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Top 100 Brokers 2021: Analysis – Opening Up: Innovating for the Future

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Insurance firms made huge leaps in technology use during the pandemic, but more can be done. Dave Chapman, chief revenue officer at Applied, talks us through three key principles for change

For decades, the insurance industry has historically been reliant upon manual, paper-driven processes. Spreadsheets and disparate applications lead to duplicative data entry and other administrative tasks that take precious time away from advising and selling to customers. These time-consuming processes also affect customer experiences, lengthening wait times to receive answers from brokers and leaving customers wanting more.

And then, almost overnight, the pandemic changed everything. For many brokers, the pandemic amplified inefficiencies in their existing business, forcing them to take a hard look at their processes and the technologies that underpin them.

In fact, the adoption of new technology, driven by remote working, grew at a tremendous rate – with years of digital catch-up happening in mere months. According to a McKinsey survey, “responses to Covid-19 sped up the adoption of digital technologies by several years – and many of these changes could be here for the long haul”.  Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed this sentiment. At one of the company’s quarterly earnings calls, he shared that Microsoft saw “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

This rapid technology adoption across all industries has affected the way both employees and customers look at business. Demand for intelligent insights has fuelled a new data obsession as brokers look for ways to be more competitive. Additionally, customer expectations have changed – with big tech players like Amazon, Uber and Facebook shaping expectations for simple, digital experiences.

Knowing that the majority of today’s consumers would switch providers for greater online service according to a recent Deloitte survey, brokers must offer the digital experiences their customers are accustomed to, or else risk losing that business to a competitor that has invested to create simpler, more convenient experiences.

In this rapidly changing and competitive environment, the insurance ecosystem must embrace technology like never before to become more productive, intelligent, simple and valuable.

Data shows that brokers who embrace digital generate 156% higher revenue per employee compared to brokers that do not. Another recent study from McKinsey that examined the opportunity for technology-driven productivity within the insurer side of the ecosystem echoes this research, showing that the benefits of adopting modern technology include a 40% reduction in IT costs, a 40% increase in productivity, more accurate claims handling, increased profitability and reduced churn. Clearly, technology investment, when done wisely, creates strong returns. 

Three principles

For insurance brokers, now is the time to take the necessary steps to adopt digital solutions and enable the anytime, anywhere experience today’s insurance customers demand. To optimise operations and deliver exceptional customer experiences through technology, brokers must focus on three principles: flexibility, intelligence and simplicity.

  • Flexibility: Today’s brokers want the freedom to choose the tech stack that best enables their business strategy. They want technology that will scale as they grow, that is agile and provides the flexibility to integrate other applications quickly and easily – not keep them restrained. Technology must work for each broker, allowing business processes and workflows to change at the increasing pace of innovation happening in our industry.
  • Intelligence: Gone are the days of data being hard to get in and out of your systems. Brokers need to be able to move data in and out of applications plus unlock the value of the data in these systems to provide intelligence on their business – from operations, to working with insurers, to measuring the business against the market.
  • Simplicity: Among the many reasons people love the brand Apple so much is because they make products that are extremely intuitive and easy to use. Apple’s mantra was simplicity, and fervently preached by Steve Jobs: “Let’s make it simple. Really simple.” In addition to Apple, companies like Amazon, Airbnb and others have redefined user experience (UX) and the bar is high. No business should be bogged down by software that’s complicated and frustrating to use. The UX of your brokerage software should be simpler, with fewer screens and clicks, and should eliminate redundant data entry. A clean, elegant interface across all devices improves productivity, simplifies training and on-boarding of new team members, and overall creates happier employees.

By adapting to the new norm and adopting the digital technology necessary for transformation, brokers build stronger bonds with customers, equip employees with the tools they need to work more intelligently and productively, and build more resilience and value into their business. Applied is innovating to meet the unique needs of today’s brokers and ready to exceed tomorrow’s innovation.

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