Could no code technology solve the age old problem of innovating around multiple legacy platforms? Insurance Times explores the opportunities this technology could hold for the industry and whether it could render insurtechs obsolete

No code technology could be an untapped opportunity for the insurance industry and the London market at a time when digitalisation is vital due to coronavirus-induced homeworking.

This type of tech has been tipped to be the “next big thing” by many - including 360Globalnet’s chief executive Paul Stanley - as it puts IT change directly in the hands of businesses. 

This is because no code technology can be designed and implemented by non-IT persons as there is no programming or coding required. Stanley likened the tech to Lego blocks, as it can assembled or built as required, with all its hosting and infrastructure based in the cloud.

Insurtechs like 360Globalnet used no code technology to build a Covid-19 track and trace app in three hours, 

The technology is gaining further traction in the market with the likes of Direct Line, Allianz, Esure and Hannover Re all using some form of it.

Could this technology solve the age old problem of innovating around the obstacle of multiple legacy systems? No code technology has the agility to sit on top of numerous legacy systems, allowing firms to migrate easily. It can also be implemented by anyone, which negates the need for a specialist IT person.

Currently, many insurers partner with insurtechs to tap into technology like blockchain or artificial intelligence to digitise parts of their business. 

Insurance Times explores how no code technology could be of service to an industry that has been forced to innovate due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Plus, will further adoption of this new technology phase out the need for insurtechs?

No code or low code

The terms ‘no code’ and ‘low code’ are often used interchangeably, but speed to market underpins them both. 

Toby MacLachlan, managing director at software house, Ignite Insurance Systems, told Insurance Times: “To my mind, they are absolutely the same thing.

”The reason they are used interchangeably is because there are companies out there that do no code solutions, they are called [this] because they want people to feel that they can do everything within the solution.

“Low code is a way of describing exactly the same thing, but accepting that there are limitations to it.”

An example of a limitation is integration with a payment provider - this cannot be done with no code technology because of the interface and lack of tools.

Netcall’s hyper automation and insurance specialist James Lawrence described low code as “a way of building applications without the need for more traditional coding languages”.

Future at Lloyd’s

Referring to the shift between Blueprint One and Blueprint Two within the Future at Lloyd’s initiative, James Willison, managing director at Web Connectivity, a wholly owned subsidiary of Zywave, said: “It is much more about open architecture - I think this is going to be seen in the systems used in the London market. There’s no single trading platform. I think there are now 19 or so that have been authorised by Lloyd’s.

“From an underwriting or company point of view, they then have to deal with these multiple systems – API [Application Programming Interface] connectivity being key.”

Willison is adamant that having a consistent data record is a positive step for the London market and believes this is where low code tech can be useful, as it can be rapidly deployed and consolidate multiple systems.

Lawrence added that many firms are also looking at “incremental iterative improvements on what they currently have” and are shying away from ripping out entire core systems - this flags that no code technology’s ability to layer on top of existing legacy systems could be an attractive prospect for market participants.

Technology in a box

One of the challenges of no code technology, however, is that it is unsupervised and unstructured - MacLachlan described it as ”certainly very powerful, but it needs to be curated”. 

He continued: “While it’s great from an agility point of view there are serious repercussions for data integrity and communications.”

For Peter Clarke, Insurercore’s managing director, the limitation of no code technology is the extent to which it can be tailored.

“A no code platform can take [firms] some of the way, but there will always be that 10% extra. I think it’s a great stepping stone for the market to get some of the basic workflows modernised, but we need to look at more advanced technologies,” Clarke said. 

“Leveraging data is the most important step the insurance market can make. Technology out of a box is always limited.”

Only as good as its data

Although MacLachlan said there may come a day when no code platforms are so good they are beyond the capability of insurtechs, that day is not soon.

Brokers are constantly coming up with ideas – new ways to communicate with customers or manage their policy. [But] no code is only as good as it has been programmed to be and if it doesn’t include Apple Pay or a chatbot [for example], then it’s simply not possible to [accommodate new ideas],” he continued.

“While brokers carry on innovating and customers’ digital experience continues, there will always be a place for insurtech because technology is not just simply enabling, it’s also allowing ideas to become reality [and] constantly evolving the digital journey, which is what we are helping our brokers with.

“Many people complain that insurance is a slow industry - this is only true to a certain extent. One of the great barriers to entry for insurtechs is legacy systems in the major providers or brokers,” MacLachlan added.

This is because at some point, insurtechs must integrate with these systems. MacLachlan therefore sees no code technology as an opportunity for insurtechs and believes the most successful insurtechs recognise these legacy constraints.

“Where no code has its place is where things are stuck in legacy, like rate changes, document changes and amending the user interface,” he added. However, it might not be useful for account packages that are detailed and heavily regulated. 

Meanwhile, Willison said the “possibilities are endless” regarding no code tech, while Stanley predicts that “the future will be dominated by no code” as the simplification of complex tasks seems to now be a global trend.

No code and low code - what is it?

No code technology is a development platform for building software applications without the need for coding. Low code is similar, but a small section of coding is needed. A drag and drop interface is used to build applications.

The technology is about five to six years old and is considered an evolution of previous technology, such as blockchain.

What’s so good about it?

No code technology can sit on top of multiple legacy systems, circumventing having to deal with difficult migration dilemmas. It can be deployed at speed and by a non-IT specialist, which saves time and money as well as offering more control. 

Who’s using it?

Direct Line, Allianz, Esure and Hannover Re are all using some form of no code technology.

360Globalnet’s chief executive Paul Stanley used no code technology to build a Covid-19 Track and Trace system, while Ignite Systems uses no code to manage policy administration.

What are the disadvantages?

It is not fool proof and there are limits as to how much it can be tailored per business. Plus, certain applications - such as payment systems - may need to sit externally.

No code technology is only ever as good as the data used to build it.

Is it all hype?

The main advantage of no code technology is speed to market. Over the last 12 months, every organisation has had to have their own digital strategy. While many firms are using technology like artificial intelligence, this still needs to have an interface so that staff can use it - this is where no code tech could prove useful.