Book Rolls

BookSmart® 2.6: Making book roll analysis even better

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BKS_screenshotThe ability to accurately analyze books of business is core to the success of most insurance carriers. Whether you’ve acquired another carrier (a big shout out to you, ACE and Sentry!), or are looking to sell off a languishing market, carriers need to be able to review policy data confidently and efficiently. Sadly, many carriers still spend countless, onerous hours rekeying and manually building reports as part of the process—wasting time and money, and introducing inevitable human error.

But there’s good news amidst this bleak picture! Our BookSmart® tool not only removes virtually all of the risk that manual processes invite, version 2.6 provides even more reporting capabilities and better 3rd party integration.

Let’s say you’ve acquired a new book of 5000+ policies. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to view that data in different, consumable categories rather than a single lump report? Manually, a reporting project like that could take weeks to complete. With BookSmart, it takes seconds. 2.6’s new report functionality allows you to split a book by lines of business or number of policies, making it easier to separate the analytical work by department or team.

2.6 delivers additional reporting power and data cleansing with improved integration capabilities to third party solutions. With robust integration capabilities with most agency management systems, you can pull books directly from your agent base and quickly analyze the data. BookSmart also easily integrates with systems that validate addresses, automatically perform territory look-ups, verify coverage amounts with e2Value and MSB™ and check insurance scores with CLUE/Choicepoint.

Book rolls are powerful, complex business tools. But they don’t have to be painful. To learn more about how BookSmart greatly reduces risky manual data entry, and gives carriers the robust data processing and reporting they need for confident decision-making (plus, our growing list of the supported lines of business and included reports) check out our Developer Zone.

Tara DurheimBookSmart® 2.6: Making book roll analysis even better
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The ACORD Innovation Challenge Up Close and Personal

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Caleen at ACORD Innovation Challenge

Agencyport’s Caleen Alexanderson at the Innovation Challenge

Exhibiting true market innovation, ACORD hosted a broad industry Innovation Challenge this week at its headquarters in Pearl River, New York. The best part? I got to be a judge in the Shark Tank-like forum for innovative ideas in Insurance.

The 37 live pitches covered new thinking across a broad range of areas. Some were hardcore, capital intensive projects, like one creating Autonomous Marine Systems (aka water drones) to ultimately replace the NOAA weather buoy system, to more lightweight tech projects like the pitch from Social Intelligence, who developed an algorithm for mining social media to assist with predictive underwriting data. One potential game-changer came from Haven Life, a really cool startup (backed by 150-year-old Mass Mutual), which has developed a life insurance platform that allows people under 45 years old to purchase life insurance completely online. Another one of my personal favorites came from Splice Software, a company that’s already mastered customer engagement in retail. Splice has an insurance solution that can receive alerts from Google Nest and other sensors, alert the homeowner (and carrier), and even dispatch a plumber or other service provider.

The rest of the entries were either innovative evolutions of existing products or technologies, or process improvements. All together, the pitches proved to be thought-provoking and a really positive sign that there are people in the industry who are not only ready for disruption, they’re working on creating it. ACORD will host a “virtual” session on Monday for 11 presenters who were unable to attend the event in person. The winners will be announced around July 1st.

My fellow judges were as diverse a group as the presenters. We had the usual suspects: solution providers, industry analysts, and insurance media members, but also representatives from a new sector that cares about innovation: the insurance accelerators. The accelerators included Brian Hemesath from the Global Insurance Accelerator, an entity backed by seven Iowa-based insurers that is committed to launching innovative insurance startups; and Drew Aldrich from Axa Strategic Ventures, the €200M fund backed by AXA, with an impressive portfolio of startups.

Creativity was palpable throughout the event, and it was expressed with a spirit of collaboration that ACORD encouraged from beginning to end. Not only were accelerators and solution providers able to talk with submitters after their presentations, conversation was encouraged. This meant that if AXA liked an idea, or I saw a partnership or M&A possibility, we all could swap business cards, schedule follow-ups, etc. Major kudos to ACORD both for providing this unique platform for industry disruption and for fostering such an open exchange of ideas. I think we can all agree that it was about time for an event like this.

Curt StevensonThe ACORD Innovation Challenge Up Close and Personal
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Rethinking Millennials

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Drones, driverless cars, and robots, oh my! While exhibiting at the IASA Annual Conference in Las Vegas this week, I had the opportunity to attend the session Disruption/Vision 2030 facilitated by Bill Freitag from Majesco. The objective of the session was to facilitate a discussion about these and other new industry phenomena, and how they could help carriers distinguish themselves from their competition.

During the session, Freitag posed the question, “How do you see the new generation of Millennials disrupting the industry?” (For the record: the term Millennials is competing in the overuse category with Innovation and Configuration.  A real Disruption would be finding a way to avoid the word Millennials!) As “an individual with a birth year between the 1980s and early 2000s,” this questioned piqued my interest. What do carriers think my generation brings to the table?

The answers shocked me. Rather than considering any technological knowledge or fresh outlook we might bring to a relatively slow-moving industry, the focus became the world view that (apparently) all of us possess. The consensus was that Millennials do not like face-to-face conversations, we want to make our own hours, we prefer to work from home, and (my personal favorite) we expect free food in the office. Sitting in the back of the room listening to Baby Boomers stereotype my generation, I decided to try to set a few things straight…

Dear Insurance Veterans,

Millennials are not here to throw a monkey wrench into this venerable industry. Quite the opposite. With your help, we see some great opportunities to make it better. In many important ways, we’re just like you. In fact, a recent survey from IBM Institute for Business Value compares workplace preferences and behavior patterns across multiple generations, and it turns out that most “individuals with a birth year between the 1980s and early 2000s” want the same things that our older colleagues do. For example, the study indicates that despite misconceptions to the contrary, employees from all three of the groups studied—Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials—share the desire to add value to their organization and to work with colleagues from varying age groups and backgrounds. Similarly, though Millennials suffer from a reputation of needing to do everything online, the study indicates that, like other generations, we prefer to learn by attending conferences, receiving training in the classroom, and working alongside colleagues—all face-to-face interactions (IBM Institute for Business Value).

IBM Institute for Business Value's study on The real story behind Millennials in the workplace

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value’s study on The real story behind Millennials in the workplace

We newcomers can’t compete with the years of industry experience of our older colleagues—the trends, the cycles, the nuances, the lessons resulting from failures and successes. But we can offer new ideas and perspectives that might improve things a bit. How might some of the technologies that we have been raised on provide a competitive edge? Could our social- and work-style preferences foster bigger and better ideas? Could we help speed processes?

At Agencyport, I’ve experienced first-hand practices that keep our younger staff engaged, creative and energized around a 350-year old industry. While they might not be perfect fits for all insurance-related companies, surely some elements could breathe fresh life into many business practices:

  • The environment supports applying our fresh outlook to past and current problems. Regular Hackathons and dedicated time within the workweek for special projects and creative ventures help prevent stale thinking.
  • We’re encouraged to work hard and play hard. After-work sports teams, company outings and feisty Pictionary competitions foster strong and trusting relationships between colleagues.
  • A variety of seating options and casual living spaces cultivate collaboration and teamwork.
  • Competitive salaries and benefits help keep us motivated and serious about our work.

The world is changing faster than ever before—technologically, socially, and business-wise. One of the greatest challenges that the Insurance industry faces is keeping pace with that change. Let us be your partner.

Louisa Rogers

Agencyport Software

 

 

Louisa RogersRethinking Millennials
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In Search of the Elusive 10

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norm-achieving10

Norm Baker, AP’s Chief Architect, clearly excited about making our customers happy

Come on, admit it. Deep down we all want the perfect 10… the recognition that we did the best work possible. At Agencyport, this drive comes into play every time we interact with a customer. It’s a daily goal for each of us to provide as flawless an experience as possible—to provide a product that wows and service to match.

Though we have always kept a close eye on our customers’ experiences with us, two years ago, we decided to institute formal monitoring—leaving nothing to chance. Using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) customer loyalty metric we began to measure our performance through our customers’ eyes by having them focus on a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend Agencyport/Agencyport products/Agencyport service to a friend or colleague?  The premise is self-evident: if our customers like our products and/or doing business with us, they’ll share that experience with others.

Since day one, customer feedback has directly influenced important changes and developments at Agencyport. In the last year alone, we completely revamped our Developer Zone, introduced additional Integration Kits, restructured our sales organization and enhanced our process of staffing projects in professional services all based on survey feedback.

So, while we continue to stalk those perfect 10s, let us know what you think. What are the biggest issues that you’re going to face this year? Where is P&C headed? What should we be working on? How can we make your lives easier? What simple product feature have we overlooked? Your open, honest, critical thinking can help fuel big industry change.
White Paper on Next-Gen Portals

Colleen Anne WellsIn Search of the Elusive 10
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True Portal Success Requires Alignment

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As you may remember, I recently hosted a roundtable discussion about Agent and Consumer portals at the Guidewire Connections conference. During the conversation, I discussed a diagram that Agencyport uses to illustrate the extreme value that a modern, decoupled agent or consumer portal can provide if Carriers align key elements behind it.

PortalAlignmentDiagram_AgencyportTo achieve optimum portal adoption and success, Carriers must carefully consider and align:

  • Clear business strategies and goals
  • Different end user expectations
  • Latest technologies, both inside and outside of the industry

The participants at the roundtable all agreed that understanding and employing these elements were critical—whether they were working with a vendor or not. While the elements can be challenging to define, doing so is well worth the effort.

Creating clear business goals and associated strategies for a portal initiative is imperative. Carriers should be addressing questions like the following and prioritizing efforts to answer them:

  • Which lines of business would benefit the most from automation? Why?
  • How can efficiency be improved?
  • Growth achieved?
  • How do we compare with our competition in commercial lines? What’s behind the differences?
  • What specifically are our agents and brokers complaining about when it comes to applications and quoting?

Another important area to consider is user expectations. Does your agent portal behave anything like a shopping experience on Amazon? Do you know what top three things matter most to Agents in their online experience with you? How about CSRs? Your underwriters? Do you think they all value the same things in a web experience? You might be surprised. If you’re unsure on this one, I recommend digging into it. Even a small workflow detail can make a big difference.

Finally, are you still supporting people using versions of Internet Explorer 8 or below? Are your Agents scanning and faxing forms to you? Technology is advancing every day. Those who embrace and employ it smartly are leaving their competition in the dust. While it’s an enormous task to stay on top of all of the advancements being made, Carriers can make significant strides by leveraging one or two new advances that make the most sense for their business.

At Agencyport, we think about this stuff all the time. In fact, it’s all we think about. What specific benefits are Carriers looking for from an Agent portal and how can they be measured? What do Agents love and hate about Carrier portals? What Technologies are making the greatest impact in this space? The best part for our 66 customers? Because we worry about this stuff around the clock, they don’t have to.

White Paper on Next-Gen Portals

Curt StevensonTrue Portal Success Requires Alignment
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Our Challenge: Share What You Know

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dev-zone-at-the-lake-blogAfter unveiling our new Developer Zone to our customers at our recent conference in Stowe, Vermont, we are now proud to officially announce its availability to everyone.  That’s right, everyone.  No usernames or passwords. Open access to our entire volume of technical content. Because that’s the way we think it should be, and we’re urging other vendors to do the same.  Learn more about our challenge from Mike Albert, SVP of Product Strategy at Agencyport and other steps that Agencyport is taking to try to move our historically closed industry to one that thrives on openness.

Tara DurheimOur Challenge: Share What You Know
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There’s No I in Team

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pradeep+patrick-01The business of P&C insurance and the technologies that it runs on have made huge strides in recent years. But there are many more to make before anyone calls what we do the most efficient business process on earth. To get there requires concerted teamwork. No company, vendor, organization or individual can single-handedly produce a silver bullet.

As one small step toward Agencyport’s full commitment to that teamwork and collaboration, we invite you to enjoy the sessions and presentations that were recently made during our Annual Conference in Vermont. Vendors, carriers, agents, analysts, they were all there, and each one provided an important perspective on the best way forward. Let us know what you think. Join us.

Julie HoweThere’s No I in Team
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Annual Conference 2014: Your one stop shop for seriously bold insurance IT thinking

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vermont-signWe are less than two weeks away from the annual gathering of our customers, partners, prospective customers and industry thought leaders—by far the highlight of our year. If you’ve never been, there is still time to make the trip to Stowe.

But why, exactly?

Come face-to-face with face-melting technology

Yes, that’s right, face-melting. As we do every year, we use our fall event to showcase our latest and greatest solutions and exciting plans for the future. This year, we will be launching version 5.0 of our AgencyPortal solution, with its entirely new design and architecture—something to see firsthand.

Learn from the industry’s best

In addition to sharing what’s going on under the Agencyport roof, we also use this event to spark conversation about the Big Questions facing today’s insurance IT leaders. Connect with peers on the challenges you are all facing. More importantly, work with us and other leading vendors to help make the business of P&C insurance better for everyone.

Meet the users

When it comes to understanding how well your technology really works, we think it’s best to go straight to the people who use it every day: your Agents. That’s why we regularly invite them to tell us what it’s like doing business with you. We hear the good, the bad and the ugly—they don’t hold back. Talk about being able to make an impact when you get back to the office!

Huddle with your project team

In-person conversations really can’t be beat. Take the opportunity between sessions to meet with your Agencyport team. Not a customer yet? Ask other carriers who are what it’s like working with us. We have no doubt they’ll give you the straight scoop.

Have fun!

We get a lot done during our conference, but we balance the hard work with plenty of fun. Fly through a fall-tinged forest on a zip line. Play a beautiful mountain golf course. Enjoy apple cider by the bonfire with us. Whatever you decide to do, we look forward to seeing you in Stowe.

Still need to register or book your hotel room? Visit our event website for all the details.

Tara DurheimAnnual Conference 2014: Your one stop shop for seriously bold insurance IT thinking
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Rebuilding the Insurance Technology Museum One Digital Step at a Time

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greenscreenWorking in insurance technology can be disorienting.  I can deposit a check on my phone, I can purchase from Amazon with a few clicks, and then I look at some of our clients’ legacy technology and see a copyright date from the year I was born!  It’s overwhelming.  And not in a good way.  There is still so much progress that needs to be made.

Earlier this month at the ACORD/LOMA conference, Sharon Luty, Lead Director & Senior Information Officer from AXA, spoke honestly about the “technology museum” she juggles. During her session “The Silver Bullet: Secrets to Blowing Away Inefficiencies,” Sharon noted that while AXA has made huge progress to modernize, she admitted it has taken patience.  In contrast, Craig Beattie, Senior Analyst at Celent, hosted “Extreme Digital: Customer Journeys from the Edge.”  Listening to both sessions, you wanted to shout to Craig “Wait, how can we be extreme digital when carriers are working in technology museums!?”  To his credit, Craig quickly shifted his wording to “more digital,” and it made all the difference.

Instead of looking at technology museums and planning for “extreme digital,” carriers should ask their teams “how can we be more digital?”  This small but important shift in perspective opens carriers up to all of the small wins that can be achieved in the near-term and gives them the opportunity to pursue long terms goals.

Not sure where to start? ACORD form-to-data automation and pre-built integration kits to 3rd party services like Lexis Nexis and Valen—easy first steps to “more digital.”

Jenn ParkerRebuilding the Insurance Technology Museum One Digital Step at a Time
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Let’s Up the Failure!

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SuccessWhen was the last time you had the freedom to inconsequentially fail? At this week’s “State of the Industry and Industry Analyst Panel Discussion” at the ACORD/LOMA Conference in Orlando, Deb Smallwood from SMA, Matthew Josefowicz from Novarica, Karen Pauli from TowerGroup, Steve Weisbart from the Insurance Information Institute and Anthony O’Donnell from Insurance Innovation Reporter discussed the state of technology within our industry.  One of the many issues covered was the importance of innovation—not a new topic, but Matthew Josefowicz’s take on it was compelling. When asked about the industry’s struggle to innovate, Matt suggested that an innate intolerance of failure is partly to blame.

As someone who has heard our customers say “if this doesn’t go well, my job is on the line,” Matt’s theory resonated.  While we pride ourselves on delivering for customers so that they get promoted, not kicked to the curb, we are keenly aware that this pressure exists.

Comparing this atmosphere to Silicon Valley, arguably the most innovative place on earth, and where Matt pointed out that 90% of initiations fail, it’s clear failure can be beneficial.

Should carriers go full throttle into a major project on a creative hunch, fingers crossed?  Obviously not.  But, when outlining an initiative, we all could take a page from Silicon Valley and embrace the what-ifs.  Karen Paulie noted that a carrier she worked with began routinely matching new hires with C-level execs—not so the rookies could learn from the veterans, but so the execs could gather fresh ideas from the newbies.  Anthony O’Donnell also suggested seeking innovative ideas outside carrier walls, like asking agents or policyholders.

At Agencyport we host monthly “AP Days” where employees can work on a project or challenge they are interested in—whether it’s part of their regular responsibility or not.  AP Days have resulted in a number of amazing additions to our products… and a number of failures. Failures we’re glad we explored.

How are you failing?

Jenn ParkerLet’s Up the Failure!
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