Are you a F.O.E. (Friend of Eddie)? Lots of agents are, but now there's a plan to help you get to know him a lot better--and to introduce him to new friends. In fact, he's giving a party.
Set for Wednesday, Feb. 29--Leap Day--the first all-industry Real Time Day will provide agents/brokers, user groups, insurance carriers and service providers with opportunities to explore how real time and download tools can boost profitability.
For the uninitiated, Eddie is the cute little clock mascot--spokesclock, if you will--for the Real Time/Download Campaign, the industry advocate for implementation of the real time and download interface applications for independent agencies and carriers. If you've been in the industry awhile, you're probably very familiar with him, and with the real time and download tools he represents.
Long before Eddie and real time came along, agency workflow was a hodgepodge of dedicated carrier legacy systems, making processing slow and complicated. Real Time, the result of collaboration between agents, carriers and vendors, allows agents to use the most current version of their own agency management systems to conduct one-step transactions like quotes, billing inquiries, endorsements or information requests.
Recent surveys have shown that 63 percent of agency management system users employ real-time rating to access multiple carriers at once, a 10 percent increase over a similar survey conducted last year. The Real Time campaign says users save an average of an hour a day by eliminating multiple data entry, password management and other redundancies.
But real time is only as good as the number of players involved--and the more, the merrier. That's the main reason for the Leap Day event, said Rick Morgan of Aartrijk, which is helping to coordinate the event.
"We wanted to create a national exposure for real time and get the whole industry behind it: carriers, vendors, associations and user groups, all focused on one day’s worth of activities, promotion and communication, to create an amazing awareness for real time," Rick said.
Rick explained that the "virtual" event will center on two phases:
- Webinars, live feeds, demonstrations, interviews and discussions with real time and download users and other experts, and presentations by carriers and vendors on using real time tools
- A live stream from the state-of-the-art ACORD studios with "anchors" from Aartrijk, carrier spokespeople and others, featuring panel discussions, interviews and more.
Agents and others can participate in the event through Internet streaming, Twitter conversations and a dedicated URL where they can log on and join in the conversation, Rick said.
And because the real time campaign hopes agents will share their problems and success stories, they're soliciting input for Real Time Day activities, which will appear at bit.ly/RealTimeDay (send your ideas to RealTime@Aartrijk.com).
The event grew out of the need to "get Real Time to the next level" by reaching more agencies, Rick said. "Groups like ACT and AUGIE are preaching to the choir; it's a struggle to reach those agents out there who are not members, even of their Big I association. But they all have carriers, so if the carriers promote the event, we could reach more agency principals who will see that this isn’t just about technology: it’s a workflow, something that makes people more productive and allows them to better service their client base.”
The event is also designed to educate carriers and vendors on the need to add more functionality, uniformity and process to keep Real Time moving and advancing, he said.
And while some recent studies have indicated that agents prefer carrier portals for placing personal lines business, Real Time can sometimes actually help with that by managing passwords and log-ins and taking agents to the portals through real time functionality, Rick said. "Portals provide a different level of sophistication not available through straight, real time transactions. Speaking as an agent, portals are still multiple workflows--confusing and not as efficient. In a perfect world, agents should be able to sit at the agency management system, push a button and get whatever they need to do. The technology today really exists, but there's still the matter of agents who don’t use real time and some inconsistencies between carriers and multiple workflows. But real time has real advantages, and that’s the message we want to deliver.”