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The Digital Agency: Connecting Minds and Machines

January 18, 2018

by Trace Meek
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Digital technology is integrated into every aspect of our lives. For instance, when you go to the grocery store you can process your own purchases via a self-checkout. Or, when you go to a restaurant you can order ahead online or through your smartphone. The digital age has created a new kind of consumer who expects on-demand self-service with every company they do business with, including insurance agencies.

To capitalize on new customer service and business paradigms, the insurance industry is undergoing rapid digital transformation. The digital transformation is about realizing an opportunity to better service clients and creating an enduring and more profitable business. A digital agency leverages modern technologies to connect its agents, insurers, clients and prospects. It automates business operations to transform into a paperless agency, saving time and money on outdated processes.

Embracing Change
More and more agencies like Condon-Meek are embracing digital technology to automate their business operations. Our agency was experiencing inefficiencies with manual, day-to-day tasks that prompted us to search for technology to enable flexibility and automation throughout our agency. We invested in technology to become a digital agency and quickly realized the benefits.

Becoming a digital agency enables us to:

  • Operate more efficiently
  • Make more informed business decisions
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Build stronger insurer relationships
  • Create new business opportunities

Our Digital Transformation Strategy
To transform our agency, we leveraged four capabilities to drive our digital technology strategy.  

  1. Agency Management System
    Working in multiple systems created a lot of confusion and inconsistency at our agency. A lot of time and money was also being wasted maintaining multiple, disparate systems. To more efficiently manage our business, it was important to have a unified system across the entire agency. 

    We partnered with Applied to implement an agency management system that could provide essential capabilities for each stakeholder in the business to better manage customer relationships, sales opportunities, financial accounting and policy and benefit administration across the entire staff, in one application.

    Our new agency management system has dramatically impacted our sales process. My team can now input a client in less than 90 seconds, identify cross- and up-sell opportunities, track won or lost opportunities, and set follow-up reminders — all benefits that most management systems don’t offer. This tool also allows us to look into the future and see what’s in our sales pipeline for the next 10, 30, 60 and 90 days. I can see where we are falling short and I’m able to fix the issue today rather than 45 days from now. This has been invaluable to me because what you can track, you can manage.

    Having an agency management system with the ability to automate all business processes at our agency created a better flow of operations, eliminated additional costs, resources and time spent using multiple systems, and enabled us to nearly triple our business this year.

  1. Insurer Connectivity

    Automating insurer connectivity enables our agency to seamlessly communicate and exchange data from our system to insurers’ systems via download. The ability to interact with insurers while operating in our system saves my staff immense time and enables them to be more productive.

    Our agency is now better equipped to connect with insurers thanks to tools like rating software, which deliver accurate quotes through real-time connectivity. By automating quoting workflows, our agency is able to quickly meet our customer’s needs, improving the overall customer experience and driving business growth.

  1. Mobile

    Younger consumers expect mobile and self-service applications that enable them to quickly access information and make purchases on their terms. In fact, according to a recent study by Applied Systems, 76% of Millennials and Generation Z believe having access to information and service through a mobile app is very important.

    Mobile enables our agency to provide customers with anytime access to insurance information from their smartphones. It also allows our producers to quickly access and update critical client and prospect information while they are out in the field. Mobility has untethered our agents from a traditional 9-5 office life and created a more fluid work environment that allows for greater production and better customer service.

  1. Cloud

    I wanted to be able to spend more time with my family and have more freedom away from the office, but I was constricted by having an on-site server. Additionally, having an on-site server exposed our agency to the risk of a cyber threat or natural disaster that could potentially destroy all of our company data. We experienced a huge problem when our server went down, leaving us without an agency management system for a week. After that, it was a no-brainer to move to the cloud.

    From cost savings to better data management, the cloud offers our agency an opportunity to operate in a secure and flexible environment that rewards speed and business continuity with profitable results.

Transform and Thrive Today
Since implementing a digital transformation strategy, our agency has seen significant growth. We have written as much new business in the past four months as we did in the previous 12 months.

In today’s insurance market, it’s no longer acceptable to remain un-automated and customers expect mobile and self-service technology. If your agency wants to drive growth and profitability, it’s critical to consider leveraging technology to create a connected experience across the insurance lifecycle. Implementing a digital agency strategy goes hand-in-hand with our core value of being a trusted advisor. Technology isn’t replacing our relationships, it’s enhancing them by allowing us to better serve our customers. Connecting minds and machines will give your agency a more competitive position and enable you to remain viable into the future.

For more information on becoming a digital agency, watch the “Technology for Growth” on-demand webinar.

Trace Meek is the president of Condon-Meek Insurance, a family-owned, independent insurance agency that was founded in 1954 and is located in Clearwater, Florida.

IVANS Index: 2017 Year-End Results for Premium Renewal Rate Change Across the Industry

January 15, 2018

by Matt Foran
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

Year-End Results Show Positive Change Across Nearly All Major Commercial Product Lines
2017 was one of the highest loss periods in commercial insurance, with catastrophic natural disasters driving significant claims and premium rate changes for most carriers in the U.S. Fourth quarter results showed a slight uptick in premium renewal rate change average across Commercial Auto, Business Owner’s Policy, General Liability, and Commercial Property compared to Q3; however, Umbrella and Workers’ Compensation average premium renewal rate change dropped. Worker’s Comp remained in negative territory, making May the only month in 2017 that experienced positive change.

Q4 2017 key findings in premium renewal rate change include:

  • Commercial Auto: 3.11% for the quarter, with a quarter high in November at 3.24% and ending the quarter at its low of 3.00% in December.
  • BOP: 3.85%, increasing over last quarter’s average of 4.79%. BOP premium renewal rate change finished the quarter at 3.79% in December.
  • General Liability: 1.86% quarterly change versus a Q3 average of 1.74%. The low reached 1.66% in November and ended the quarter in December at 2.13%.
  • Commercial Property: 2.91% in Q4 as compared to 2.48% in Q3. The year low and high came back-to-back, with May at 1.46% and June at 2.22%.
  • Umbrella: 1.34% vs. 0.47% in Q3. The year low and high premium renewal rate change occurred in May and August at 0.81% and 1.56% respectively.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -2.32%, down from Q3 average of -1.18%, marking the lowest average of the year.

Umbrella averaged 1.34% in Q4 versus 1.47% in Q3, with a six month average of 1.41%. Premium renewal rate change reached a quarterly high at 1.49% in December and low at 1.19% the month prior.

Workers’ Comp averaged -2.32% in Q4 versus -1.18% in Q3. December marks the lowest premium renewal rate change of the year at -2.92%, with October being the second lowest at -2.24%.

Across all lines of business, December was consistently one of the greatest premium renewal rate change months for the year. Over the past year, the IVANS Index has provided a new view into key movements of the industry on a monthly basis, firmly establishing a new authority for agents and insurers to manage their renewals and pricing models.

Download the complete 2017 year-end IVANS Index report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Technology Adoption: Risk or Reward?

January 04, 2018

by Reid French
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The independent agency channel is doing quite well in today’s economy. According to Labor Department Statistics, total employment within the U.S. insurance sector has recovered very nicely since the Great Recession, reaching over 2.6 million jobs. The unemployment rate has also fallen dramatically from a high in 2010 of 8.4% to just 2% today. So everything is great in the insurance industry – revenues are rising, profits are up, more people are employed, and more organizations want to buy an agency or brokerage at higher prices than ever before. So what’s the problem with that picture?

Well, it’s pure and simple economics – success in an industry breeds new entrants. When you have rising revenues, rising profits and improving valuations, new firms will be created to get a piece of that party. And these new firms may not always take the same form as existing providers. The ability to start from scratch provides the freedom to rethink the operation in its entirety.

Over the last few years, we have seen growing interest in our industry by the technology startup community. This interest has grown so much that there is now a word for it: InsurTech. These new firms profess to be here to disrupt the way insurance is bought, sold and serviced, using technology to change the way customers interact with their providers. So what does all this investment in InsurTech mean for our industry? I believe it depends on how each of us reacts to these new firms and the digital transformation of insurance.

Making the case for digital transformation

As a history buff, one thing that I always do is look to the past for guidance. If we examine how other industries have reacted to digital transformation, you will find that, in general, there have been two primary reactions. Existing industries have either ignored digital transformation, most often to their peril, or they have embraced it, most often to great success despite the fear of change. Let’s look at two different examples to examine the impact digital transformation can have on your business’ long-term success.

Uber verses Taxi
As we all know, Uber has taken the world by storm, materially impacting the taxi industry in the process. Over just a two year period, ride sharing services stole 28% of market share from yellow taxis in NYC. This market share trend is well known, but few have discussed Uber’s impact on valuations for the owners of taxis. In NYC, each taxi is licensed through the city via a medallion. The owner of the taxi owns the medallion and can sell it to others or pass it down in his family through perpetuation. In April of last year, a NYC medallion sold for $241,000, down from $1.3 million in 2013. That is an 81% reduction in value in only four years.

This did not have to happen to the taxi industry. They were highly advantaged compared to Uber in the beginning – they had the fleet of cars, the drivers, the customer database, and frankly, regulation on their side. However, they never adopted technology that was available to them to improve the customer experience. How many taxis still – today – don’t take credit cards? How many taxis still – today – have to be ordered via phone instead of an app? It didn’t have to be this way, but the taxi industry did not digitally transform as these tools became available – they allowed others to do it for them.

Financial Institutions
Now let’s shift to discuss an industry that has embraced digital transformation and it’s an industry that is much closer to the world of insurance – financial institutions. In the 1990s, new venture-backed firms began to emerge, utilizing the internet to improve servicing for both banking and wealth management customers. Many thought that these new, online only firms would usher in the beginning of the end for the existing financial institutions. But what happened next is very different than the taxi example.

The banks didn’t sit still – they invested in the same technology that the online banks were based upon. They launched online customer portals and trading platforms. They offered apps to allow customers the choice of skipping the branch to deposit a check or view account balances. The new entrants initially offered something new, but rather quickly, the existing industry matched those innovations. In reality, the incumbent banks actually leapfrogged the FinTech startups by combining new digital tools with their strong branch networks and long history of service. The key difference in the approach of the banks as compared to that of the taxi industry is that they embraced digital transformation, rather than ignored it

So what does all of this mean for the insurance industry?

Most people view InsurTechs as a threat. In fact, according to PwC more than half of global insurers believe that 20% of their revenue is threatened by InsurTech. However, InsurTech is a large opportunity for each of you. The history of digital transformation informs us that those that move swiftly to innovate, to adopt technology, to advance customer experience are the ones that fare the best, that actually enhance revenue growth and profitability. The question now is, will we embrace the digital transformation of insurance or will we ignore it? In order to embrace digital transformation – to future proof your agency – you must become a digital agency.

Being digital agency provides your organization more time to focus on advice and selling, not transaction processing. Each of you are risk advisors, you are here to help your customers mitigate risk, to protect a lifetime of effort and an organization’s most precious assets. If your agency spends all of its time on transactions, you are not focused on the core value of your organization – advice. A recent survey by the Big I indicated that nearly 40% of respondents admitted that they had never done any research prior to purchasing an insurance policy. Your customers need you now more than ever – make sure that your technology supports the time for advice.

Step into the Digital Age

At times, technology investment has been viewed as a risk – it costs money, involves process change, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. In today’s environment, I think that calculus is changing. With the growth of InsurTechs and rising consumer expectations, I would argue that technology inaction is more of a risk than technology adoption. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook says it best, “The biggest risk, in fact, is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Hedge risk by becoming a digital agency. 

For more insights on how to become a digital agency and move your business into the 21st century, sign up now to be one of the first to receive our upcoming eBook, 7 Steps to Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Independent Insurance Agencies.

Enter your email address below and we’ll send you a complimentary copy of this eBook when it becomes available.

Reid FrenchReid French, Chief Executive Officer at Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

Top 10 Insights on Digital Technology Adoption

December 21, 2017

by Applied Communications
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Changing insurance marketplace dynamics require you to do more for your business in less time. It’s no longer enough to go un-automated with paper files and manual records. Disparate systems of record cannot support a growing digital agency. That is why agencies must embrace digital technology to simplify and amplify current processes. Technology expands your business’s communication channels – to clients and insurer partners. It mobilizes your staff from their desk to the field. Digital technology elevates your role as a trusted advisor, making you present at all moments of opportunity – anytime, anywhere.

When you think about the core promise of insurance – to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives – it is vital to use digital technology to ensure your agency will be there when your customers need you most. There is significant opportunity and competitive advantage to be had for agencies willing to adopt new technologies and implement digital transformation strategies.

How well are agencies adapting to the digital transformation of insurance?
The latest results from the Applied Digital Agency Survey provide industry-wide benchmarks by which agencies can gauge digital technology adoption and overall industry progression toward digital transformation.

Here are our top 10 takeaways from this year’s report:

More and more agencies are embracing technology to transform their businesses. The average Digital Agency Score this year increased from 42% to 44%. While this finding does indicate slight progress in the adoption of technology, as a whole, the insurance industry is still lagging behind other financial services organizations.

Agencies that use digital technology are experiencing greater monetary return per employee in a number of areas, including, 30% higher revenue when using an integrated management system, 35% higher revenue when hosting software in the cloud, and 40% higher revenue when using a business intelligence tool. Overall, agencies that completely transform into a digital agency experience 144% higher revenue per employee than those that do not. Leveraging technology automates operations so that agents can focus more on selling and serving customers, rather than working on manual, administrative tasks. Focusing more on your customers enables you to create a better customer experience so that you can increase retention, attract new customers and ultimately drive the growth of your business.

Adoption of agency management systems is nearly ubiquitous across the agency channel with a score of 95%. An adoption rate just shy of 100% in both 2016 and 2017 reveals that agencies worldwide understand that the management system is the core of their business operations.  A foundational management system enables you to manage your entire operations – across all roles and all lines of business – within a single application. It automates business operations and creates standardized workflows to increase efficiency and staff productivity.

Among the agencies using a foundational management system, 25% do not have visibility across all departments – P&C, Benefits and Sales – within their systems. To ensure your business capitalizes on each business opportunity and provides the best customer service, it’s critical to have a unified system that provides a comprehensive view of your entire business. Using a single application to manage your entire business, eliminates the need for multiple systems and duplicate data entry so that your staff can be more productive and make better business decisions faster.

Convenient digital services, like eSignature, are also on the rise with a 32% increase in adoption. eSignature offers a quick and seamless way for your business to provide customers the convenient digital service they expect while keeping all workflows within the management system, reducing time and expense spent managing paperwork.

With help from their insurer partners, agencies are going paperless by utilizing download services. eDocs and Messages download was the standout download service this year with an 89% increase in adoption. Download automates the exchange of policy, claims and billing information between you and your insurer partners. The ability to work in one management system versus referencing individual insurer portals allows you to operate more efficiently, provide better customer service and increase business growth.

Mobile customer service remains an opportunity for agents with only 24% currently offering this additional channel of communication to customers. It’s essential for agencies to provide greater flexibility and servicing options to clients and prospects via mobile applications and web portals. Today’s consumers demand anytime, anywhere service and the businesses that don’t provide this risk not surviving long term.

Ubiquitous access to client information – across devices – is becoming mainstream. Yet, only 48% of agencies currently provide mobile access of their management system to staff.  Mobile applications untether agents from the office by providing them with remote access to information and tools within the management system. Being able to conduct business on the go allows staff to be more productive and to take advantage of new opportunities.

Safeguarding what matters most is the core promise of insurance, which is why 72% of agencies rely on the cloud. Hosting the applications in the cloud that your agency uses day in and day out ensures continuous, secure business operations. By leveraging software that is accessible anytime, anywhere and backed up by redundancies, your business is always available to customers – even during a disastrous event that historically would have completely disrupted operations. Additionally, by eliminating the time and expense managing IT systems, more of your staff’s time can be spent selling insurance and servicing customers.

Data insights from management systems remain untapped with only 17% of agencies using a business intelligence tool. Year over year, the adoption of data analytics tools remains virtually unchanged. Regardless of size, revenue or geography, many agencies do not have the advantage of increased visibility and data-driven insights that data analytics tools provide. With more insights into client policy details, preferences and geography, agencies can focus on the most profitable growth areas, build stronger relationships with the most responsive insurer partners, and deliver a higher level of customer service.

Step into the Digital Age
While the independent insurance agency channel has progressed in its adoption of technology, this year’s results indicate that there is still considerable opportunity for agencies to digitally transform their business to provide complete connectivity to staff, insurers and insureds.

Regardless of where your agency ranks compared to your industry peers, understanding the role digital technology plays in delivering on the promise of insurance in a world more connected than ever before is the first step to ensuring your business thrives today, tomorrow and in the years ahead.

To gain more industry insights and to learn how technology can help your business grow, read the 2017 Digital Technology Adoption Benchmarks and Trends.  

Download the full Applied Digital Agency Annual Report >

IVANS Index: Premium Renewal Rate Change for November

December 08, 2017

by Matt Foran
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

Premium Renewal Rate for November Experienced Variable Change Across Nearly All Major Commercial Lines
IVANS index November results show the majority of standard commercial lines products remain in positive territory, with Workers’ Compensation remaining in negative for premium renewal rate change. Month to month, Commercial Auto, Business Owners Policy, and Workers’ Compensation trended upwards, while the remaining lines of business demonstrated a decline in premium renewal rate change.

This month’s key findings include:

  • Commercial Auto: 3.24%, up from 3.10% at the end of October.
  • BOP: 3.99%, up from 3.57% the month prior.
  • General Liability: 1.66%, down from 1.79% at the end of October.
  • Commercial Property: 2.78%, down from 2.83% the month prior.
  • Umbrella: 1.19%, down from 1.34% at the end of October.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -1.81%, up from -2.24% the month prior.

The latest IVANS Index figures continue to demonstrate variance month to month, as they did in October’s findings, with premium renewal rate change across the industry remaining mainly positive. As it closes in on year-end and renewal season, IVANS Index will provide guidance for agents advising clients on policy changes and insurers with market intelligence to support pricing strategies.

Download the full IVANS Index Q3 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

IVANS Index: Premium Renewal Rate Change for October

November 09, 2017

by Matt Foran
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IVANS Index is a data-driven report of current conditions and trends for premium renewal rate change of the most placed commercial lines of business in the insurance industry. Data collected in the IVANS Index enables insurers to determine competitive rates and the most profitable lines of business for investment. To learn more about IVANS Index, read IVANS Index: Get Ahead of Renewal Pricing for Your Clients.

October results show variable change across commercial product lines
The latest IVANS Index figures show that premium renewal rate change across the industry remained mostly positive through October, but demonstrated more variance month-to-month than prior months.

This month’s key findings include: 

  • Commercial Auto: 3.10%, up from 2.55% at the end of September.
  • BOP: 3.57%, down from 3.87% the month prior.
  • General Liability: 1.79%, up from 1.70% at the end of June.
  • Commercial Property: 2.83%, up from 2.40% the month prior.
  • Umbrella: 1.34%, down from 1.45% at the end of June.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -2.24%, down from -1.31% the month prior.

Rate change for the majority of standard commercial lines products remained in positive territory, with Workers Compensation remaining in the negative as in previous months. Business Owners Policy (BOP) continues to trend downward, but still remains as the line of business with the highest premium renewal rate change. The results of the IVANS Index continue to provide guidance on the most profitable lines of business for both insurers and agents.

Download the full IVANS Index Q3 Report >

Matt Foran, VP and general manager of IVANS Market Appetite, a division of Applied Systems, is responsible for the creation and strategic execution of the cutting edge distribution platform built for the commercial insurance industry. Prior to his current role, Matt was the CEO of EvoSure, which was acquired by Applied Systems in September 2015. Before co-founding EvoSure, Matt was the director of strategy for Zurich Specialty Products, a $2.5 billion business unit of Zurich Insurance Group, where he worked closely with the CEO and Senior Management to set overall strategic direction, develop and execute financial and operational plans, and lead execution of strategic initiatives. Previously, Matt served as assistant vice president of Marsh USA, with responsibilities including the initial formation of the Marsh & McLennan Agency, the Marsh Select Model, the restructuring of Marsh USA, and was a broker for healthcare and Fortune 500 firms. Matt was selected as a Global Rising Star by Reactions Magazine in 2011 and named in Insurance Business America magazine’s Hot 100 list for 2015.

Reach New Heights with Applied Epic

October 26, 2017

by Michael Howe
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Today, agents are currently facing a number of changes in the industry – increasing consolidation, the evolving workforce and new consumer experience expectations. Agencies often struggle with separate, disparate systems that are costly, difficult to integrate and even more challenging to maintain. Multiple systems require duplicative data entry and eliminate the opportunity to have a single source of truth for customer information.

To ensure your agency capitalizes on each business opportunity and provides the best customer service, it’s critical that each member of your staff – regardless of role – accesses the same customer details in their system. Purchasing additional licenses provides greater access to information for more of your staff, enabling your agency to eliminate time and cost spent managing multiple systems, discover new business opportunities and enhance your value as a trusted advisor with quicker service.

Here are a few examples of ways to integrate more processes, and ultimately staff, into a single application.

Manage Your Benefits Business
Managing your benefits business alongside your P&C business provides staff with a comprehensive view of the customer or prospect, enabling staff to quickly assist customers and easily identify cross- and upsell opportunities without having to go from one application to another. It eliminates manual processes like commission tracking and duplicate data entry so that your staff can be more productive and make better business decisions faster.

Track New and Renewal Sales Opportunities
Automating sales operations in your management system allows your sales staff to easily view, monitor, track and forecast new and renewals business directly within the application. Role-based, intuitive dashboards offer visual representations of performance making it easy for agents to track individual sales goals and forecast future opportunities. Having a single source of truth delivers real-time accurate data to your entire staff to ensure you offer complete coverage for all your customers’ insurance needs.      

How to Position Your Agency for Growth
Changing insurance marketplace dynamics require you to do more for your business in less time, particularly smaller agencies or brokerages where individuals are asked to fill multiple roles and manage many disparate tasks. It’s no longer enough to go un-automated with paper files and manual records. Disparate systems of record cannot support a growing digital agency.

More so than ever before, Applied Epic provides your agency with a comprehensive view of clients and prospects across all lines of business. Integrated capabilities provide greater insights to your sales pipeline and visibility into all lines of business to increase staff efficiency and lower administrative costs. Enabling more of your staff to leverage Applied Epic ensures you have one system of record – for all staff – allowing your agency to focus on the business of selling insurance and growing into the digital future.

View these short webinars on Sales Automation and Benefits to learn more.

Michael Howe, Applied SystemsMichael Howe, senior vice president of product management, Applied Systems, is responsible for the strategic direction of the Applied product portfolio. Howe joined Applied in 2013 with more than 20 years of experience in enterprise software. He formerly served as senior vice president of marketing and product management at Aptean, a global provider of industry-focused enterprise software. Prior to Aptean, Howe held senior executive management positions at SAP and other leading software companies.

2017 Digital Technology Adoption Trends

October 12, 2017

by Reid French
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From new industries to new economies, technology is changing the way we live and work. All of us are experiencing a more connected life in a more connected world. Those connected experiences are impacting the expectations of insurance consumers across our industry. To meet these expectations, our industry must deliver a connected experience between all participants in the insurance ecosystem. This means greater connectivity and simultaneous exchange of information between all key insurance stakeholders — agents, insurers, policyholders and prospective clients.

Charles Darwin once said, “We don’t have to be the strongest or the smartest to survive – we just have to be the most adaptable.” To ensure a lasting and profitable future, agencies and brokerages must integrate digital connectivity into daily operations, which requires adopting and leveraging modern technologies.

How well are agencies adapting to the digital transformation of insurance?
For the second consecutive year, Applied Systems has released insights from our Annual Digital Agency Survey, which reveals the latest industry-wide digital technology adoption benchmarks for independent agencies and overall industry progression toward digital transformation.

While the independent insurance agency channel has progressed in its adoption of technology, this year’s results indicate there is still considerable opportunity ahead to recognize the full potential of being a digital agency. Regardless of where your agency ranks compared to your industry peers, understanding the role digital technology plays in a world more connected than ever before is the first step to ensuring your business thrives today, tomorrow and in the years ahead.

Key findings from this year’s report

  • 44% is the average score for digital technology adoption for an independent agency in 2017
  • 144% higher revenue per employee is realized by agencies that have digitally transformed

Agency Management System

  • 30% more revenue per employee is realized by agencies that leverage an integrated management system
  • 25% of respondents do not have complete visibility into all departments within one management system

Insurer Connectivity

  • 17% higher revenue per employee is realized by agencies that leverage insurer connectivity to access markets and automate information exchange
  • 89% increase in eDocs and Messages download year over year

Mobile

  • 9% higher revenue per employee is realized by agencies that leverage client self-service portals
  • 4% higher revenue per employee is realized by agencies that provide clients mobile access to policy information

The Cloud

  • 35% higher revenue per employee is realized by agencies that reduce time and expenses by managing IT within the cloud
  • 66% of respondents rely on the cloud to host their agency management system

Data Analytics

  • 40% more revenue per employee is realized by agencies that utilize data-driven insights when making business decisions
  • 77% of respondents do not use a business intelligence tool

To learn more about how a digital agency delivers on the core promise of insurance – to safeguard and protect what matters most in people’s lives – read the 2017 Digital Technology Adoption Benchmarks and Trends.

Download the Full Report >

Reid FrenchReid French, Chief Executive Officer at Applied Systems, is responsible for the company’s overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson-Humphrey. French holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) and The Lovett School in Atlanta.

Applied Net 2017: Week in Review

September 28, 2017

by Applied Communications
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As more than 3,400 attendees can attest, Applied Net is THE forum to learn about the latest insurance technologies and strategies to prepare your business for digital transformation.

If you missed the world’s largest gathering of independent insurance agents and brokers in Vegas this year, all is not lost. Here’s a recap of Applied Net 2017, as experienced and reported by some of this year’s attendees.

Getting Ready for the Week

Whether catching the flight to Las Vegas, picking up a conference badge and those ever-important ribbons at the registration desk, or connecting with new and old Applied Net friends at the opening night reception, excitement was in the air as attendees descended upon the MGM Grand Las Vegas.  

Inspiring Keynotes

Tuesday’s opening keynotes set the tone for the week ahead. First, Applied Systems CEO Reid French took the stage to update us on the state of the insurance industry, and what digital transformation means for independent agencies and brokers. Then, one of the world’s greatest leaders, Admiral William H. McRaven, shared what his experiences as a Navy SEAL have taught him about leadership amidst turmoil, the power of teamwork and initiative, and the importance of never giving up.

On Wednesday, Michael Howe, SVP of Product Management, unveiled the latest Applied Digital Agency product innovations and roadmap, while Kris Hackney, EVP of Customer Experience, discussed how investing in people, process and technology can enable you to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Finally, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, shared how customer service, company culture and community can be successful business drivers.

Time to Learn

This year’s conference included more user-led education sessions than ever before. With more than 220 sessions and 11 different tracks to choose from, there was something for everyone. Some of the most popular sessions included Applied Epic Tips and Techniques, Improving the Use of Data in Your Everyday Operations, and 5 Ways to Transform Your Agency’s Digital Marketing.

Making Connections

As our alumni know well, Applied Net is the best place to network with agents and brokers from across the industry. We kicked off the week with great roundtable discussions at the Applied Net Networking Roundtables, where attendees chatted with new and old friends about topics of mutual interest. After sessions, attendees enjoyed exploring the Applied Net Exchange floor to network with peers, connect with exhibitors and test drive the latest product innovations.

Evening Events

In Las Vegas, everything is bigger and better. After full days of learning and networking, it was time to let loose! From being mesmerized by the daring acrobatics of KÀ by Cirque du Soleil to dancing the night away in one of the hottest nightclubs on the Las Vegas Strip, Applied Net 2017’s evening events showed us all how to have some fun, Vegas style.

Final Goodbyes

As the week came to a close, it was time to reflect on our time in Las Vegas and think about the knowledge and experiences we would be bringing home.

Looking Ahead

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If you experienced the excitement of Applied Net 2017 first-hand, leave a comment and tell us about your favorite part of the week.