Willis Towers Watson Networks is one of the world’s largest and most progressive insurance intermediaries. It offers regional insurance brokers the opportunity to retain their independence, yet tap into an impressive network of strategic relationships, resources and capabilities including state-of-the-art IT systems and support. Its broker members typically provide policies ranging from employee liability to fleet insurance to business customers.
As a membership organisation, Willis Towers Watson Networks is continually looking for new ways to innovate and add value for its clients, to help them stay competitive in a crowded market. During a brainstorming session at an annual member conference, members said it would be useful if they could have a mobile app to make it easier for their clients to interact with them.
As well as providing easy access to policy information and other resources, this would simplify the process of recording details and evidence of incidents, for example – if a company vehicle was involved in a road accident. Says IT director Tom Gill, “Smartphones are so prevalent now: it makes perfect sense to have a mobile communications tool so clients can stay in touch with their brokers in more dynamic ways.”
Smartphones are so prevalent now: it makes perfect sense to have a mobile communications tool so clients can stay in touch with their brokers in more dynamic ways.
There were two main considerations for the proposed app. Firstly, each broker wanted to be able to customise it using their own logo and colour scheme. Secondly, the app needed to work across the different mobile platforms brokers’ clients could be using – iPhones, Android devices and Windows phones. Yet with up to 90 brokers in the UK potentially interested in offering the app to their clients, Willis Towers Watson Networks needed to avoid a situation where it could potentially be developing and supporting 270 different versions of the same app!
DCSL Software was the natural choice to develop the new app, having provided software development services to Willis Towers Watson Networks for a number of years. The internal IT team knew from experience that DCSL was a very responsive and agile company, able to develop a prototype product very quickly and circumvent the long, complex and expensive development cycles commonly seen with larger vendors.
We didn’t want to go through a full tender, and we knew how DCSL worked so we just went down to their offices for a couple of days knowing we’d be able to see a mock-up very quickly.
Another benefit of using DCSL again was the ability to harness the administrative functions of a secure document portal it had previously developed for Willis Towers Watson Networks. The platform, known as My Alexsys, is used to manage members’ clients’ insurance contracts: each broker has its own customised presence on the portal. By creating the app as an integrated extension of this existing system, DCSL was able to save Willis Towers Watson Networks a lot of time and money.
DCSL used a cross-platform development software from Xamarin to simplify the development of the mobile app for different devices, using a single code base. This kept the development cycle down to just six months initially, and will simplify ongoing updates and maintenance.
DCSL is hosting the software in a private cloud at a secure data centre, as it does with the My Alexsys platform, removing a further layer of admin for Willis Towers Watson Networks.
It has also created a demo app for Willis Towers Watson Networks to use when pitching to prospective members, to show new brokers how their own app would look using their respective logo and colours. “It’s a great incremental feature to be able to offer,” Mr Gill says.
The new mobile app, MyBrokerTM, is currently offered by 35 brokers who use it to stay more closely connected to their clients, and to provide mobile policy access and incident recording facilities to those businesses and fast, one-tap links to the broker’s social media feeds.
As early adopters have provided feedback, DCSL has been adapting and honing the app to provide further enhancements, and new features will be added in due course. “Generation X and Y brokers and their clients – those with younger managers – like the app especially,” Mr Gill notes.
Members pay for the mobile facility, which they offer as a free perk to their insurance clients – enhancing the customer experience. This in turn reflects well on Willis Towers Watson Networks. “The fact that we can support all of the main mobile platforms, and offer individual broker configuration, is something none of our competitors can match,” he adds.
The fact that we can support all of the main mobile platforms, and offer individual broker configuration, is something none of our competitors can match,
Willis Towers Watson Networks estimates that it has saved 70% in development and maintenance costs by using DCSL Software over a bigger software vendor, while the speed of development was “much faster” due to its collaborative approach, rapid prototyping, and expertise in the latest software tools and techniques. “DCSL embraces new technologies, getting there before many other companies do,” Mr Gill comments.
DCSL embraces new technologies, getting there before many other companies do,
The MyBrokerTM name is now a registered trademark and the app has been such a hit that it was recently shortlisted for the Insurance Times App of the Year award. For Willis Towers Watson Networks, it’s another DCSL success story. “They’re incredibly responsive – there’s much less red tape than you get with bigger vendors,” Mr Gill concludes. “This cuts the complexity, cost and time to market, with a great result.”