No one fights an opponent with a rusty sword. They keep their equipment up to date and ready, and so it should be with brokers.

Consider the sort of equipment you use, keep up to speed with technological advances, and ensure your IT systems are compatible with those used by insurers.

Although investment costs can be high, a number of brokers said they would be paperless within three to five years, and some are already up to 80% paperless.

The broker's friend
IT is vital. It increases the efficiency of administrative processes, and this means staff can become extra productive and spend time on client servicing activities.

It provides an efficient management information system, and is playing an increasingly important role in marketing.

E-mail and the internet are also increasingly important and useful client management tools.

Using IT
IT can be used in a number of different ways:
- Client and policy administration
- Links with insurers/quotation systems
- E-mail
- Internet

Some brokers are also experimenting with:
- Hot Desking
- Scanning
- Client segmentation
- Borrowing insurers' equipment
- Digital Cameras
- Speech activated word processing

How to develop IT
- Carefully plan how and where your business will be using IT. Review this as part of the business planning process. Make sure it's consistent with overall strategy.
- Use consultants and suppliers who are familiar with brokers and their needs.
- Make sure staff understand and are totally committed to the IT policy.
- Have company standards for IT use.
- Provide the right IT training to the right people. This ensures maximum return on investment.
- Think carefully before developing any internal software. Externally provided packages will be supported and maintained, and the upgrade path cheaper.
- Test any new IT in a part of the business before committing to company-wide use. This is especially important when particularly innovative IT is considered.
- Ensure the IT improves your client management and interaction. If it doesn't, think carefully before proceeding.
- Involve the insurance companies in the IT decisions and work with them as closely.
This article was taken from CGU's Business Intelligence Report, The Cutting Edge – Part Two. Copies available from your local CGU branch.