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Go Figure: The Funny Thing About Self Service

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, February 26, 2010

Imagine if you were to go to your paying customers or producers and inform them you will be handing over to them your most boring, repetitive, thankless work … and then expect them to pay you for the honor?

I always thought one of the oddest effects of information technology was that not only would companies be handing data entry work over to customers, but that would be a major selling point as well! There's no denying it; the end-goal for many insurance companies is to bring self-service to all aspects of customer and agent interfaces. And everybody wants it. And, as a result, customers do their own data entry work for you.

Self-service is considered the holy grail of analytics, SOA, social networking and Web commerce. There’s no disputing that there's lots of ROI potential. In the IT world, data entry is grunt work, and I’m sure most carriers are only too glad to get data entry off their hands.

IT and the Web also have brought about a number of other “go-figure” perceptions or paradoxes. Consider some others:

•    Developers and programmers, who have always demanded a premium price for their work, will happily toil for hours, days and weeks to supply free software to the world ... via the open source model.

•    “Legacy,” usually a term of honor, is a dirty word in IT circles. (See my post from last summer for more thoughts on this.)

•    Everyone worries about what's being said in corporate e-mails that may be only seen by one other person (many carry legal warnings at the bottom), but there seems to be no limits to statements made on social network sites that millions may see.

•    Everyone hates “silos,” but they are forever springing up all over the place.

•    Vendors will tell you how last year's technology was slow and limited. But that wasn't their tune a year ago when they were pitching it.

•    The largest, or most visible vendor, is always “The Evil Empire.” In the 1980s, it was IBM (remember Apple's “1984” ad?), in the 1990s it was Microsoft, now Google seems to be getting the honor.

Anybody have more examples of odd paradoxes or perceptions the IT world brings about?

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.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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

Comments (1)

Self service is a wonderful way for insurers to offload a portion of administrative costs, but has its risks.

The ability to check insurance eligibility (particularly health insurance) online just by entering a name or other identifier can be an invitation for fraud and abuse. It has, and continues to happen to this day

Posted by: Jeff L | February 26, 2010 1:26 PM

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