me wanting more.

Jun
17
2013

No matter the language, knowing where your customers are is essential – whether you’re writing their policy or handling their claim. When you know where they are you can direct them to the right services and the right services to them, you can perform a proper investigation and you can aggregate data and analyze collective risk.

May
15
2013

For any reader who was at the ACORD/LOMA conference in Las Vegas last week you will know that we made a bit of a splash at the Guidewire booth with Guidewire Live’s first conference appearance.  

May
09
2013

It seems to me that here’s still quite a lot of confusion swirling around what, exactly, constitutes a “cloud model” for software. We know that Gmail is cloud-based. But when we start to get into large scale enterprise software, it all gets fuzzier. If I take a traditional enterprise app, host it on my server, and rent it to you by the month, is it cloud-based?  I think the answer comes down to what you care about, mostly – if you’re a CIO and you care about the maintenance costs and pricing

Apr
25
2013

Have you ever started a job and instantly been anointed with a nickname? I did. It’s ‘1000’, or ‘M’ – as in the Roman numeral for 1000.

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Apr
15
2013

When we embarked upon building what eventually became known as Guidewire Live, we started with our customers. What problems were they struggling with and what unique assets could we bring to bear to help them solve those problems? We didn’t think a lot about what to call it or what category it fit into. But naturally, people asked and so we needed to come up with some answers: It’s a network. It’s a hosted platform of apps. It’s a community of insurers.

Apr
03
2013

Big data is like toilet paper. One-ply, two-ply, single roll, double roll, ultra roll – lots of choices and no humanly comprehensible way to make an honest comparison. Every package says it’s the biggest and the softest. So much confusion for such a mundane task. It’s a microcosm of our problem with big data, isn’t it? Every day, for even the smallest decisions, we’re overwhelmed with data.

Mar
22
2013

Vegas-style WWE wrestling as is now seen on TV. These were old fellas, who probably worked the mines when they weren’t dressed in leotards rolling around an unused school gym. My favorite wrestler went by the moniker Big Daddy, a brick wall of a Yorkshire man whose real name was Shirley Crabtree.

Mar
22
2013

Many of the best engineering problems form at the crossroads of competing interests: material strength versus weight for rocket parts, displacement versus efficiency for engines, or energy density versus longevity (or perhaps flammability) for batteries.

Mar
13
2013

As in “I love loss development triangles!” (Wait, what were you thinking?) I love them so much I made a couple hundred thousand of them*.

Mar
01
2013

In the business world there is a common refrain, “the customer is king”. The point is that no matter what business you are in, whether you’re selling insurance policies or insurance software, customer satisfaction is paramount. From Guidewire’s founding until today, this principle has driven and continues to drive everything we do: build quality products, sell them with integrity, and help customers go live and transform their businesses.

Feb
25
2013

Too often looking at poorly designed BI or analytics tools is like a punch in the gut: welcome to work – you’re going to be miserable. 

Feb
15
2013

“She is frequently kind
And she's suddenly cruel
She can do as she pleases
She's nobody's fool
But she can't be convicted
She's earned her degree…”

-          Billy Joel, American singer/songwriter

Feb
05
2013

On July 10, 2008, the Apple App Store opened with about 500 apps: over 40 billion app downloads later, from 500 million accounts, with a choice of more than 775,000 apps, you could logically draw the conclusion that making apps must be rather easy. Truthfully, the technical process is not exactly rocket science, but that, I think, misses the point.

Jan
18
2013

Here at Guidewire Live, we like to emphasize how easy we make it for customers to join: You install a simple extract program, and we take care of the rest. And when you log in to our apps, we want you to see meaning, not “big data”.

Jan
09
2013

You may wonder how Guidewire Live got its name. I’m not a parent and therefore have never been burdened with placing the name on a child who’ll have to live with it for life. Sure, I’ve named hamsters as a kid. I named my dogs Roxy and Mervin, even called a beat up pick-up truck Denise, but none of them (nor anyone else) particularly cared what they were called, so selecting their names didn’t present much pressure.

Dec
07
2012

Insurance carriers are obsessed with models. Catastrophe models, predictive models, statistical models – they are all the rage. Tyra Banks would be proud. Models (of the non-runway variety) are useful tools to answer questions like “what could happen” and “what might be”.  But these models are most useful when trying to speculate on the future. We should have better ways to evaluate the present and the past. 

Nov
30
2012

You’ve probably heard the stats. Things like, “more data is created every day than existed in the entire world back in 2003” (true). Or how about, “72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute”[1] (true). Impressive as they are, these kinds of stats share another important characteristic:  they are totally useless.

Nov
29
2012

As much as I’m tempted to just say “42”, this is a more interesting question than it seems on the surface. Many Guidewire customers have an enterprise guideline for environments that every development project must adhere to, and our products fit nicely into such a structure. Others are looking for guidance and a best practice recommendation from a vendor like Guidewire.

Nov
19
2012

There will be a new and regular series of blogs where members of the Guidewire Live team will be blogging our experiences and opinions on all things Guidewire Live and beyond.  We hope you’ll engage with us and give us your thoughts too.

Sep
19
2012

Even if you are a technology junkie like me, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the languages written for the Java Virtual Machine. If a few weeks pass and you haven’t heard of a new one, you probably aren’t paying attention (I just came across Loop the other day).

Aug
03
2012

We had the good fortune of starting Guidewire at a transformative time in the world of software engineering. It was in the early 2000's that people started really rethinking what it meant to write testable software. Some of the progress came through the advent of new tools and language constructs and from the sheer availability of computing power to do meaningful large-scale automated testing. But the real difference, for us, was in switching our heads around to put testing first.

Jun
27
2012

At Guidewire, we think of each of our carrier customers as family members: true partners in what will be a career-long journey together. Holding this metaphor in our heads makes it easier to put engineering efforts into the right context and to prioritize them, but it also means that we take on a variety of burdens and responsibilities that transcend the traditional vendor-purchaser "relationship". I'm going to write about some of those challenges in my next few blog entries.