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New Frontier for Growth: Improved Information Sharing Within Distribution Channels

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 10, 2009

Celent just published a report on the challenges insurers face in managing their various distribution channels, including agents, career salespeople, brokers and the Internet.

The greatest challenge, Celent concludes, is the siloed environments that exist across insurance organizations. As the report puts it: “in a typical insurance environment, multiple departments perform separate tasks in the cycle. These involve a substantial volume of transactions and data. Coordination of activity and integration of information is minimal. Processes and systems were designed for an environment that was much more stable and predictable that currently exists.”

What are the implications of these silos of information and non-communicative departments? There could be a direct hit on the bottom line. Issues resulting include “poor service, a lack of insight into producer performance, unreliable data and high support costs.” These failures could cost more in a slow-growth economy.

One area ripe for transformation is information-sharing within distribution management solutions, Celent observes. This includes the “producer management functions of appointment, commission, compliance and registration management,” along with support functions such as “document management, workflow and rules management.”

Mike Fitzgerald, senior analyst with Celent's Insurance group and author of the report, says "the producer management lifecycle is characterized by multiple activities and numerous handoffs. Distribution solutions that increase coordination and consistency improve agent service, decrease expenses, and attract business."

Celent also observed a convergence occurring between what has historically been labeled enterprise incentive management and licensing and compliance systems. Solutions are beginning to emerge that accomplish all of the tasks involved in the full lifecycle of a company-producer relationship. 

As a result of this convergence, Celent expects to see increased integration and capabilities for self-service portals, as well as increased workflow automation.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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