| ||Fast Focus|
It’s a widely held notion that technology in the
insurance brokerage industry is behind the times.
Our industry has surprisingly few options for automating our
When you focus your technology on your customers, you can
change entire models of doing business.
Pointing in the Wrong Direction
Here’s what’s wrong with
today’s agency technology. Banking changed while we were
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In the end, Sneed bought the software.
Through the 1980s, as computing capabilities matured, agency
systems became more complex. What started as a few lines of
free-form policy information became entire databases. Acord
developed standard forms that could be used to design better
“I designed Sagitta to take advantage of the
standardization that was happening in the industry,” says
Frank Sentner, the software’s original architect.
“Sagitta was built to capture data to conform to the AL3
standard, which allowed for the mapping and transmission of
While the systems became more complex, their focus was
mostly unchanged: They were built to make the CSR more
efficient. This digital disruption paved the way for further
consolidation of firms serving hundreds of thousands of
customers while retaining the ability to generate profit.
The 1990s changed everything once again. Terminals connected
to minicomputers gave way to PCs on desktops talking with
servers in the back room. Companies started connecting their
PCs into local area networks, then wide area networks, then the
Internet. The widespread adoption of the Internet created a
world of interconnectivity between companies that converged
data, communication and collaboration.
This fundamental shift in technology forced the agency
system vendors to keep pace. Agency system interfaces
transitioned from terminals to DOS to Windows with some
eventually adopting browser-based models.
Despite this fundamental shift in underlying technology,
agency systems didn’t change much. While some system
vendors created a rudimentary customer portal interface,
adoption was lackluster at best. Why? The core model of the
systems remained firmly focused on the internal needs of the
agency. Connecting your customers to your internally focused
system doesn’t usually provide greater communication,
better ease of use or higher levels of service than calling
your servicing team.
Recently, mobile devices and smartphones have become
ubiquitous. Social networks have turned our fear of privacy
invasion into a desire to share everything. Agency system
vendors are currently working to integrate these new
technologies into their systems. But as history has shown,
without a strategic shift in their core design these
technologies will never be more than an add-on.
As agency-management systems matured and gained widespread
adoption, the market gravitated toward two primary system
providers, Applied Systems and AMS (now Vertafore). The systems
added features and functionality while adjusting to a constant
shift in underlying architecture. They added attachment and
document management functionality. With the rise of the
Internet, agency systems began to integrate email and Web
Along the way, brokers have relied on the agency system
vendors to add features and functionality to our industry. In
ceding the definition of agency automation to the technology
vendors, we have guaranteed the technology available for us to
buy is focused on their
customers, namely us. This means our technology is focused on
our agencies when it really needs to be focused on our