Applied Systems Reveals Digital Agency Survey Findings and Industry Benchmark
Inaugural survey establishes industry-wide benchmark to measure insurance agency & brokerage adoption of digital technology
University Park, Ill. – Sept. 20, 2016 – Applied Systems today announced the findings of its inaugural Applied Digital Agency Survey, providing an industry-wide benchmark for agencies to measure their digital technology adoption and progression towards digital transformation. The 2016 Applied Digital Agency Survey results indicate that the independent insurance agency channel lags behind other financial services industries with regards to technology adoption.
Key survey findings include:
- Foundational agency management system: The center of the digital agency is a foundational agency management system to efficiently manage customer relationships, policy and benefits administration, sales automation, financial accounting processes and document management across the entire agency in one application. The majority of agencies surveyed performed very well in this category. Ninety-eight percent of agencies use a management system, and of those, 75% stated they have visibility across all departments, including P&C, Benefits and Sales. Ninety-two percent stated they rely on their management system for document management, while 81% stated they rely on their management system for reporting and accounting.
- Business intelligence: Business Intelligence applications in the insurance industry enable agents to uncover insights that inform strategic decision making. The majority of agencies surveyed (76 percent) did not use a business intelligence solution to gain insights from their agency management system data. Those agents that embrace the data analytics trend will be well ahead of the competition, as they gain more data-driven insights to make better business decisions.
- Insurer Connectivity: The ability to communicate and automate data exchange securely and seamlessly from insurer systems directly to agency management systems is a key component of digital agencies. According to the survey, 94% of agencies use at least one type of download processing technology. Yet, with 59 percent of agency-MGA-carrier connections not activated by agencies, there is potential for even more automation from insurer connectivity.
- Cloud: The cloud allows digital agencies to move core software applications to offsite data centers for improved performance, flexibility and security, safeguarding data and providing better customer service from anywhere. More than 60 percent of agents surveyed rely on the cloud to host their agency management system. Additionally, the survey found agencies that leverage cloud technology have 16 percent higher revenue per employee than those that don’t.
- Client Portals: Client portals enable an agency’s insured to gain access to their insurance information via a password protected web portal or a mobile app under the agency or brokerage’s unique brand. Only 25% of agencies surveyed use a client self-service portal. Additionally, the survey found agencies that provide clients with a self-service application are realizing 9% higher revenue per employee.
- Mobile: Mobility enables agencies to provide insureds and staff anytime access to insurance information from any device. Despite the ubiquity of mobility in business and personal life, only 17% of agencies surveyed provide either clients or employees with a mobile app. From a large agency perspective, there is stronger adoption, with 45% of large agencies surveyed providing staff with access to their management system data outside of the office via a mobile device.
“Across the financial services sector, businesses are leveraging innovative digital sales and service technologies to drive sales and create omnichannel servicing options for their customers,” said Reid French, chief executive officer, Applied Systems. “This survey poignantly illustrates the opportunity for the independent agent channel to do the same by embracing business intelligence, mobility and other technologies that improve the customer experience and enhance their competitive position in an economy where consumers expect technology-enabled customer service.”
More than 1,000 independent agencies across the U.S. participated in the 2016 Applied Digital Agency Survey. Respondents were asked a set of 15 questions about the use of technology at their agencies. Responses provided the data to calculate a digital score for each agency taking the survey and identify baselines for technology adoption.
The survey questions examined five core competencies of a digital agency, including agency management system capabilities, business intelligence, insurer download adoption, cloud software, client portal and mobility. Agencies scoring an 80% or above across all core competencies were considered to be a digital agency, having adopted most of the key drivers of digital transformation. To excel in each competency and achieve true digital transformation, agencies must embrace technology, enabling faster business growth and higher profits.
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About Applied Systems
Applied Systems is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance. Recognized as a pioneer in insurance automation and data exchange between brokerages, insurers and their clients, Applied is the world’s largest provider of agency and brokerage management systems, serving customers throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom. By
automating the insurance lifecycle, Applied enables millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most.