Editorial - February 2012
I recently came across a short article in Maclean’s magazine about a potential mini-revolution in the area of elevator technology. You may not think that there could exist much room for advancement in a device that has performed the same function since ancient times. But there has been discussion going on in the elevator world (in appropriately-named industry magazine Elevator World) since the mid ‘80s about the merits and implementation requirements of “destination-oriented dispatching.” By replacing the simple up/down call buttons at each floor with buttons for all the floors that you normally find inside the car, the nearest car can be dispatched more efficiently based on your ultimate destination and how far it has to go to pick you up. This could dramatically reduce elevator wait and travel times, especially in taller buildings with multiple elevator blocks.
I mention this obscure example because it illustrates a couple of the themes of this technology-focused issue of Canadian Insurance Top Broker. The first theme is that there is no end point where technological advancement is concerned, no matter what field you are talking about. Development will always creep along, usually in small increments, and even when you wish it would stop.
Similarly, the experts that participated in our roundtable discussion on the state of insurance industry technology and broker workflows make the point that for brokers to hang on to a competitive advantage, all stakeholders need to stay on top of changes, and collaborate on an ongoing basis. This was summed up nicely by Doug Johnston of Applied Systems.
“SEMCI [Single Entry Multiple Company Interface] gets beat up all the time, and you want to know something? SEMCI happened in the late ‘80s and it was very successful. The problem is the technology has changed and our needs have changed.”
Another theme of this issue is that developments and advancements in technology inevitably take us into the unknown. As Rob Sparling of forensic engineering firm Giffin Koerth illustrates through examples in his article, many technological advancement are mostly invisible to us, or just not thought about, until something goes spectacularly wrong. Whether it’s a downed production line or your laptop spontaneously combusting, lawsuits will inevitably fly like an episode of The Good Wife. For brokers to be successful today, they need to know where technology is going and how it can affect advice about coverage. Otherwise, they risk being left behind like last year’s model.
Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the February 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.