Technology is like a foreign language to most of us. Get it right and it could transform into an incredible competitive advantage. Get it wrong and, well, you try, try again.
In 2010 and 2011, this very column often served as my sounding board to promote and encourage adoption of an interoperable system that was aimed at enhancing our business. We saw an opportunity to make day-to-day workflow more efficient, and went for it. In the end it didn’t fly, but there were lessons learned that we can apply to the next solution as we continue to think forward. Still, our message about technology and innovation then was the same as it is now: If we don’t let go of our engrained ideas of how to service customers, we will find ourselves a dying breed.
This month, you’ll read about progress being made around agency management systems, digital business models and carrier connectivity. The need for information collection and better customer experience are driving new technology developments and could change the way our business is conducted. It’s the stuff of innovation we’ve been waiting for.
Take creativity surrounding the health care exchanges, for example.
While some brokers see no option but to throw in the towel, others (some of you, in fact) are licking your chops and taking Obamacare by the proverbial horns. You’re going toe-to-toe with the feds and are creating your own exchanges, which could yield significant revenue for your firms.
I love the attitude.
An undertaking like this will no doubt require an extremely sophisticated way of marketing and delivering systems to consumers who are looking at brokers for a solution. And with each new generation of discoveries and applications, there is no room to shy away from technology.
Council member firms drive 85% of commercial business in the U.S. and spend an average of 3-6% of their revenue on internal technology. The dollars are in the system and the business is there for the taking. Many of you know this and are setting a great example of using creative ways to elevate your business to the next level.
The time is now to focus on developing and defining a better strategic approach to technology, and putting the customer at the center of the equation. There will be pain points, but the risk of not having the requisite technology infrastructure in place to support your growing business needs is far worse.
There’s nothing that should stop our industry from one day being fluent in technology. We have brain power and vision. We’re not hesitant to invest or put money on the table.
So what’s the issue?
Technology inevitably opens up new questions of risk and insurance. It’s how we respond that matters.