Automation technology: Fostering adoption of behavior-changing systemsArticle added by Jim Ferrell on June 3, 2013
Jim Ferrell

Jim Ferrell

Joined: July 18, 2012

An insurance agency’s back office is filled with cobbled-together vendor systems, selected and designed to meet an extremely specific way of doing business. Since no two agencies are alike, these infrastructures can vary considerably from carrier to distributor, making technology adoption a challenge. The adoption of new technology by the agency’s sales force must bring benefit above and beyond today’s current process and cannot just be change for the sake of change.

Adoption of automation technologies has historically taken the approach of: build it, pilot it, tweak it and expect the advisors, whose primary focus is to provide suitable investment advice to their clients, to arrive in masses to use the new technology that will change their business processing world forever. This perception, although partially true, does not successfully deliver without first understanding the target audience. It also needs behavior-changing technology that brings enough added benefit to entice exploration and adaptation.

The key to automation

Regardless of line of business, the key to automation is providing enough value to the end users to invoke the desire to change or adapt. What value will invoke change? The following are technology best practices for better advisor adoption of behavior-changing technology:
  • Integration: The technology must integrate well with the pre-sales and CRM tools in use today to eliminate data re-entry.

  • Accessibility: The technology platform must be easy to use, pick up, learn and adapt. Ease of use is paramount; first impressions are critical to adoption.

  • Availability: The platform must be device agnostic. While not all advisors are leveraging multiple devices, tablet devices are extremely pervasive. They can no longer be ignored.

  • Enhancement: The technology must enhance the advisor's ability to conduct business and can never impede business; it must make it easier to sell.

  • Affordability: The price point must meet the expectations of the market space. Price is key to gaining adoption through the distribution chain from top to bottom.

  • Continuity: The technology platform cannot be dramatically different from today’s business process as to force a steep learning curve. Attempting to push a sales force into a new process when it’s optional will guarantee limited adoption success.

  • Adaptability: The technology should be adaptable, present the same user experience across multiple lines of business, and support complex non-standard hybrid products without additional costs.
First impressions are critical; ease of use is paramount; price is king; and above all, technology must be flexible to today’s usage of various devices. New technology must integrate well, leverage data already captured by other vendor systems up and/or downstream, and make business processes easier for the advisor. By providing these value propositions supported by an adoption strategy, carriers can successfully change the industry standard and achieve real return on investment.

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