In the tech guru business, one can’t be at a loss for words, but believe it or not, I’ve had a really difficult time deciding what to focus on in summarizing my experience at the ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum, held recently in Las Vegas. Certainly, it’s not that nothing noteworthy happened. On the contrary, there was just so much going on that it’s really difficult to condense it all into this space.
Let me start with the positives.
ACORD and LOMA did a really good job in their education sessions at achieving their separate goals of promoting standards and providing information to help improve the efficiency of insurance organizations.
The sessions I attended were well thought out and occasionally spiced with a bit of controversy–in stark contrast to the sterile, self-promotional offerings we’ve seen at previous events. While there was still too much self-promotion, the panels especially were more interesting and less scripted than similar offerings in years past.
On the theater-of-the-absurd side, we had a less-than-startling headline coming out of the latest AUGIE survey. The more than 7,500 agent respondents noted a press release, “Point To Workflow Frustration, Needed Changes.” No! Really? And here I thought most independent agents just loved the variety offered them by hundreds of proprietary insurer Websites and administrative systems. Live and learn.
Can anyone explain to me why we continue to ask agents to spend their valuable time answering survey questions to which we already know the answers? (To be fair, there was some interesting information coming out of the survey on agents’ lack of ability to protect customer privacy and to secure their data. That actually was new and useful. Quite a breakthrough, I’d say.)
Meanwhile, technology giants Microsoft and IBM continued to fight it out at the forum for platforms and services dominance in the insurance space.
Microsoft announced its Insurance Value Chain Architecture Framework–which, according to a company representative, “helps insurance customers buy pre-integrated Microsoft partner applications.” At the same time, the representative dubbed IBM’s insurance architecture “proprietary and monolithic, based on IBM product suites and requiring massive consulting contracts to implement.”
Kevin Kelly, managing director for the U.S. insurance industry at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, explained that “our strategy is to deploy innovation through our partners and through our easy-to-understand framework that is specific to insurance business processing. That reduces integration expense and allows you to choose among the partners.”