Can you spell Relevant with IT in an insurance agency

There is a ton of opportunity for the right IT departments in insurance agencies today. There is also more risk for IT departments than in the past. We are attacked at every angle as we try to defend our relevance in organizations that are moving more and more infrastructure to the cloud and depending more on consumer products in the marketplace than legacy software.

In the same manner our agencies are being attacked more than ever before. With the coming glut of fintech offerings that will disrupt our industry, IT is poised to redefine itself in the coming years. We have always been asking for a seat at the table, to come out of the shadows of the server room and now more than ever I feel our agencies need us, our guidance, our expertise and our passion.

There is a ton fear out there today for agency owners. According to one study by PWC 22% of insurance businesses are at risk in the next 5 years. What I see coming is a loss of business in agencies where the risk is easy to write. Core personal lines, small business accounts, middle market or any of the vanilla coverage stuff. These consumers are looking for fast quotes, no bells and whistles coverage and not a lot of service. These fintech startups are gearing up for those consumers specifically . Unfortunately for us these clients are a profitable section of business for agencies. Every day we see articles about the coming onslaught of competitors that have names like zebra or insurify instead of the broker down the street. We were fortunate with Zenefits shady practices because I believe that set fintech back a bit. But not for long and not very much. The next Zenefits is coming and the next one after that and each iteration will get better and better. So what are we as IT people supposed to do about it?

The first and most important is to start asking some questions. What do we look like in 5–10 years? What do we look like if we lost 20–30% of middle market, small business, core personal lines? How do we provide true value? How do we quantify that value? Do we have the right type of staff to deal with these changes?

Most of the agency principles know this stuff is coming and the more progressive ones have already started strategies to remain relevant if the easy to insure stuff is gone. If you are in a shop that hasn’t started this discussions its you need to start this conversation.

You have to be driving efficiency. We have to be constantly looking for ways to change processes, cut out unneeded steps, make communication easier and helping the business understand the business. You may be thinking, that is not IT. But in all reality that is exactly what IT in an insurance agency looks like going forward. If you are a hardware person that loves powershell, servers and eeking out every bit of performance out of desktops then you are probably not the right fit to lead an insurance agency in the next 5–10 years. There are lots of places that need those skills but not in sub 50–75 million revenue shops.

You have to be constantly reading. I feel its a core responsibility of mine to be knowledgeable about the new competitors and the new technologies and how we might leverage them and use them. If you are in tech today I assume you spend 2ish hours a day reading some form of tech news and if not you probably need to up your reading game.

You have to know the business. No longer can we take the attitude that business and IT is separate. You need to understand what drives revenue in your shop, the data that reflects the productivity or your agency, the main concerns and opportunities of your agency. And you have to be involved in the developing the strategies to maximize the opportunities and minimize the risk.

If you are an IT pro in insurance today and are not involved with the above stuff I would be concerned. I would be concerned for my long term viability as an asset to the organization and I would be concerned about the agency at large. many agencies still view IT as plumbing but in the next 5–10 years those that do will either change that opinion or perish.

If you are involved in the above then your department and your agency is well on its way to remaining relevant.

Happy day to you!

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