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2012 Key Trends and Industry Must Do Issues

ACT Strategic/Future Issues Work Group

Updated: May 8, 2012
ACT’s 2009 Trends & “Must Do” Issues Report had two major areas:

1. The four (4) Key Trends we believed would have the greatest impact on our industry and would help shape our businesses and economy for several years to come. These four trends included:

  • Social Web
  • Demographic/Societal Transformation
  • On Demand & Location-Relevant Information
  • Emergence of Social Marketing

2. The action plan within the 2009 report detailed three (3) “Must-Do” issues that the Strategic Future Issues (SFI) work group encouraged the industry to embrace and plan ways to accomplish. We also detailed ways we could attain these goals, including creation of specific ACT work groups.

  • Increase industry awareness and collaboration on security & privacy (Security Issues Work Group, Agency Security Best Practices Work Group.
  • Continue industry coordination & focus on agency-carrier-consumer process improvement (Support of Real Time/Download Campaign)
  • Point the way for the industry to achieve an interactive web presence (Social Web Work Group).

Outcomes from September 2011 ACT meeting

** Note: We need to ensure our focus remains on ‘’hard trends” within this document – The role of the SFI is strategic – other ACT work groups will handle the “tactical” facets of identified issues.
From the input gained at our September 2011 ACT meetings in Minneapolis and subsequent meetings of the SFI work group, we are recommending the following updates and additions to create a “2012 Trends” report. Our focus will be to stay “pace-aware” – meaning to focus our efforts at the pace technology advances within, and outside of our industry.
2012 Hard Trends

“Hard” trends are those that we believe are permanent and will change the reality with which we must deal. The four key Hard Trends we identified in 2009, while still valid, have been revised and/or expanded and a new trend has been added. These five revised trends are:

1. New: Social Web (old: Social Web) – This remains a hard trend and has increased in its influence on our society.

2. New: Demographic/Diversity Transformation (old: Demographic/Societal Transformation) – We would replace ‘Societal’ with ‘Diversity’ – diversity in every sense of the word (age, ethnicity, culture, gender). Examples would include producers, service reps and owners from 23 to 73 all working together within agencies, as well as the increasing number of Spanish and Asian-speaking consumers. Each of these groups may have different preferences as to how they want to interact with their business partners.

3. New: Mobile and Mobility (old: On Demand & Location-Relevant Information) – In 2009, this was the beginning of what has now become the hard trend of Mobile and Mobility.

4. New: Connected Consumer (old: Emergence of Social Marketing) – We have reworked this trend and have now identified the hard trend to be that of the Connected Consumer. These consumers are empowered through changing technology to interact with the world around them, and thereby to shape how business responds. They find, share and communicate information differently than the “traditional” consumer. They live on smartphones and tablets and network with friends and businesses through social and mobile technologies. In short, they make buying decisions differently and broadcast those decisions to their networked community. Reaching and responding to this consumer requires both different strategies and tactics than traditional methods of marketing and communication.

5. New: Data Availability and Analytics – New technologies and techniques are making possible the capture and analysis of more and more data, enabling agencies to integrate this business intelligence into their decision making in real time and to understand their consumers and operations better. These data analytic capabilities have significantly changed how insurance carriers make their decisions over the last several years, but there are major opportunities for independent agencies to harness this business intelligence to enhance their marketing, sales, servicing and management processes.

2012 Industry “Must-Do” Issues

Industry “Must Do” Issues are those that the industry agrees to rally around and accomplish because they are critical to the future of our distribution system. To accompany the revised Hard Trends above, the SFI work group recommends this revised list of “Must-Do” issues for the industry to commit to and undertake in 2012 and beyond. These “Must-Do” issues are detailed below and encourage the creation of specific ACT work groups and additional initiatives across the industry. All of these “Must Do” issues and recommended initiatives overlap and inter-relate, requiring that there be communication and close coordination among the work groups and that the work products from each illustrate how they contribute a part to the overall technology enabled distribution system.

1. Increase industry awareness and collaboration on security & information privacy (Security Issues Work Group, Agency Security “Best Practices” Work Group, HIPAA Security Work Group). We feel this remains an “umbrella” “Must Do”. That is, without proper resolve to achieve the appropriate security and privacy safeguards, our industry will not be able to move forward successfully on the other “Must Do” initiatives.

2. Continue industry coordination & focus on agency-carrier-consumer process improvements (Real Time/Download Campaign, Mid-Commercial Work Group and Mobile Strategies Work Group, as well as support of ID Federation and E&S Joint Working Group) – This too remains an important and on-going initiative. Addressing the identifed Hard Trends in an effective manner will require (perhaps more than ever) a collaborative effort between agents and carriers and the development and implementation of efficient and effective processes.

3. Point the way for the industry to achieve an effective digital presence – This initiative is primarily the focus of the Social Web Work Group and the Mobile Strategies Work Group. This continues to be both a key driver and an evolving focus area. Our Social Web Work Group has addressed this topic in a number of ways, creating a guide to assist agencies in the development of their social networking policies, as well as several additional articles, podcasts and recorded webinars. We have seen an increase in agent utilization of the Social Web; however, we feel this continues to be a priority. Our plan is to promote the social media strategies that are working for agencies and how agencies are managing these tools effectively. The group’s feedback is that “Social Media” is rapidly becoming just “Media” due to its ubiquity.

4. Identify the characteristics that will be needed by agencies to succeed in the future and provide guidance on how to achieve them. Given the significant changes that are taking place in society and advancements in social and mobile technologies, ACT’s Agencies of the Future, Mobile Strategies, and Social Web Work Groups all will play a role in identifying these characteristics and how to incorporate them as an integral part of the agency.

The hard trend “Demographic & Diversity Transformation” continues to evolve and be an area of challenge for agents and should be discussed within the Agencies of the Future Work Group. It is an important subset, and focuses on the way consumers shop, get information, and interact with agents – along with the diversity found among agency employees working together.

Yet, perhaps most importantly, the trend of the Connected Consumer and the changes necessary to connect, network, and communicate with them will have the greatest impact on agencies of the future. Recommendations for ACT include:

  • Ensure that communication/collaboration exists between Agencies of the Future and Mobile Strategies and Social Media Work Groups, as they address the Connected Consumer.
  • Determine how agents will approach doing business effectively with the rapidly changing ‘face’ of the consumer – the different cultural groups which each have their preferences as to how they want to do business. (e.g., Hispanic & Asian groups tend to want to come to office or have personal visits, whereas others increasingly want to do business remotely and have self-service options.) Ensure we recognize and develop tools to track the variety of communication methods different clients want.
  • Create guidelines to assist agents with managing a client base who are at differing stages of a transition with respect to the communications methods they use to communicate with businesses.
  • Note the increased need to focus on security and information privacy as an “umbrella” issue across ACT work groups due to an increasing digital presence and the incorporation of other new technologies.

5. Investigate and suggest appropiate/relevant mobile strategies for our industry. This need has led to the creation of a Mobile Strategies Work Group. The concept of on-demand and location-relevant has evolved into the bigger concept of a “connected consumer” and should be considered within the Mobile Strategies Work Group as part of the larger topic of mobile technology and the concept of mobility. In addition to ACT, it is important for the entire industry to address these issues. Our recommendations for the ACT Mobile Strategies Work Group include:

  • Ensure that communication/collaboration exists between this work group and “Agencies of the Future” and “Social Media”.
  • The work group should recognize the variety of communication methods.
  • Recognize and address security and information privacy as an “umbrella” issue. Note the increased focus on this area due to technology advancement.
  • Evaluate current processes and how they might be improved or reinvented, taking mobile technology and the connected consumer into consideration. Understand the need for functions to support sales, marketing and service – performed by both consumers or agents in the field. Consider changes such as Cloud and the need for current and emerging functions to be accessed on all mobile platforms. 

6. Identify effective strategy for engagement with the new Connected Consumer. Evolution of the Business Relationship to one of creating an “experience” for the consumer where personal relationships continue to be important but are being enhanced by digital components. Our entry into the “Era of Experience” was explored at the September 2011 ACT meeting, a result driven by the primary consumer and technology trends. Some of the key components:

  • ‘Trust’ continues to be a core driver – perhaps even more so in the current economic and governmental climate.
  • We need to consider:
    ◦How personal relationships are being enhanced with digital components.
    ◦How agents can use the digital world to ‘tighten’ their relationship with their clients.
    ◦How digital platforms are re-shaping the way in which people interact with the world.
    ◦How consumers are taking control, or influencing, their communications preferences.
    ◦How various demographic and cultural groups may have different preferences as to how they want to communicate and interact with their business partners.
    ◦How all of these things are influencing the need for individually-tailored business relationships, which businesses are able to track and manage.
  • Consumers (both personal and commercial, customers and prospects) experiencing multiple channel/device, anytime/anywhere access to information from their other service providers – expecting the same from their insurance relationships.
  • Develop materials and tools to enable agencies to reach out to match their clients’ expectations for communications and overall experiences and to manage these client preferences. We are moving from the online customer to the “connected” customer.
    These issues provide key areas for the Agencies of the Future Work Group to focus on in the future.

7. Identify opportunities and best practices for leveraging Business Intelligence (BI) to assist agents. Our challenge is to understand the emerging BI and analytics tools available, what agents need from carriers and vendors, and how these need can be addressed and integrated into preferred agent workflows. A group has been formed to hold intial discussion and investigation in this area – The BI Think Tank. The group will discuss and develop best practices for:

  • What BI functionality will help agents with their marketing, sales, servicing and management functions.
  • How can carriers and vendors (including third party vendors) provide this information.
  • What functions can/should be integrated into agency systems.
  • Develop recommendations for improved reports and access to information from agency systems.
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