UNIQA Manages Product Development in Europe with Versatile VP/MS
- Deliver attractive products for all markets across multiple countries quickly and with a single tool
- VP/MS, CSC's product definition and modeling tool that allows creation of independent, re-usable product models for multi-channel and region deployment
- An efficient, cost-effective product management infrastructure
- Country units enabled to self-manage and UNIQA to achieve its growth objectives
Ambitious Business Growth
UNIQA Group Austria is using VP/MS to help deliver highly ambitious business growth. UNIQA has expanded from two to 21 European countries in just seven years and nearly doubled its accounted premiums in the same time span. VP/MS is managing product development in 10 of its 21 country operations so far.
UNIQA’s VP/MS product strategy supports health, life and non-life insurance. CSC’s solution provides a common platform and common business processes for acquired UNIQA businesses, delivering fast to market, cost-effective and reusable products.
UNIQA exploits the versatility of VP/MS. Country business units can respond flexibly to local market conditions and regulation. The VP/MS product development approach and comprehensive functionality also manages complex private health insurance claims benefits for their Austrian insurance business.
“UNIQA’s business plan is based on emerging business opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe,” says UNIQA’s VP/MS Competency Centre Manager, Yvonne Hempel. “VP/MS helps us to grasp those opportunities. It gives us an efficient and cost-effective single product management infrastructure across Europe, which also enables individual country units to manage their own businesses in their own ways.”
After it was formed in 2000, UNIQA quickly became Austria’s market leader for all insurance lines with a 22 percent share of the country’s business. Recognizing the potential for growth throughout Central and Eastern Europe, the insurer has acquired companies from all over the region in the past ten years.
UNIQA has positioned itself successfully in the region as an insurer that covers all industries. UNIQA now operates more than 40 insurance companies in 21 regional markets. Premium volume has climbed from EUR 2.6 billion to EUR 5.2 billion, with 38 percent of its business originating outside of Austria.
UNIQA needed a robust product development strategy to launch and support its growing business in so many countries. The over-arching aim was to deliver attractive products and offerings for all markets quickly and with a single set of tools. That strategy required a proven solution that could be integrated with disparate IT systems.
Resource and technology synergy was required to achieve group efficiency and competitiveness. The product strategy also had to reflect country variations in lines of business according to the strengths of each acquired company or local market opportunity. Austria has chosen to manage all insurance lines with VP/MS, whereas, for example, in the Czech Republic, the focus is initially on life and pensions, and in Hungary, it's on motor insurance.
UNIQA chose CSC's VP/MS as its strategic product engine because of its unmatched ability to meet the insurer’s requirements. VP/MS was first deployed in Austria before being introduced in nine other country operations. UNIQA and CSC Austria worked together on a project plan for a class-by-class implementation of the solution.
One of the main reasons for choosing VP/MS was that it fit UNIQA’s approach to technology deployment. Once the insurer obtained its first VP/MS presentation, it realized that IT development of a product should become an important part of the holistic business process instead of remaining solely an IT function. This technology-enabled business transformation is intended to free up IT resources to support operational technology. Responsibility now lies fully within the business. Resource bottlenecks are supported via a central VP/MS modeling center in Slovakia as part of UNIQA’s overall process strategy. VP/MS is designed to be used by product managers and has a proven track record as a business tool.
By putting VP/MS at the heart of its business, UNIQA has been able to maximize the reusability of its product models for each line of business. Products are modeled in German and English, and by using VP/MS representations of common calculations and business processes, they can be exchanged between business units with changes to data only dependent on local regulations.
As a result, UNIQA has cut down on delivery time to customers and operates as synergistically and cost-effectively as possible between different insurance markets. A single modular VP/MS product engine also cuts maintenance costs and provides an enduring platform for UNIQA’s continued business consolidation.
VP/MS flexibility is another key differentiator. VP/MS is a ‘software only’ solution that can be deployed in any country, as it contains no market or region specific content. It provides UNIQA with a sophisticated but flexible technical environment for managing its products.
UNIQA is reusing VP/MS insurance models extensively in different European country operations with modeling guidelines supporting quality assurance and country specific configurations providing country related product specialization (e.g. tax calculations).
For example, in its life business, UNIQA uses VP/MS for defining calculations, which are reused across the enterprise. These include calculations of premiums, reserves, profit sharing, surrender values, excess loss and benefits. UNIQA can rely on a single calculation strategy that introduces uniformity and reduces risk across the enterprise.
VP/MS offers value beyond fast and efficient product development. Because new products are integrated in the point of sale and back office systems, straight-through processing has become a reality for UNIQA. The company is considering other alternatives such as using VP/MS for collections or human resource management systems.
With VP/MS affecting so many of its multinational operations, UNIQA plans to achieve even greater benefits from its product strategy. It aims to further improve efficiency and cost savings from common processes and reusable modules. It wants to enhance its competitiveness across Central and Eastern Europe by delivering products to market even faster. UNIQA’s long-term strategy for VP/MS is to use it in every country in which it operates.
“Our VP/MS strategy is a major commitment of UNIQA’s,” says Hempel. “Any business strategy of this scale is likely to be challenging. However, if you look at the growth that strategy has helped to drive, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. I’m confident that VP/MS will continue to play a big part in our success in the years ahead.”