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Collaboration Roadmap – Implications for Distribution

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Several analysts at the 2011 Insurance Canada Technology Conference noted a trend towards collaboration on data and documents within the insurance community.  See our post on some of these.  A recently published article in CMS Wire by Joe Shepley, a strategy consulting professional, provides a roadmap that could be used by insurers, brokers,  claims professionals and risk managers who are interested in exploring the potential positive impacts of collaboration. We’ll introduce the roadmap and look at an example with the insurer-broker relationships in this post.

The underlying premise in the model is that social media tools that are becoming more important in our personal lives will begin to penetrate our work lives.   The prediction is that, over 18-24 months, we will increasingly use  collaborative tools to develop, store, and consume documents at work.

Sheply provides at roadmap that suggests the timing and impact will depend on two dimensions:  The useful lifespan of the document, and the fluidity (frequency of change) of the document.  This is illustrated in the figure below, using generic business documents.  Sheply suggests:  “As we move from lower left to upper right, the likelihood increases that over the next two years these documents will tend to fall out of use and be replaced with other modes of communication, such as microblogging, community spaces, threaded conversations, wikis and so on.”

How would this apply to the insurer-broker relationship?  What would be documents that have a short life span, and high fluidity?  Probably prospecting materials, initial contact records, etc. would be prime targets for the use of social media tools.  For example, an insurance carrier and a group of brokers might share a marketing list which the brokers use to prospect from for a specific program.  On a collaborative site, the insurer could monitor the program activity and add additional information to supplement the activities, adding other team members – underwriters, claims specialists, etc. – as required.

As a prospect develops, the information becomes less fluid, with specific quotes, and have a longer life, ultimately turning into quotes and policies.  Through this, however, there will be a permananet, shared record of the transactions.

This happens now, but without a shared collaboration platform, there is substantial work to maintain the records an monitor the success of programs.  Many of the social media platforms come with these tools baked in.

We’ll come back to this model again to look at other business functions.  In the mean time, we’d be interested in your comments and experiences.

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