I just read an interesting article on www.propertycasualty360.com entitled “Building IT Systems Like They Used To” http://bit.ly/KOt8jh. In the article discussed whether or not modern policy administration systems will match the longevity of the legacy systems that insurance companies are still using.  I have a few thoughts on the subject I would like to share.

I don’t believe it is possible for modern policy administration systems to have the longevity of legacy systems because the user base has changed and technology improvements continue to accelerate.  When legacy systems were being developed and implemented users did not have computers at home so they never had anything to compare with their experience at work with. Today most users have a pc at home, which is usually running a more modern OS than at work, and a growing number have a PC, a tablet and a smartphone.  This has and will continue to give business leaders and IT headaches.  Users are demanding that their work systems and user experience (UX) be as good as what they have at home.

In addition, the Millennials grew up with computers, laptops and video games and are sophisticated users. They know a good user UX when they see it and feel it. The are in the marketplace and their impact is being felt now.  This will only be accelerated when the “iGeneration” or the “Wii Generation” or whatever we wind up calling it starts entering the marketplace.

Lastly, technology is improving at a tremendous rate and the ability to migrate from one system to another is getting easier. With a services based architecture where solutions are very componentized and hidden behind interfaces based on XML, you can swap out systems without the consumer of those services even noticing. We have also improved our ability to build and implement new systems.  When the legacy systems where being built and deployed it took years and sometimes decades for the systems to be complete. Today projects of huge scale are being completed in months not years. Ironically the projects that often take longer then a year are those migrating from legacy systems.  This is largely due to the lack of documentation or understanding of the legacy applications idiosyncrasies. Which I believe contributes the the longevity of legacy systems.

So will modern policy administration systems have the same longevity of legacy systems? I would argue no.  Especially since with each passing year we continue to operate and maintain that legacy application making the longevity even longer and harder to beat.