Reliance on technology in the business world is only growing, so it should come as no surprise that spending in this market is on the rise, too.
International Data Corporation reported in April that the business technology spending market would increase from $236.6 billion in 2012 to $330.7 billion in 2017.
“The connection between technology and business is accelerating at lightening pace as business users adopt what IDC refers to as the ‘four pillars’ – cloud, social, mobile, and analytics,” Eileen Smith, a program manager of the global technology and industry research organization at IDC, stated. “Investments in these key areas are driving business funded technology to reach $275.2 billion in the United States in 2014, accounting for 55 percent of total technology spending.”
Meanwhile, in June, worldwide spending on information technology was on track to hit $3.7 trillion during 2014, according to Gartner. This number was forecast to rise further in the immediate years ahead.
“IT is entering its third phase of development, moving from a focus on technology and processes in the past to a focus in the future on new business models enabled by digitalization,” Richard Gordon, managing vice president at Gartner, said.
Still, you may be wondering: Where do insurance producers fit into all this? Based on a report from the Life Insurance Management Research Association, producers are no different from the rest of the business world when it comes to dependence on technology.
However, new technology doesn’t count for much if it’s not implemented correctly. The LIMRA report highlighted what companies are doing to try and support sales for their producers with technology, and the lessons gleaned could be valuable to producers themselves when it comes to putting technology to work for clients.
Companies giving a boost to online profiles
According to LIMRA, the vast majority of companies that distribute through financial professionals provide websites for them. In fact, 93 percent provide websites that usually feature basic contact information, pending business statuses and commission statements.
Meanwhile, companies are also trying to streamline processes for producers through the use of e-applications and e-signatures. Seventy-six percent of companies use the former while 60 percent utilize the latter. These are particularly popular with companies with only independent channels, according to LIMRA.
Of course, getting producers to use the technology provided can be easier said than done. LIMRA reported that 40 percent of companies consider training programs the best way to encourage technology adoption among producers. Meanwhile, emails with embedded links are also common, cited as the most effective strategy for adoption by 23 percent of companies.
Producers should follow suit with clients
Even with the tools provided by companies, it’s ultimately up to insurance producers to put them to good use. Fortunately, taking a page out of these companies’ handbooks can be just the strategy needed.
First, producer websites need to be optimized to provide visitors with the information they’re looking for as quickly and painlessly as possible. An easy-to-use site is far more likely to generate business.
Next, highlighting the use of e-applications and e-signatures is a good idea, as this will streamline the process for potential clients, cutting down on both paperwork and time consumed.
However, just as with companies, the hardest hurdle for producers to clear is getting clients to actually follow advice and adopt the products and services you provide them. And also just like with companies, it’s up to you to “train” them, only in this case, training refers to education regarding the risks they face and the value of the solutions you can implement, such as life insurance or coverage for long-term care.
The primary goal, however, is conveying value. Clients are unlikely to implement specific products and services if they don’t fully understand how they can benefit from them.