Insurers, top-level product distributors and tech companies have spent the past 20 years racing to come up with the most advanced, most attention-grabbing tools and features they can think up.
Roger LaVine, vice president of product development at Coconut Creek, Florida-based Computer Solutions and Software International L.L.C., says he thinks the new big thing is companies trying to get all those great tools to work together smoothly.
The company LaVine works for, which is generally known as VUE Software, makes systems that can help health insurers, and life and annuity issuers, manage their complicated distribution organizations, including the maze-like compliance and compensation rules that apply to the people in those organizations.
The people in the life and annuity sector and the health sector may feel as if everything is much more uncertain than it’s ever been.
From the perspective of LaVine, who has a doctorate in psychology, the picture looks different.
“The uncertainty is about the same as ever,” he said recently in an interview.
But he also talked about seeing two insurance tech Americas.
In one of those insurance tech Americas, the bad one, executives go to bed at night wondering what they will do about all of those old legacy systems that are still using COBOL.
In the good insurance tech America, companies with well-upgraded systems are thinking about new ways to make their systems even more efficient, and to automate even more of the processes that are still being handled manually.
And LaVine has some ideas about how to make the systems more… pleasant.
Roger LaVine thinks companies need to make system components work like part of one sleek information organism. (Photo: Thinkstock)
Drums, violins and fire alarms
In the past, many companies in financial services information systems have focused on adding capabilities, and bringing in data and services from multiple sources.
Too often, LaVine said, companies have left each module operating according to its own rules, without doing enough to unify and simplify the user’s experience.
Here are LaVine’s ideas for bringing harmony to the agent or broker’s desktop, laptop or phone screen.
1. Let information flow
Some people who are worried about privacy might want to keep their data as siloed as possible, but, when most people are using websites or other information systems, they find they like seeing the computer eliminate the drudgework involved with entering the same identifying information over and over and over again, LaVine said.
2. Be brave
Many companies hide a large amount of live-human labor behind what look to users like “fully automated systems,” LaVine said.
He said the most advanced companies are starting to at least think about eliminating the last live-human intervention bottlenecks.
They might not be quite brave enough to get to that point, just now, but “that’s the vision they’re going for,” LaVine said.
Too often, LaVine said, different parts of the same site work differently, simply because the providers of the tools set things up differently, or simply because no one has made a serious effort to standardize how everything works.
Companies need to start sanding off the little quirks that get in the way of standardization and fight that experience fragmentation, LaVine said.
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