Spreading the word about data-based processes
You might call Graham Card a data-based process evangelist.
Mr Card, senior management consultant at Web Connectivity Limited in London, usually visits Bermuda twice a year, spreading the word about the advantages of ditching paper in favour of data-based processes.
“WCL provides the technology for companies to run data-based processes,” Mr Card said. “The island is a strong client base for us.”
Mr Card has seven clients here, mostly insurance and reinsurance companies.
“Most of them use a hosted solution,” he said. “They log on via the web and undertake business processes. Out of that, they get their money quicker, reduce error rates and gain efficiencies.”
His goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of going high-tech with business processes.
“If you are a start-up in Bermuda and you are not pulling any legacy of past operations, why on earth would you start with paper based processes if you could start with data?” Mr Card said. “That gives a lot of Bermudian start-ups a unique opportunity to establish themselves.”
He said a lot of energy can be tied up in pushing paper around an office. “Holes have to be punched,” he said. “It has to be stapled. It has to be filed.”
Switching to data-based processes frees up staff to do more important things.
And he said when you are dealing with electronic data, nothing gets lost.
“In fact, we hold all the dripping detail of the data from the point it is received by a reinsurer to the point that it is fully processed,” he said.
He said doing things this way made it easier for insurance companies to analyse things like key performance metrics, and credit control functions.
“It sounds bland to say they exchange data and not paper, but the outcome is much richer than that,” he said.
Mr Card said that during his 32 years in insurance industry accounts, he pushed a “ridiculous” amount of paper.
“If you work in a fiduciary role, there is a real requirement on you to always maintain a record of all the actions and activities you have taken and the financial movements that have occurred,” Mr Card said.
He first saw the light at a business conference in Rüschlikon, Zurich, Switzerland.
An employee from Swiss Re described the opportunity to improve processes in the insurance industry by using structured data, that is data that follows a persistent order that can easily be accessed by people and computer programmes.
“He was basically using data messaging to replace insurance documents such as invoices and statements of accounting,” Mr Card said. “It was a lightbulb moment for me. It appealed to me because I had spent 20 years trying to manage people through horrendous paper based processes that were incredibly inefficient.”
At the time he was working for Willis Towers Watson where he was executive director, accounting and settlement. After Switzerland, he and other people from the conference put their heads together and discussed how they could change the way the insurance and reinsurance industry did business.
“We had to find a non contentious area to affect change,” he said. “We could not start at the front end. So we picked accounting. Out of that meeting, came the Rüschlikon Initiative. That has been an initiative sponsored by major insurance, insurers, reinsurers, brokers since about 2008.”
The Rüschlikon Initiative connects leading players of the insurance and reinsurance industry to advanced processes such as risk placing, technical accounting, claims and settlement using the Acord Global Reinsurance and Large Commercial Standards.
After the conference, Mr Card moved into application design and business process design at Willis. At the time the company was building a new system.
“We designed our new system to be able to interact with structured data,” Mr Card said. “I was then given the task to find reinsurers to undertake messaging and the e-accounting process with.”
He worked with Tokio Marine and Fire, Munich Re, and other major reinsurers globally, to get them on board with Willis.
“We managed to move about 80 per cent of our transactional flow through a message-based process,” he said.
He was hired by WCL in 2013. He takes care of their client engagements at different levels.
“I have the business knowledge to have good conversations about how they can derive the benefits of using our technology,” Mr Card said. “We provide companies with the connection points to exchange data. We provide them with a user interface where they can manage that data flow and do clever things like send e-mails, raise queries or send acceptances back. Typically, it is a conversation between a broker and a reinsurer.”
Mr Card said Bermuda has seen a lot of growth in reinsurance solutions and service providers.
“I am working with more and more companies on the island that don’t have that history of starting on paper,” he said.
In some ways, he has found Bermuda more open to what he is preaching than some companies in London.
“It has only taken London until now to move from a quill pen,” he joked. “It is not easy to bring about change. In the market here in Bermuda most companies have self definition and can choose the directions they take. It is a unique opportunity.”