Does it pay to peek over the neighbor's fence? It does if you discover a better way to mow the lawn. In the spirit of sharing best practices for the benefit of everyone involved, Insurance Networking News announces the first annual INNovators of the Year award.The idea for the award emerged during informal talks at INN. After witnessing an almost daily flow of innovation in the insurance business, the editors began searching for a way to objectively uncover and recognize the top innovators and share a deeper understanding of their innovations.

Then, they hit upon the solution. What better way to share the lessons of innovation than by sifting through a year's worth of projects to find the most notable? And who better to initiate the process than INN readers? That's why we're asking you to help choose candidates for the honor.

Now's the time to submit your nominee. Visit www.insurancenetworkingnews.com to voice your opinion on what member or members of the insurance industry did to most advance the cause of technology in a project that culminated any time in 2006. Entries must be posted on the site by March 1, 2007.

Nominees should work for insurance carriers, agencies or brokerages. Put forth the name of an individual, a team, a department or an entire company-whatever entity you feel deserves the top honor for innovation.

Anyone with a specialized knowledge of information technology—as it applies to insurance—is welcome to nominate a potential INNovator of the Year. Those eligible to name a potential winner could work for insurance companies, industry suppliers, research firms or consulting companies.

A panel of distinguished insurance industry experts, including industry analysts, consultants and members of the INN Board of Advisers, will choose the winner from the nominees chosen by INN readers.

The winner will have led or contributed to a project anywhere in the insurance industry supply chain that uses technology to meet many, but not necessarily all, of the criteria below.

POSSIBLE CRITERIA

1. Unprecedented use of technology.

2. New uses for established technology.

3. Demonstrable return on investment.

4. Cost savings.

5. Brand enhancement.

6. Improved efficiency.

7. Better accuracy.

8. Increased production.

9. More complete reporting.

10. Improved regulatory compliance.

11. Enhanced agent retention.

12. Better customer service.

13. Furtherance of corporate objectives.

14. Acceptance from other parts of the company.

15. Good relations with vendors.

16. Good relations with consultants.

MORE TIPS FOR NOMINATORS

For nominees to qualify, their innovative projects should be operating long enough to establish tangible or perceived results.

Nominators should describe the innovations that make for a potential winner and explain how the innovations were accomplished.

If possible, make the business case for the innovation.

Explain the goals the nominee or nominees set out to achieve and explain whether those objectives were met.

Describe problems the nominee or nominees attempted to solve. Did they succeed?

How did the nominee or nominees choose vendors or consultants to become partners in the project?

Did the nominees or nominees mix emerging and mainstream technology in their project? How did they decide what hardware and software to use?

What glitches arose during the project? How did the nominee or nominees meet those challenges?

Did the project remain within budget? Was it finished on schedule?

What did the potential winner or winners do to bring executives and managers from other parts of the enterprise into the decision-making, implementation and evaluation of the project?

Name the vendors, consultants and other third-party entities that contributed to the success of the project.

Submit documents that establish the importance of the innovation.

Include anecdotes that reveal important characteristics of the nominee or nominees.

Please include contact information for the nominee or nominees, as well as your own contact information.

If you nominate a team, department or company-rather than an individual-list key players.

To help the judges evaluate entries, please submit any available documents that bear on the project.

Winners will be announced in the June 2007 issue of Insurance Networking News and recognized at the IASA Annual Educational Conference & Business Show, June 3-6, 2007, in Minneapolis.

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