2015: Back to the Future- CIO Insurance Summit 10/6/15-10/7/15

Mitch Wein

I recently attended the CIO Insurance Summit in Chicago. Interestingly enough the Chicago Cubs had the DeLorean from “Back to the Future” just outside the hotel. This was because in the movie “Back to the Future Part 2”, the Cubs finally win the World Series in October, 2015. Of course, that evening they won a wild card game, putting them on track to be in the playoffs and possibly win the World Series, a feat not done since 1908. Well, we have arrived in the future, which was clear from the conference. There were a couple of overriding themes in the conference: digital, data and predictive analytics, customer driven services, business driven agility and maximizing IT investment and value. Let’s explore each of these in further detail:

Digital. Every speaker in the conference talked about digital, digital, and more digital. What struck me were two pictures that SAP showed of the people in Vatican Square in 2005 and 2013 when the Popes were selected. In the 2005 picture, there is only one person holding up a phone and it is a flip phone. In the 2013 picture, everyone was holding a smartphone or a tablet to take a picture. What a change in just a few short years.

As a result, expectations of how to interface with a financial services provider has changed. It started with banking but now it has reached insurance. For everyone speaking, the connection between the agent’s or customer’s digital device into back end business services and capabilities utilizing automated workflow was a minimum requirement. Agents themselves need to adapt to this new reality.

While none of the speakers expected agents to disappear, all expected the agents to be augmented by technology in everything they do. Speakers talked about this customer experience being woven together through multiple clouds and different virtual organizations throughout multiple locations across the world. One speaker said we had moved from the “connected era” to the “interconnected era”. But there are challenges that were pointed out. Many insurers are still not well positioned for Omni-channel delivery. Additionally, may carriers can’t deliver solutions quickly using a bi-modal approach to test out these solutions and learn and evolve them in a highly nimble manner.  All the speakers talked about using “Fast IT” for mobile and analytics. But to create ideas to roll out quickly, one speaker said these ideas must come from empathy with the customer and the difficulty with the current customer experience.

Shortages of people who have key skills in architecture and information security were cited as challenges limiting the ability to move forward. Many carriers were retraining people with legacy skills on new technology because of the value of their knowledge of the business processes. Insurers still have a long way to go. One speaker pointed out that 44% of clients had no contact with their carrier in the last 18 months and only 17% of clients are happy with the communications from their carrier. NTT Data has created a digital maturity model to help carriers understand where they are on their digital journey. One carrier CISO noted that, from his perspective, there was a “negative unemployment rate for the skills needed in their organization”. That’s a notable wakeup call to some of the challenges that have arrived with The Future.

Data & Predictive Analytics. One of the speakers noted that 64% of all Americans have smartphones generating data.  Automobiles have shifted from mechanical based devices to software based devices, with as much as 40% of the cost of new cars attributed to software and related electronics. New cars are turning into computers and networks on wheels. The speaker from Equinix pointed out that a fully instrumented car in the near future is expected to generate 25 gigs of data per hour! And what about fully instrumented human beings. Exponentially more data!! What about sensors generating data about homes, equipment, etc. Where will all this data go? How will it be governed? How long will it be retained and how will it be secured? Of course the data will be both structured and unstructured.

Virtually all of the speakers talked about the need to use all of this data within an integrated insurance workflow. It is not really about more data but additional insight and actionable information from the data. An example would be incorporating real-time data into underwriting; with the scoring of this data driving workflow.

The single view of the customer is a challenge that many speakers discussed. Another challenge is data ownership. One example given here was real-time data about water flowing through the sewer system of a city in California and being geo-visualized on top of locations of highways, schools and factories. When the water main breaks, it will potentially close a school or damage the equipment in a nearby factory. Whose data is it? The city, the factory, the insurance company, the people who maintain the valves of the sewer system? Who owns the data and how it can be used and shared becomes a big issue.

Customer Driven Services. Channel consistency was much discussed by the speakers. The importance of architecture in delivering this consistency was also noted. GMC Software talked about tools that allowed design teams and compliance to see what was being communicated across channels all at the same time and be able to make consistent changes all at once. New technology capabilities were seen by the speakers as enabling customer driven services. Service abstraction through REST APIs and PaaS were highlighted.  The importance of REST in particular led IBM to acquire Strongloop. IBM talked about how Strongloop enterprise Node generates REST interfaces automatically, dramatically speeding up development. “Fail fast and moving on” was a mantra that one speaker emphasized when discussing how to leverage these tools and bring new capabilities to market quickly.

Underlying everything was the notion that customers do not need intermediaries to gather information about insurance products and can and contrast products themselves. One speaker pointed out that insurance offerings need to make the insured’s life better. Offering lifestyle, driving suggestions, or recommendations on maintenance for homes or equipment will generate discounts but also prevent losses and increase the quality of people’s lives. One speaker mentioned that a carrier was actually taking a piece of the premium paid and putting it into a retirement account for the insured if there was no claim in 3 or more years.

Business Driven Agility. Many presenters talked about bi-modal IT. Here, “Fast IT” apps can be delivered quickly and changed easily to meet customer expectations. The “Fast IT” apps are logically separated from Core legacy systems that may still need to evolve using structured slower methods.  There were a number of examples identified in the conference. EasyJet in the UK was identified as having created a whole new experience for the customer. What was interesting was that the seat selection part of the process was running on a Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure, yet the interface the customer sees is seamless.

Another interesting example was the Snapsheet app (http://www.snapsheetapp.com/#claims) for mobile devices which is carrier branded and can be downloaded in real time and used to estimate claims loss by capturing images of the damaged car. We heard from Accenture about AXA Equitable using Duck Creek Rating to deliver a new direct channel in three months. IBM talked about how firms like Primerica were able to reduce mobile application development from 18 months to 5 months.

Maximizing IT Investment and Value. Investment is being redirected to core system replacements, data analytics, mobile, cloud and software as a service architectures in order to increase agility. It was noted that these were formerly emerging technologies that have now emerged. Another element of maximizing IT investment was that all of the presenters talked of breaking down large projects into small (and faster) deliverables.  The Allstate policy administration 3 year replacement program delivered intermediate value every few months. CNA discussed using Waterfall and Agile for large projects but also having a bi-modal delivery process for small projects delivered in 60 days where return could be measured quickly. Prudential talked about “Running IT like a Business” utilizing a plan, build, run model to look at IT’s operating model, process and controls, application portfolio management and technology roadmap.

Running IT as a strategic partner which is part of the business as opposed to being a service provider to the business was deemed critical to ultimately having a seat at the executive table. Having a platform capability view that can be assessed in a transparent way and aligned with critical business strategies ultimately improves investment decisions.

So what’s the big message? IT is poised to experience digital shock and disruption. Its business will change even while basic insurance fundamentals stay the same. Not everyone will win as we move forward. Only the “digital haves” that understand what their competitors, both traditional and non-traditional are doing, understand the emerging technology capabilities, and have a vision of what markets, products and business capabilities they will be providing moving forward will succeed. The bottom line is this — 2015 is the year the future arrived and insurance arrive in the future.

Related Research

  • US Insurer IT Budgets and Projects 2016
  • Agile at Insurers 2015
  • Analytics and Big Data in Insurance
  • Benchmarking the “New Normal” 50 Advanced Capabilities for Life/Annuity/Benefits Insurers
  • CIO Checklist: Running IT Like a Business
  • “Hot Topics” for Insurers in 2015: Social, Mobile, Analytics, Big Data, Cloud, and Digital
  • Benchmarking the “New Normal”: 50 Advanced Capabilities for P&C Insurers
  • Preparing for Digital Transformation
  • Update from Orlando: Themes for 2016

    Rob McIsaac

    I had the opportunity to participate in the revamped CSC user conference recently, which was a terrific opportunity to visit with both the issues … and the challenges … facing carriers as they move into the final stages of 2015’s Budget Season. With technology developments moving quickly and the reality of raised expectations around what “good experiences” should really be like, carriers face some important prioritization decisions in the near future.


    For carriers we see continued efforts to push toward the concurrent addressing of legacy technology issues while trying to improve capabilities related to product deployments and improved end user experiences for consumers and producers. Time to market continues to be a recurring theme for carriers although in the session I had a chance to facilitate there was a clear distinction raised by some CIOs who, armed with process metrics, were able to confirm that the IT group was no longer the “long pole” in that tent. This was but one manifestation of how better analytics can help organizations be more effective and efficient … while potentially helping build greater trust between IT teams and their “other business unit” customers.


    That said, one of the laments of the CIOs in the session was the overwhelming percentage of their spending annually that goes to “keeping the lights on”. For the vast majority of carriers this continues to hover at or above 75% (equal to the “Run” plus “Grow” spending in our new Insurer IT Budgets and Projects 2016 report), leaving limited headroom for transformational efforts and innovation.

    To that end, there was considerable discussion across the conference events related to both BPO services (as a mechanism for addressing legacy products and platforms) and increased interest in the role cloud solutions can play in the future. This is certainly consistent with other research Novarica has done and positive cloud experiences with SFDC and Office365 seem to be confirming that key workloads can effectively be handled for carriers. Both of these capabilities can ultimately allow CIOs to respond to what we are seeing in the 2016 budget surveys for carriers: a continuation of a theme that requires “doing more … without much more money.”

    Data and Digital

    Analytics and expanded digital capabilities are also top of mind for many carriers. The need to think about distribution system issues, highlighted by the average agent age now riding to 59 in the U.S. should be impacting more investment decisions than it is at the moment. The realization that Millennials now (and forever more) outnumber Baby Boomers does not yet seem to have sunk in for many organizations.

    Innovation, in varying forms, was a topic that emerged in almost every conversation at this event. In addition to the M&A activity that a number of carriers (and solution providers) embarked on in 2015 to build their own set of capabilities, there was considerable interest in the investment funds that a number of carriers have very publicly deployed over the course of the past year. For some small carriers, this raised a concern about the best way forward to competing in a rapidly evolving space. To that end, discussions about the Global Insurance Incubator (Des Moines, IA) and other local shared sourcing events proved interesting. Further, approaches that carriers have made to create innovation centers from Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley were very much on the minds of carriers in the sessions we facilitated.

    Talent and IT Organizations

    Another area of considerable interest related to some of the challenges carriers face with both managing an aging IT workforce to address their current needs, exacerbated by some of the challenges carriers have experienced with attracting and retaining a younger generation of associates to support their technical needs. Recent research we’ve done at Novarica both highlights the “Silver Tsunami” issue and offers insights into actionable steps CIOs can take now to address the concerns.

    The Future

    We have repeatedly said that 2015 has been, in many ways, the year that the future arrived. Competition among solution and service providers heightens their “game” for delivering the functionality carriers will need in their own battles to stay competitive (and relevant) in that future. The transformational journeys for L&A and P&C carriers are evolving along somewhat unique pathways, no doubt tied to the length of the tails associated with their primary product offerings. Irrespective of the lines of business, however, the realization that legacy solutions can’t provide the horsepower needed to address the future state needs of the carriers they support is increasingly clear for CIOs and their senior teams. Armed with a range of solutions for both technical capabilities and hosting options, the future promises to be dynamic. And yes, the insurance industry has clearly entered a period of interesting times.

    Next generation agents – Daniel Pink offers some advice

    Tom Benton

    Day 2 at the NAMIC Annual Convention began with a keynote from Daniel Pink, author of “Drive”, “To Sell is Human” and other New York Times bestsellers. His message for the NAMIC attendees was about selling, with what he called a “1-3-4″ message: 1 big idea, 3 principles and 4 takeaways.

    One Big Idea:  Seller Beware

    After pointing out that sales is generally viewed as negative and pictured as a slimy sales man (almost always a man) selling a used car, Pink pointed out that this view is from a time in the past, a time of “buyer beware” when customers had little information, few choices and limited ways to talk back. However, times have changed: instead of information asymmetry with sellers owning most of the information, we live in a new world of information parity where consumers have all the information, have many choices and multiple ways to talk back. In this new paradigm of “seller beware”, we need to reconsider how sales are done.

    Three Principles, Four Takeaways:  Summary

    Pink then proposed three principles to selling in this new world, and four takeaways based on current research on behavior in the new world. Here is a summary of thoughts from this part of his talk.

    Much of our thinking about who is best at sales is not true – we picture the ultimate salesman as highly extroverted, but in fact they are no better than ones that are highly introverted. Research shows that “ambiverts” are best – they are able to be introverted or extroverted based on context. We also assume that a direct approach is best for persuading customers to buy, but in fact research shows an interrogatory approach, asking questions, can be more effective when based on facts. Also a small, honest blemish on an otherwise strong offering can increase it’s attractiveness, another counter-intuitive result from research. Finally, giving the information a customer needs to make the sale easy, rather than trying to persuade them to change their minds, is effective. Pink presented his findings in a humorous but very informative presentation.

    What does this mean for the insurance industry?

    As good as the main presentation was, the real gem came in the last question of the Q&A session at the end of the keynote. A participant asked a great question: in an industry where agents are an aging population and we’re finding it difficult to find, train and make successful a new generation of sales professionals, who should we look to hire? Pink talked about avoiding strong extroverts and look for a few qualities that can be measured and correlate with successful sales candidates: ambiversion (as described above) and conscientiousness (shows ability to follow up, make calls, and stick with the sale). Pink observed that the new work generation grew up in households where they were served a “heaping bowl of self-esteem”, and didn’t learn how to handle rejection. He said this generation responds well to being trained in how to handle rejection, that it’s part of the process to encounter failure. They can be taught that sales is not just a transaction, but a way to help people and make a difference – values are important to the new millennial agents.

    Pink’s presentation offers important advice to developing the agent force for insurers. In a new world where consumers have an advantage of knowing about the products and services we offer, insurers need to look for and train a new generation of agents that are equipped to succeed by better knowing how to fail. Contact me if you’d like to discuss Pink’s presentation and how it can be applied to insurer distribution networks.

    Where will insurance disruption come from? Erik Wahl may have an answer…

    Tom Benton

    At the NAMIC opening keynote this year, Erik Wahl impressed the attendees with his graffiti art and thought provoking message – how we need to Unthink (title of his book) and unleash our creativity.

    Wahl encouraged the attendees to think differently, going back to the creativity we displayed younger in life, but that has been minimized as creative abilities atrophy while we learn to limit our answers to one best practice or one “right” answer. We learn to avoid risk and go with what we find most comfortable. Wahl illustrated his points by painting portraits of Lincoln, the Statue of Liberty, then finally unveiling a portrait of Albert Einstein by turning his final creation upside down.

    For some time there has been concern that disruption will only come from outside of our industry. The argument usually includes the thought that insurance executives and “forward thinkers” are only capable of incremental improvements, and they are so risk-averse in their thinking that transformative changes will only come from outside the industry from innovators like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon. It’s generally accepted that those “big four” are the only companies that have the resources and innovative thinking required to change a risk averse industry.

    Wahl encouraged the attendees to step back and look at the industry in a new way, taking the creativity we knew as our younger selves and apply that to our industry. After all, every kindergartner believes he or she can draw, but by the time we reach the end of our education Wahl claims only 8 to 10 percent of us believe it. He challenged industry leaders to not fear failure, but look to expand and contract opportunities to consider new ideas rather than get stuck in a laser focus on what we know – and that failure is a matter of opportunities and not of loss, limits or weakness.

    He compared our fear of failure to learning to paint. While the vast majority of us would say we cannot draw, Wahl asserts that being an artist is a practiced and disciplined skill – that we can learn to be creative and innovative through the same practice and discipline that artists apply to their craft. The message then is that we can create innovative solutions in insurance without facing disruption from outside the industry.

    This is a radical thought for an industry struggling with how to define itself in terms of new customer engagement expectations in the new “social, mobile and connected” world. Wahl spoke passionately about connecting with our customers emotionally, and illustrated this connection through his art.

    While we’ve been watching for disruption from outside the industry, Wahl tells us that we need to look within to consider how to better connect with our customer emotionally and “unthink” our long-developed risk aversion and return to creative thinking and solutions. If Wahl is right, we may already have what we need to innovate and disrupt the industry, and won’t have to wait and watch those outside the industry lead that disruption.

    What do you think? Can the industry learn to innovate, by looking at the issues differently and in a practiced, disciplined way? Or will disruption come from outside the industry and leave traditional insurers behind? Contact me if you’d like to talk about innovation and how to use Wahl’s thoughts to enable disruption within your company.

    Hello from NAMIC – San Diego

    Tom Benton

    This week I’m attending the NAMIC Annual Convention in San Diego. NAMIC expects this year’s Convention to include over 2000 attendees from over 250 Property and Casualty Mutual companies from the United States and Canada, along with a large number of vendors serving this market. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the organization, which represents the interests of mutual companies through advocacy and other services provided by the national organization and in state chapters.

    Many of the Mutual companies that are part of NAMIC are small carriers, insuring farms or other properties and equipment in rural communities, with a few larger national companies. From the discussions I’ve had with various mutual executives since arriving here yesterday, there are a few common issues that they are facing:

    • IT Strategy – many need to determine a strategy to update technology to meet the increasing demands of customers, including the increased use of independent agents by many mutual insurers.
    • Regulatory concerns – smaller insurers in general are facing issues keeping processes and systems up to date with current regulation changes, and potential changes from congressional pressure being placed on federal agencies in response to international regulatory changes.
    • Reinsurance needs – many mutuals are dependent on reinsurers due to lack of capital, but feel somewhat restricted in terms of product changes and supporting their customer base.

    In general, I’m hearing many of the same technology challenges as other small carriers I’ve talked with in the last few months.  For more on challenges and best practices at small carriers, see my webinar recording on Novarica’s website.

    The NAMIC Annual Convention has a different atmosphere than many conferences I’ve attended – this is a very important event to mutuals and is attended by many CEOs/Presidents along with representatives from their Boards of Directors.  There is a high level of engagement on the vendor floor as these executives and their key stakeholders look to technology and services to better meet the needs of their organizations.  The keynote presentation on Monday by Erik Wahl was very different… more on that in another blog post soon.

    The future has arrived for insurance, but have insurers arrived in the future?

    Matthew Josefowicz

    The good news from the recent PCI Tech Conference is that futurists like Vivek Wadhwa give the insurance industry at least three to five years before it is disrupted beyond recognition by data, analytics, the internet of things, self-driving cars, 3D printing, hyper-aggressive technology companies, and essentially free energy.

    The bad news is, many large insurers are still planning five year technology transformation initiatives to shed their legacy burdens and take advantage of today’s technology.

    Insurer CIOs understand the challenge. They need to mitigate the effects of yesterday’s inheritances. They need to address today’s business needs, and they need to prepare the organization for tomorrow. They need a deep understanding of all three timelines, and the ability to help others understand.

    This requires a new set of skills and new kinds of relationships. As one speaker put it, CIOs need to be communicators and story tellers as well as effective managers. They need visionary business executive partners who are willing to embrace the opportunities that technology creates in their ability to deliver innovative products to changing markets. CIOs also need technology partners who will not just deliver today’s solutions but co-evolve with them to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

    “I will invest in any technology initiative that increases our agility,” said one insurer CEO who understands. But far too many CEOs are still at a loss as to how to quantify the value of technology and continue to manage their technology investments as if spending more than 5% of premium on IT were a greater sin than letting the future pass them by.

    Meanwhile, while the conference was in session, Google Ventures announced an investment in innovative health insurer Oscar. The clock is ticking in insurance, and it’s not counting down anymore. It’s counting forward.

    Emerging Cyber Threats

    Mitch Wein

    I recently attended the IASA Mid-Atlantic conference in Atlantic City. This conference had a lot of business people from insurance, particularly from areas like regulatory reporting, accounting, audit and legal. Many topics that you would expect like GAAP and tax reporting, Economic Outlook for 2015, reporting under the Affordable Car Act were covered.

    However, what was notable for a conference with almost no IT people was that almost half of the discussions were about cyber-security and cyber risk management. Acting as a communication vehicle to the board, the NAIC cyber security principles, emerging compliance coming from NAIC and FINRA requirements, user behavioral analytics and even security war games were covered.

    The FBI did an excellent briefing on the type of cyber threats there are as well as the scam patterns that have emerged in recent years. This covered areas addressed by their Cyber division including infrastructure defense, nation state attacks, hacktivism, espionage and terrorism coordination through social media. This also covered the scam areas addressed by their criminal investigation division including the counterfeit check scam which targets attorney’s and CPA’s, the account takeover scam targeting business and individuals after personal information compromise, and business email compromise targeting businesses working with foreign suppliers and/or performing wire transfers.

    We have written before about the importance of cyber security especially as insurers transition to a digital future and retaining insured and agent trust. It was obvious to me that every business person in insurance needs to understand cyber security and what they need to do relative to their job functions and roles. Every insurance company is now a combatant in a war against criminals and terrorists. This is the new normal.

    Note: I’ll be presenting my recent work on IT Security Frameworks for Insurers on a free webinar on Sept 30 at 2pm. Pre-register here.

    Related Research

    IT Security Frameworks: NIST and SSE-CCM
    IT Security Issues Update

    Special Interest Group for Regional P&C Insurers

    Martina Conlon

    At Novarica’s recent Special Interest Group for regional P&C insurers, held in Boston on June 25th, the CIOs and other technology executives in attendance discussed many pressing trends in the insurance industry: cyber security, agent facing technology, core systems transformations, the use of analytics and predictive models. Despite differences in culture and architectural environment, the IT professionals in the room shared common issues and challenges, particularly when it came to making the core system business case without ROI, security frameworks for NPI transmission to 3rd parties, balancing system configuration and speed and ease of upgrade, and knowledgeable resources to support implementation and maintenance of the systems.

    Not surprisingly, core system transformations was a hot topic of discussion throughout the day. Most of the CIOs at the table had recently participated in one. While the consensus was that these projects are entirely worthwhile, a few important takeaways from their experiences include:

    • Finding the right relationship with the vendor and investing in the relationship.
    • Configuring your system just enough to make it work for your company but not enough to take you off of the upgrade path that your vendor offers.
    • Having a plan and a parallel work stream for sun-setting old mainframes/solutions is an important part of the transformation project.

    Top thoughts from the IT executives on the future of insurance included:

    • Most believe that Agents are here to stay. Carriers, even those who are moving into more of a customer-facing and direct model, will still use the agent channel. Recent reports about millennials found that they often still seek the advice and guidance of trusted professionals.
    • For most personal lines, the market will look more and more like Google – consumers will compare products against each other and make decisions on their own. Even for some smaller commercial lines this practice may continue to grow. However, in more sophisticated and complex lines of business, an agent still brings tremendous value.

    Lots of disruption ahead in our industry, and the companies that attended this session are busy laying the technical foundation to enable the stability, efficiency, flexibility needed to be successful in the future.

    Unexpected Competition: Only A Heartbeat Away!

    Rob McIsaac

    At Pegaworld this week, Dr. Mark Boxer, Global CIO at Cigna Insurance, delivered a powerful keynote address on the evolution of healthcare and the supporting technology in the United States. While acknowledging a range of challenges in the healthcare system today, he likened this to the opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities”: it is The Best of Time and The Worst of Times, concurrently. The Best of Times component is characterized by the flood of new technology which is fundamentally allowing them to create and participate in a digital ecosystem that is like nothing we have ever seen before. The implications for other forms of insurance, including life carriers, are significant. The competitive game is about to get a whole lot more interesting.

    The use of wearable technologies and related devices are anticipated to create a range of new connection points between customers and the carrier which allow for a far more interactive form of engagement. Through the use of these capabilities, Dr. Boxer talked about the transition from “sickness care” to “wellness care”, which allow them to refine how healthcare is integrated into consumer lives while making the process interactive. Monitoring of issues (e.g., diabetes, activity levels, etc.) is allowing them to create a lower cost model that has better outcomes. That’s a significant result that offers the promise of fundamentally re-architecting the nature of the relationship with their customers.

    He also noted that their approach to client engagement starts at the point of “enrollment”. And, of course, this is the exact same enrollment process that Group Life carriers are participating in to gain mind, and wallet-share, from plan members. And therein lies a potentially significant challenge for traditional Group (and Individual) insurance carriers.

    As we watch the transition from Group to Voluntary Benefits emerge, concurrently with demographic shifts that alter the face of tomorrow’s customer, there’s a clear wakeup call that is warranted. While many carriers continue to incrementally address issues related to aging technical environments in fairly traditional ways, considering like-structured companies as the future state competition, there are new threats that are emerging quickly. The Cigna depiction of how they anticipate weaving themselves into the daily lives of customers, where they are both receiving and sending information that is value added in both directions, is instructive. And, of course, armed with all the data and the digital relationship, the potential to cross sell other things to health insurance customers seems intuitively obvious. Being able to extend from traditional health coverages into other forms of coverage (e.g., life, disability, critical illness, etc.) seems a relatively modest extension of capabilities.

    Which means that Group / Individual Life carriers, who anticipate that the voluntary benefits market will be a future state growth engine, may suddenly find themselves facing off against an unexpected … and unexpectedly well prepared … foe. The Internet of Things isn’t a theoretical construct or something that might impact insurance some day. It’s coming faster than many think. This will become very, very interesting!

    As a result, the Tail of Two Cities metaphor could have a somewhat different meaning than Dr. Boxer intended. Armed with these capabilities, it could be the Best of Times for well prepared carriers … and the Worst of Times for those who fail to effectively plan for and integrate the “IoT” into their own operational fabric.

    Advice to Vendors Preparing for IASA

    Jeff Goldberg

    With the IASA annual conference rapidly approaching, we’ve been getting a lot of questions from core systems vendors about how to best present themselves at big events like this. The advice is not the same for every vendor, but there are some points that are true for just about everyone.

    1. Your sales team will not convince an insurer to purchase a core system if they aren’t already in the market for one. That means your primary goal is to make sure that you end up on an insurer’s long list when the time for replacement does come (on their schedule).

    2. Event attendees will be seeing a lot of booths and meeting a lot of vendors. The majority of them will not remember the details or nuance of your pitch and they will not read every word of a 5 page brochure. At most they will take away two or three key facts. What do you want those three facts to be? Decide ahead of time, and make sure you work to highlight them in your conversations and in your marketing material. What are you selling, who is your target client-base, and what key features makes your system stand out?

    3. It’s hard enough to convey the full scope of your system’s functionality in an hour meeting. It’s even more difficult to give demos in an event scenario. Instead of trying to walk someone through your normal demo script, you should have multiple parts of the system staged and ready to go. Don’t waste time keying in policy data or document text; instead, have several tabs open in a browser with pre-entered information, bring up the right tab based on your audience’s interest, and show the relevant parts of the system in action without having to step through lots of pages.

    4. Positive quotes from referenceable clients are better than any marketing text you can write.