Editor’s Note: Amanda is studying Business and Finance. She attended the recent ACORD/LOMA Insurance Systems Forum and accepted our invitation to share her impressions.
I stared the conference off by listening in on a panel discussion about Agent Council for Technology (ACT). I found it a perfect way to start off because it introduced everyone into what ACT really is and how companies have incorporated it. I think that ACT serves as the catalyst to generating ideas to progress the insurance industry. It connects vendors, carriers and agents so that they can discuss what the industry is doing right and what things they are behind the ball in.
One topic that was greatly discussed over the entire conference was the under utilization of social media. I attended a break out session that brought up this topic and I left the room frankly feeling very frustrated. When we all reconvened in the original meeting room we were asked if there were any take always or “aha moments”. So I took to the microphone and was able to voice my opinion then. I questioned why there seemed to be this fear of social media. It was brought up that some companies have hired people of my generation to run social media within their organizations. Now I am all for helping out but I do not think an entire industry needs its hand held trying to work through this problem. It’s like learning anything new. At first it can be intimidating, then you get your foot through the door, you start to learn, there are bumps along the way but in the end you have gained experience, knowledge and now have a new tool at your disposal. However, if fear stops you from taking a first step, it is no wonder why a delay is the outcome of that hesitancy. Now I realize this is all easier said than done.
My suggestion on how to get started is to go ahead and hire a person to coordinate social media for your company but not before every employee knows how to use, and can teach what media your company plans on using. It seems that the majority of people in this industry know how to use an agency management system. How employees had to learn this system is how learning social media should be approached. Also, because of this delay there seems to be a disconnect between my generation and the “classic professional”. If the industry wants to know how to reach me as a target market all you have to do is ask (preferably via sites like Facebook and Twitter). If social media still scares you then ask local college students to come to a conference like the ACORD conference or maybe even talk to DECA which is an organization that deals specifically with business oriented high school students. Reaching out will not only expand your company name but will get people in my situation to gain knowledge on the industry.
One other take away I got from this conference was the presentation Ian Ayres gave on data analytics. I do not agree with everything that he talked about like saying kids have lower test scores just based on the quality of the teacher. There are so many other factors to take into consideration. But, that is the beauty of data analysis it is used to give us the best guess at the outcome of a certain event. It combines math and economics to pin point emerging trends and plans of action. I feel that this way of thinking is going to become more prevalent. It is the closest thing we have to a crystal ball that can see into the future. I feel like it is something that I myself and every business student should seriously learn more about.
Overall, I had a fantastic time at the conference and while I did have a few people say to me that I would not like the boring insurance world, I actually found it engaging. I feel like I have just scratched the surface and would like to thank everyone I met for their generosity and their probing questions that left me wanting to know more.
Postscript: Amanda says she is interested in coming back to the ISF in spite of the disparaging remarks from other attendees about our “boring insurance world.” And “classic” is a term developed in an ACT working group for agents over a certain age. Ed.