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A comprehensive, holistic view of the technology is becoming a necessity for insurance intermediaries, said Chris Gagnon, director of strategic technology for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers in Washington. Business Insurance Associate Editor Bill Kenealy recently asked Mr. Gagnon about what the industry can do better from a technology perspective to meet business challenges.
In order to create effective usage of technology within their firms, brokers need to first devise a strategic technology roadmap that considers the entirety of their agency automation. Any new technology needs to be evaluated in terms of how it fits into this overall roadmap. With that said, a continued focus on customer-facing technology, mobile technology and insurance exchanges are of particular interest.
Technology that addresses internal efficiency should have a measurable effect on revenue per employee. Examples would include insurance exchanges, advances in agency management systems and federated identity systems. Technology that addresses direct customer interaction or focuses on value-added differentiation should demonstrate a direct-line correlation to an increase in revenue or retention rates. Examples would include customer portals and proprietary collaboration systems.
Technology is a practical application of process and workflow. Defining and consolidating best practices workflows within a brokerage, then effectively implementing them within agency technology systems represents the best approach to creating operational efficiency. A breakdown between the broker's optimal workflow and technology systems is one of the most common obstacles to effective technology use.
Standards are critical to the effective implementation of electronic insurance placement. Technology implementation is complicated exponentially by the existence of multiple methods and flavors of data exchange. With appropriate standards in place, software developers can rely on a baseline method to connect and integrate their systems.
From the perspective of a broker, insurance exchanges represent a path to increased efficiency. By operating within a common exchange for all placements brokers can recognize a consolidation of workflow and process, leading to greater efficiency and revenue per employee. Over time, the historical data available through the exchange can be used to identify trends and new opportunities providing a new level of business intelligence to the broker.