When I first started with Tech Decisions magazine, a decision was made that—for the most part—the focus of our articles would be on what insurance carriers had to say about subjects in the industry, along with a few consultant and analyst types.
Insurance software vendors were rendered to providing us access to a few of their customers and that’s about it. This month, though, we are giving some industry vendors an opportunity to communicate their thoughts on various topics.
The idea for this came to me last June at the CIO/CTO Roundtable at the IASA conference in Dallas. My friend George Grieve was moderating a session that featured several vendors expressing their views on the industry.
I decided to incorporate that into the Tech Decisions editorial calendar and now that we are part of PropertyCasualty360.com the idea has expanded into a series of posts this week that will allow vendors to speak out on the topics that affect them and their relationships with insurance carriers.
I think one of our problems over the years—and one that insurance carriers had as well—has been that we looked at vendors as wanting something from us rather than as contributors to the process. Insurers have also been guilty of looking at solution partners as simply vendors rather than what they really are: partners.
One of the questions we posed to several software companies who asked to take part in this week’s Web-exclusive series and in the magazine article that will be printed in the April issue was how did they view the relationship with carriers.
To give you a sample, Joseph Pilkerton, founder and COO of FirstBest Systems, writes: “We strive to go beyond being a mere vendor to be a trusted advisor.”
I’m sure we’ve all heard independent insurance agents use those words in describing their relationship with policyholders, so I found it fascinating to consider the relationship between vendors and carriers has many of the same characteristics—particularly if it is working correctly.
Mark Cummings, principal consultant with FIS North America, writes: “Then there are those carriers who (unfortunately) view a partnership as requiring a winner and a loser or a way to extract great discounts. These carriers will often make decisions without having offered the solution provider insight into the organization, goals, limitations, and priorities. When the solution provider lacks the benefit of the big picture, and when carrier communication is lacking, everyone is at a disadvantage. In this situation, projects tend to be more reactive and rarely result in success.”
Fortunately, this appears to be a problem that is getting solved. Times are too delicate to even consider the possibility of a project failure. Pointing fingers at the vendor won’t earn you any bonus points with the executive committee or the board.
Finally, Wendy Corman, president, North America, for edge IPK, offers some advice for other vendors: “All vendors should act as if they had a stake in the carrier’s decision; educating and providing examples during the evaluation process. A good vendor is one that can assist with information to help the buyer determine the best fit.”
These are all good pieces of advice that some of us have been ignoring for too long.