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Paul Rich from MOTOSI Consulting and Ben Bolton from Gracechurch Consulting discuss their insights on the implications of the delayed launch of NextGen PPL platform in the Lloyd's modernisation agenda
Why did the PPL / CGI contract collapse?
Paul: Well, I think that, you know, whilst I'm I'm not intimately involved with the relationships in place, the commercial sort of aspects of all of this, I think just from my general sense at a distance and also speaking to people who perhaps are a little bit closer to [the situation], that just seems to have been a bit of a breakdown in [...] the sort of expectations that were stated when this was originally sort of scoped out and where they are and their delivery at the moment. There's obviously something that has gone on within within the project, but the delivery seems to have stalled. Who knows exactly what the mechanics of this particular relationship breakdown were? I think we can probably all guess that, you know, [...] there's lots of dynamics in play here in politics. It's going to be there. There's going to be all sorts of different sort of competing egos. And it's like any project that is run by committee. And that's what this one is particularly. And I think that's where the advantage of the sort of commercial offerings [...] do sort of proceed far more effectively. You know, they're not run by different organisations with different sort of competing sort of stakeholder managers and everything. It's disappointing, but not surprising. The implications, who knows, really, I think in the future will probably in the short to medium term, we'll probably see a little bit of a scramble by other technology provisions to sort of come into this particular space. But I think it's also worth pointing out that people [are] doing a job. You know, the volumes going through. People were certainly led to believe they are strong. They've been increasing, obviously, through Covid in the situation that everyone's been putting in there. But I think that the the future roadmap and to push it out now to, what, a year from now, [...] you've got to question its ongoing sort of viability in its current form. Is it going to reposition itself? What will happen? Who knows?
Jeremy: Yeah, it's really interesting that they've pushed that out so far. I mean, if you look at any of the technology, and Ben [has] probably got some insight on this, you know, [...] the updates are not done on an annual or binding basis anymore, [...] they're continually updated. Yeah. And they take into account user feedback. And then, you know, the next iteration comes through. I think [...] that's the most disappointing thing for for me.
Ben: Yeah. I think just I think that's absolutely right. I mean, I think the research that we've done probably, you know it's al, prior to this happening and who knows whether any users are even aware of this happening. You know, it's more the kind of, you know, cognition, I suppose, isn't it, because it's not exactly been publicised or there's no kind of transparent, open statement about what it means, which is a shame. I think that's a real shame that we've got that situation now in London where we're not told, especially when so much money has been spent as well. I think people I think, you know, I think Burgess & Bolton deserve to know, but I genuinely think that actually the rest of the market who has a stake in this deserves to know more about this. And you just feel, God, there's no sort of openness, but just go back to the research that we were doing - it was all about user experience. I think the you know, the frustration, I think with PPL is not that it doesn't, as Paul said rightly, but it does do a job. But it's quite a narrow job. And I think the expectation is there needs to be a lot more. And that's not all about, you know, integration with back office systems. That would all be very nice. And people would always ask for those things. It's more about just the user experience, the simple stuff. Could we could we do queries on this sort of stuff? You know, it's really, really simple things that any [...] other piece of software in this day and age should be able to do. But there's been no movement. That's what I'm saying, is it's been promised and it hasn't happened. So this now is another, you know, I think is another kind of nail in the coffin, because [...] it's obviously a massive problem for them. This wouldn't have happened if they could possibly help it. And they're back to square one. So I guess the date they've put it's just a guess, really, late 2022. Well, that's basically what you'd say if you didn't want it to be 2023 and you didn't have any thought that it would really happen in 2022. So, you read between the lines and those users I think are just going to look at this once they get this, and effectively know that it's going to be no real proper update, so the whole thing that was promised is not going to happen for another year and a half or two years or maybe never. Well, you know, I just go I'd kind of go "sod it". [...] If I'm an underachiever, a broker worth my soul, and [...] I'd kind of go to a place or be putting pressure on my management to say, "just ditch, I guess, something else that we can use. I'm not waiting around for two years for this thing". Especially with Lloyd's track record.
Paul: Absolutely, I think in some ways, the word for me that really sort of springs to my mind in all of this is confidence. You know, this from the outside looking in. You know, I'm on the outside looking in and and I'm thinking, you know, how is this come to be? But more importantly, how does this look from the outside looking into the London market? You know, this is a pillar of [...] its messaging to the rest of the world, that we want this [...] to be a globally sort of accepted insurance marketplace where it's easy, seamless and sort of frictionless to do business. But if we can't actually sort out one of those fundamental trading sort of transactional platforms, I just wonder how much more people can actually take. And I think that [...] this is something which needs to be managed very, very carefully.
Ben: And you're right. It's the flagship, isn't it, really? I mean [...] when you when you think about it all the back office stuff, of course, we all know, technologists know that's important [...] and claims and all that. But fundamentally, the market is driven by sales of insurance and broking and trading. And [...] if the premise of future Lloyd's really was really about all of that and this has been the least well managed part of it, the bit that they've pretty much handed over to the open market and now ostensibly is just, you know, floundering, really in terms of delivery. So you're right, it is about confidence when the flagship part of this doesn't deliver. And I'd be interested to see over the next few days because, you know, for the next few weeks as to whether you get kind of falling out between LIBBA and people like that or involved, you know, because it's like kind of puts them on the spot a bit, doesn't it?
Paul: It does, absolutely it does. I think as well that we we you guys have talked about this on [Burgess & Bolton] a great deal. A lot of this can be sort of drilled down to customer user experience. And I think people's expectations are just so much more that. And when it falls, sure, people aren't as accepting of that as perhaps they were because they realised that the way in which technology provisions are delivered, they're far more agile than they used to be 5 years ago and 10 years ago where this would probably, quite possibly have happened. And it has happened with other market wide initiatives. But in this day and age, I just don't think that there is an acceptance or tolerance that this this kind of thing can happen. This is something which is unacceptable in many people's eyes.
Ben: Yes. And the other thing, I suppose, is that with the circumstances really mattered then, because context is everything. So we just had the pandemic and we've had the blowing of the trumpet about how brilliant PPL was and saved the market and so on. And yet, you know, people's memories are quite short, and I think they'll say "now we actually have to come out of that and we have to get on with business and we want to do things and we want to trade properly". And I think we're going to quickly evolve into those things that you mentioned, where demands or pretty much expectations, you know, we say customer expectations have risen, but broken expectations will have risen. People in these jobs who are going to say, "I'm going to work hybrid jobs from home and [...], you know, in the office and on my phone and everything else", if that's even partially correct, then what we've got is not fit for purpose. And it's not like other companies are not coming in. I think you're right about the land grab. I think that skills will be coming in [...] and others will come in with with this. And white space should should should do too well, I suppose, out of all of this.
Paul: I'm sure in the short term, there probably is within [...] white space and other places and platforms. [They] won't be rubbing their hands with glee at this. You know, I don't think that this isn't about, you know, mocking the project. We all, as I said earlier, we all want this to succeed. This is fundamentally important to the market. But something has gone terribly wrong for this to have happened in this day and age at the - such a critical moment in the market's evolution. There is so much going on at the moment, so much change going on right across the marketplace and for your cornerstone, you know, initiative to be stumbling and, well, on the face of it, failing, this is a huge thing.
Ben: One of the things we talk about a lot, obviously, is customer focus. And we're you know, we're strong believers. I'm a strong believer that the market needs much, much more customer focus. Arguably, Whitespace has got customer focus and PPL was kind of more of a functional kind of offering really to to fill a gap and then to be developed. And the promise was to develop it. I just wonder whether really in the end, you know, in competitive markets, you really have to have businesses and teams that work really hard at that customer focus and make that work, otherwise they're going to keep on failing because people don't buy that. Ultimately, they don't use it. They don't want you. You can mandate it for only so long, can't you?
Paul: Absolutely, yeah, of course you can. You've got to have that kind of groundswell of support for and there has been, I'm sure, for the use of these platforms, we can all see it's a common sense, no brainer. But that's just something that has failed in terms of [...] the delivery.
Ben: Yeah, and I think the goodwill can only last so long, can't it? And that's what I'd say from the research, is that lots of people said, yes, it has been fine. You know, it's been kind of okay for doing a narrow range of things around binding policies, but actually we now need something that's 21st Century that does more than this. And they are very adamant about that. So I don't think you've got much - I don't think Lloyd's the market has much time to make sure that people are happy, you know, content with that, and they can't be going at a year or more now, is is the worst bit of this, I think.
Paul: Yeah. Yeah, I absolutely agree with you. I think the uncertainty that this creates, you know if you can imagine yourself, if you're a CTO or CIO at a big sort of organisation, the amount of time, effort and resources that's been sort of put into this particular project, you know, shoehorning it, making it work, doing a job, and then for this to happen, you know, businesses like certainty or an element as much certainty as they possibly can. And if you're thinking, well, I'm not going to have a core functioning platform in my business for at least 12 months, you're going to have to have a rethink of your whole strategy of engagement, your distribution strategy, your commercial relationships. Everything is kind of predicated on these platforms actually working and doing the job they do. And if it doesn't, you're going to have to have a rethink and think, "OK, do we align ourselves to other platforms? Other distribution models?" All sorts of different things. So I don't think - this isn't just about technology doing or not doing a job, I think it is far bigger than that. And it's something symptomatic of sometimes the projects that have tried to do try to get delivered in this way and do fall short. We've seen it before. So therefore, it's not a surprise, it is a disappointment. I just hope that something can be sort of remedied from this and that Lloyds does take a really good, hard look at itself and understand the challenges and why this has happened and then go to the market and say, "help us". You know, there is there is a market wanting to help.
Jeremy: Well, thanks, Paul, for giving us some insight into that story, we'll keep an eye on it and no doubt we'll invite you back on this as the as the dust settles and the landscape [...] starts to show itself. But thanks very much for coming on and giving us that insight.
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