Regulation is coming, insurers are reducing agencies and commissions and direct writers are again pushing motor rates downwards, but brokers are ready for the challenges the new year brings. And our Windows-based software that allow us to trade with the whole market, store all our data locally and then submit proposals electronically to insurers will keep us well and truly in the game.

Except for one thing. This simple software package is not available. The one thing guaranteed to keep brokers alive and therefore essential to them (we call this demand), is not available (we'll call this no supply). Why?

Surely in a free market any enterprising software firm that delivered this product would clean up (we'll call this profit). In our software market however we have a slagheap of failed software companies who just did not listen to their market, the brokers. They tried and some are still trying; to tell us what we really want.

Only in England could a business plan float on the premise that you will not sell what the market wants, but will try instead to deliver a product that we do not need and in many cases does not even work.

I have news for software companies. In case they didn't know, as they were so busy developing the next big thing, the technology bubble burst over a year ago. It burst because consumers realised that they did not care how cutting edge a product was, if it wasn't what they wanted, they did not have to buy it. Businesses built on promises that don't deliver will always fail. These mistakes are still being made. Goodbye NMT, and following it soon, Brokersoft?

Earlier in 2002 Brokersoft informed the world that it could no longer proceed as a viable business without EDI capability on its system and was therefore throwing the towel in. We, like all other Brokersoft users and potential thousands of other Brokersoft users, were distraught.

Then to the market's delight Cox Insurance stepped in with a rescue package. Brokersoft's own staff had said that they could have EDI live within three months. Where is it? Surely Cox cannot be putting off EDI on Brokersoft and trying to force brokers to use their Brokersure product? Surely our unnamed source at a prominent EDI insurer must have been wrong when he told us that Brokersoft had said it was no longer interested in EDI development.

We have written to Cox Holdings and Brokersoft and, to date, have received no reply. When will a software house deliver a complete Windows system that works?

David Watson
Universal Insurance Group