The announcement of Applied Systems purchase of Compu-Quote (CQ) has started some interesting discussions. We’d like to offer some of our thoughts on implications, and are very interested in hearing yours Take a short (5 minute) survey, and add any additional comments below. We’ll review results in this space after the survey closes.
The following are a few of our first thoughts:
Comparative Rating – CQ has been the market leader for comparative rating in Canada for a quarter of a century. From the outset, a main CQ selling feature was the ability to exchange data with all the major broker management systems. CQ used to refer to itself as the Switzerland of broker automation.
Integration has been a key element in all the releases from Applied Systems. In an interview with CI Top Broker, Applied Systems’ CEO Reid French said current Applied Systems brokers who use CQ will “see better integration between Compu-Quote and the broker management system than they have in the past. We’re excited to make that tighter, better and more robust so they don’t feel like they’re using two separate applications and sharing data between two separate applications.”
But what does that mean for brokers using other management systems? Applied users likely make up a majority of CQ users, but there is a significant minority that the CQ division likely doesn’t want to lose. Will there be special accommodations, different pricing, etc.? Will this be an opportunity for other BMS vendors to create alternatives either individually or collectively?
Broker Quoting Portals – CQ has had some success embedding its Fortus rating engine into a number of off the shelf and customized products. Several of these are used by brokers (and broker associations) in consumer facing web portals. The engine comes with client prospect tracking tools and intelligent routing capabilities.
Applied Systems has a web portal product that allows brokers to establish an insurance focused, customer self serve web presence, called Webengine. There is no rating engine, but a number of other capabilities including stock web pages, and insurance terms. We don’t know what, if any, penetration Applied Systems has had with this product in Canada.
There is a strong pull coming from brokers to have turn-key, customer-focused web and social media applications. Neither organization has demonstrated particular interest in moving to social media, however both are developing sophistication in deploying web solutions. There may be significant synergies between the two groups to exploit that could be extended as part of a broker management solution (Applied Systems model), or as a stand-alone application (CQ model). But can the cultures of the two companies come together enough to exploit this?
Broker Connectivity – While it has been the subject of some criticism in Canada in the past short while, Applied Systems has been a leader in broker connectivity since the late 1980s. It expends a significant amount of energy and time working with standards bodies including CSIO and ACORD to help develop data standards. In addition, it has continuously introduced products for brokers and carriers to facilitate implementation of these standards. Regardless of current status, Applied Systems has an unparallelled depth of knowledge of technical and business issues.
CQ is not well known for broker connectivity, but does have incredible depth of understanding in data and integration (from its BMS integration experience). In addition, CQ has done customized development with several insurers to implement specialized standards-based applications (e.g., Business Choice from Lombard).
We don’t see it likely that the acquisition will change Applied Systems’ approach to broker connectivity in Canada. However, it is adding some unique bench strength with the CQ data and development staff. This could raise the bar with other implementers.
Canadian Marketing Talent – Both organizations have strong marketing teams, but CQ has been known for some unique approaches. If the creativity of booths at broker conventions is any measure, the CQ folks get very high marks.
These are a few of our thoughts at the moment, but we really want to hear from you. Leave your comments below and take the Survey: Applied Systems acquires Compu-Quote.