Long before millennials were labelled as "snowflakes", companies have been building bespoke internal systems that cater to esoteric, and occasionally eccentric needs of their various departments and products. That Goldman Sachs employs more engineers than Facebook tells its own story. Companies (that have no stated ambition to become technology businesses) have become reliant on an army of people who know "our systems".
The insurance sector and especially the London Market has made this something of a... specialty. Genuinely held back by the complexity and sheer variety of products, lines of business and insurer distribution strategies, it is easy to see why many initiatives, both internal and market wide, end up abandoned (or at least unloved). Pleasing everyone has sometimes seemed impossible.
At last, however, the future is looking brighter. New generation tools for insurers are providing flexible platforms that can be configured by a business, to support their product and distribution strategies, without needing a computer science degree. Effective use of the cloud and intuitive user interfaces so common in other sectors, can do away with the multitude of expensive internal systems and processes that map and process data. Best of all, insurance technology firms are building these products with core processes and functionality straight out of the box, enabling their clients to focus on what matters - their value propositions.
Perhaps the snowflakes' time has come.
As the existential threat inherent in older “legacy” systems becomes clearer to executives, there is a danger such difficulties will be seen solely as IT problems rather than as wider business concerns. Legacy systems are a reflection of a company’s past and present; they mirror both the complexity of the world they were developed for and that they currently operate in. If you peel away a system’s layers you see code and data flows that reflect rules governing the business — some nuanced, some long forgotten — which determine how a computer should process information. As the business changes, new code is layered over existing code.