Welcome to the next generation of the insurance enterprise. Project your roadmap out by 20 years: policies are now underwritten by analytics; the insurance market is controlled by ones or zeros; underwriting selection, pricing and customer service are automated; and the need for the good neighborhood agent is gone. 

At this point in time, the adjusters who learned how to calculate business income losses and property damage on a clipboard, the underwriters who developed profitable careers within the confines of a paper file, and the operations managers who could raise productivity through leadership are all retired and sitting on the beach.

And yet, the income-generating opportunities continue to exist where the art of the profession is not lost.

I recently attended a conference on the power of business intelligence and analytics as competitive solutions for the insurance industry. I was surprised at the extensive bashing of the insurance professionals-our clients. Overall, the general sentiment of the speakers, as well as the audience, was negative. The clients were portrayed as stodgy dolts or even as the enemy. We plan for any "new" approach to be viewed as a threat and challenge by our clients. We anticipate change to be negatively received. We poke fun at their homegrown, macro-laden Excel solutions. We talk about internal marketing in terms of convincing, even compelling our clients, to use our products. We are convinced "ours" is a better way. Our unspoken dirty secret is that we hope our company will soon offer early retirement programs.

How did we come to this place? Why is today's generation of problem solvers so disconnected from the business and their clients? Is this an effective way to approach our future? Are we becoming corporate bullies, maintaining superiority through our "black box" knowledge?

We must remain cognizant that business intelligence and analytical solutions are tools, where the magic is realized through the user's expertise.

PREPARING THE NEXT GENERATION

Two years ago, I joined forces with product development and business experts to provide a new, client-facing analytics application. Our mission is to connect "people, technology, strategic planning and risk management to provide a 'Next Generation' solution." The development effort is ongoing. We continue to learn and grow to offer better solutions in a partnership for success.

We must challenge ourselves to capture and learn from legacy information. I challenge you to guide your staff to step into the future with a new attitude.

It's time to acknowledge the power of the gatekeepers and the legacy they protect, and to acknowledge that we need the skeptics. Once their expertise is gone, we no longer have that tuning fork to validate our solutions and challenge us to be better and build stronger.

Lastly, we encourage our staff to educate themselves in the purpose and history of the industry, and to speak positively of those that built it. It's time to leave the jokes at the door of offices, trade conferences and meetings, and listen to those who march to a tribal drum.

We need to capture the art, as well as the science, of our professionals before its too late. Someday those who built the industry will no longer be available to act as guideposts. They will be basking on the beach with a t-shirt that says, "That is so not my problem."

Suggestions for rebuilding the attitude of the technology vertical, and guide your staff to step into the future with a new attitude:

* Check your arrogance at the door and seek opportunities to meet the client's needs.

* Identify and publish your commitments to your client with core values.

* Enable your clients by seeking transparency in communications, goals and project progress.

* Leadership, expertise and professionalism, coupled with cultivated intuition and market savvy, are the cornerstones for the decades of success.

* Exceptions are the norm.

* Partnerships solve problems.

* Seek intuitive solutions; deliver value with shortened learning curves.

* Enhance your personal contributions to our organization's business ventures and leadership.

Vicki Enderby is VP product management at New York-based Willis Re Inc.

To find more about consequences of demographics, search "The Changing Face of the IT Workforce" at www.insurancenetworking.com.

(c) 2009 Insurance Networking News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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