Designed for Success: The Must-Have Attributes of Producer Tools

by Craig Weber, June 26, 2006


Boston, MA, USA June 26, 2006

Insurance carriers have to support numerous tools to effectively meet producers' varied needs.

Carriers face a monumental task in building tools to support producers. "The problem is that producers are all over the map," says senior analyst Craig Weber, author of the latest Celent report, . "They agree that they want easy access to data, efficiency, and strong communication from their carriers," Weber says. "But preferences about the tools used to deliver those attributes vary widely."

Weber notes that proprietary approaches, multi-carrier approaches, and old-fashioned methods such as telephone and fax each have their proponents. "A given producer might prefer to use different tools on different days for the exact same function," Weber adds. "So carriers have to support as wide a variety of tools as possible, given cost constraints."

The report is based on an online survey administered to independent producers in February 2006. Major findings detailed in the report include the following:

Access to information is a key theme. Producers want 24/7, "always on" systems so they can work when they want to. They also want the ubiquity of Web-enabled systems, accessible without proprietary hardware and software.

Communication tools that fit daily work patterns are critical. One size does not fit all in terms of supporting technology. Producers work in a variety of ways, so carriers need to support a variety of tools. Most striking is the appeal of email as a communication tool, although telephone and fax are also in play. Producers appear to be asking for carrier tools that fit their everyday habits, and for many producers those habits include getting and responding to email, rather than seeking systems that contain the information they need.

Efficiency is a major concern, but not the only one. Producers in this study confirm a theme commonly heard in the industry溶amely, that re-keying data is one of their pet peeves. However, their use of and preference for many different types of tools suggests that producers understand the trade-off between the richness of functionality found in proprietary, single-carrier tools and the transaction ease of multi-carrier tools. Carriers should understand that both approaches have their uses, and producers do not view this as an either/or decision.

A table of contents for the report is available online.


Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

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Table of Contents

Boston, MA, USA June 26, 2006

Executive Summary 3
Introduction 4
  Methodology 4
  Limitations 4
About The Respondents 6
  Experience Levels 7
  Premium Production 9
  Product Focus 10
How Producers Work 11
  Key Findings 11
  Tool Usage 11
  Other Producer Behaviors 14
Designing Tools For Producers 18
  Key Findings 18
  What Matters Most 19
  Aiming High 21
  Aiming for the Future? 22
  Specific Technology Initiatives 23
  Lessons From Producer Favorites 25
Concluding Thoughts 27
Appendix A: Selected Respondent Comments 28
Appendix B: The Survey 31
Objectivity & Methodology 35

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