Investing in business tech: 5 questions insurance brokers should ask before they buy

Be honest. Does IT sometimes give you a headache?

And does this scenario sound familiar: You know you need to upgrade your technology to keep your business competitive, or to give it a boost, but you really aren’t sure which horse to back?

Well, if you’ve answered yes to either of the above, you’re not alone. The world of tech can be a tough one to navigate for any business – and we reckon it’s even harder in the insurance broker industry. Many brokers are starting from a very low-tech environment in the first place, so have little or no business IT experience on which to base their decision-making. They’re also, in many cases, getting left behind by other sectors within the financial services industry – for example, in the way they maximise the value of customer data within their business, or how they use technology to make their processes more efficient.

The problem is, there are so many different possible routes to take – when, for example, deploying a digital CRM (customer relationship management) system that might help improve your sales – that it’s hard to commit to one without worrying that you’ve taken a wrong turn.

At the same time, brokers that want to ensure they have a viable future, in a world where disintermediation is a growing problem, know that standing still isn’t even an option. You need to make a decision or run the risk of losing competitive advantage to your rivals – or just becoming irrelevant.

In our experience, one of the keys to making the right choices – without having to break out the paracetamol – is to ask yourself some simple questions before making a commitment. Here, Cognition24’s directors, Tim Chisnall and Andy Nellis, talk you through them – and help you find a few answers.

1. Is your technology in line with your business goals?

“Time and time again, we see brokers – and all kinds of other businesses – that are good at expressing how their current solutions are not fit for purpose,” says Andy. “But they’re rubbish at telling us exactly what any new solution needs to do to help them achieve their operational and strategic objectives.

“In cases like this, we advise a Landscape Review which helps organisations define their short-, medium- and long-term technology plans by looking at the different solutions available to them through the lens of their business goals.”

And what if your current technology isn’t shaping up to deliver the right outcomes? “Then give it the boot and look for something different,” says Andy.

2. Is your system frustratingly fragmented?

“In an ideal world, all the IT systems in your organisation need to join up and complement each other – or at least that should be the ultimate goal,” says Tim.

“So, you should be considering any solution in the wider context of your business as a whole, and whether it can be integrated with other systems. If it’s only going to make things more complicated – and bring on that headache – sit down in a dark room, have a cup of tea, and consider looking elsewhere before making a commitment.”

3. Are you having trouble with your data?

“Some people want you to believe that you can’t have enough data,” says Tim. “But don’t listen to them. If you’ve got more than you can physically handle, or if data management is eating up a lot of your time, you’ll just end up like a dog chasing a bus and won’t be able to derive any value from anything.”

Meanwhile, technology should make data collection and processing easier, not harder, he stresses. “So, focus on the solutions that can provide analysis of your data most usefully. Keep things as smart, clean and simple as possible – then you’ll have a better chance of spotting the trends that might lead you to a killer insight and a competitive advantage.”

4. Have you experienced data breaches, or had difficulty keeping up with security threats?

“If you’re finding it tough to stay on top of security, it could be a sign that your systems are too fragmented,” warns Tim.

“The more widespread your technology, the more access points there are into your business,” he says. “And now that GDPR is in full force – meaning you risk landing a huge fine and untold reputational damage if you were to suffer a breach – you need to consider the data security implications of every piece of tech you install and run.”

5. Are you making your customer a part of every tech purchase?

“If the technology doesn’t have a direct link back to customer experience (or CX, as the current jargon goes), you should think twice – or even three times – before implementing it,” says Andy.

“That’s not to say that every piece of tech is going to have a specific impact on customers,” he adds. “For example, an in-house project management tool won’t have direct benefits outside the business, but if it reduces the amount of time your team are spending on managing schedules or basic admin, they’ll be able to provide a better service to your customers. And customer service, as we all know, is always going to be a key differentiator in the world of insurance broking.”

If you’d like help with getting more detailed and personalised responses to these questions, then get in touch with Cognition24’s advisory team – we’re here to make tech for insurance brokers as useful and simple as possible.

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