An IT system is a complex computer program or a set of interacting programs designed to perform specific functions. Here we will focus on the systems responsible for collecting, processing and sharing insurance data. They reflect a specific real-world information, such as e.g., policy data, insured contact information, risks covered, premium collected and claims paid. Insurance data are any information that insurers has gathered and also external information that can be used by insurers in their business. Insurance reality can be described with a “digital language” using the data, whose regular structure allows them to be processed by the computer. As a result, it is possible to execute a number of tasks quickly. Let’s think about quarterly sales results calculated for a given line of business in a given region without the use of a computer system – yes, it is possible but no one has been doing it for years. So what makes a computer system?
Computer hardware – each of us would think at this point about our own computer (formerly PC, now a portable notebook, tablet or smartphone). But we must keep in mind more powerful computers with broader capabilities, i.e. servers. Their main task is to store and share databases and programs to a large number of users. PCs are personal as we usually use them alone, while servers are used by many people at once. We usually do not see servers as they are secured in server rooms or data centers. We access them via network or Internet and often do not know where they are located. Without hardware programs cannot be run. Hardware is a must.
An operating system i.e. OS – most of us have heard about Windows, Linux, and some of us about iOS or Android. Without these programs hardware would be just useless “junk”. The operating system initiates and controls computer operation (including servers, smartphones and tablets). It consists of numerous “smaller” programs, whose functionality “animates” the computer and allows us to work with it.
Utility software are programs that make us work on our computers, even though we are not aware of them. The example of such software are device drivers or middleware tools. Owing to them our computer can work with external devices (such as printers and network cards). Another example of utility software is a database management system. The database provides us with a complete set of functions that allow us to easily collect, search and browse the data. Most insurance company employees work with databases on a daily basis.
Business software, i.e. application software are programs that we use to perform our tasks. It includes office software (word processing, spreadsheets), finance and accounting systems, payroll applications and others used by the users regardless of their business activity profiles. Finally, we have systems to support information and decision-making processes in insurance companies, including, among others:
- new business
- sales and underwriting
- policy administration
- settlements and financial-accounting services
- sales network management and remuneration
- claims adjustment
- reporting and analyses
- investment activities
- enterprise content management and work-flow.
Author: Mariusz Janczewski – Business Development Manager, Comarch SA
The article was published in “Dziennik Ubezpieczeniowy” no 3451, 17.03.2014