The head of financial services at Capita Consulting is optimistic that the insurance industry is finally catching on to the benefits of technology

Q. What has been the biggest change in insurance IT over the past five years?

A. The embrace of the internet. Five years ago, insurance organisations were like islands. Insurance is always a little behind the curve in adopting technology, but I think as time goes by the lag between what it and the rest of the the world does gets smaller. I can remember sitting in meetings in the late 1980s talking about the dangers of email.

Q. What’s been the highlight of your career?

A. Many years ago, I got involved with setting up the Willis Commercial Network. We went from zero to £250m turnover in about 18 months. The technology was based on software I had conceived. I’d gone to insurers and persuaded them to help me to develop comparative quotations in the commercial lines market.

Q. What are the big problems behind technological initiatives in insurance?

A. One of the things I’ve identified isn’t really a technology problem, but it’s a massive problem for the success of technology initiatives – it’s getting clients, brokers and insurers to collaborate. Once it hits a critical mass, everybody wants to be part of it. I think the barriers and costs to getting involved in some of these initiatives have gone down. All of these things are lowering the barriers for entry.

Q. What opportunities for new technology?

A. There’s a lot happening, but it’s a bit like the Wild West. Everyone is having a go and there are few rules. A lot of technology probably won’t work, but the ones that do will be adopted by the rest.

Q. What will insurers and brokers of the future be like?

A. Insurers have to be careful not to be isolated into simple risk carriers as they become disintermediated from their clients by aggregators and brokers. It’s easy for them just to be the ultimate risk takers with no link for the client.

I think brokers will be spending far less time in front of screens, keying in data and doing administrative tasks. Brokers want to relegate the number-crunching and admin to technology and spend more time with clients, giving them the benefit of their knowledge and experience.

Technology will change the brokers’ world. It used to take two hours to get a quote for a motor policy. The key is for brokers to identify their value and make sure clients sees that and pay for it.