During the last year, insurance industry technology and software leader Vertafore has made some exciting new announcements. Most recently, this included the release of its ReferenceConnect product with mobility, an enhancement that provides insurance professionals with greater access to an online insurance research service with hand-held browser-based devices. It also includes plans to integrate the Oracle Business Intelligence suite for enhanced reporting across Vertafore's product portfolio, with the AMS360 product as the first solution to begin delivering significant new capabilities. Other announcements included WorkSmart Online, a hosted version of Vertafore's agency process improvement solution, WorkSmart; and AMS360 version 6.5, which provides agencies with client and policy information right in the agents' hands via their mobile device.
Vertafore has been making huge strides in continuing to deliver powerful solutions that solve real business challenges for its customers. We spoke with Mark Craig, SVP, Product Management, at Vertafore to share more with us about the company's solutions and how it's transforming the business of insurance. Vertafore today has 20,000-plus agencies, MGAs, and carriers using its products; 98 of the top 100 brokers use Vertafore; and the company in the last year has added 8,767 new management system users.
Mark joined Vertafore in May of 2011 as vice president of agency management systems product management, and in February of 2012 he was appointed senior vice president of product management. Prior to Vertafore, Mark spent thirteen years at Oracle in various consulting, strategic product management, and development leadership roles, where he was honored as ‘Oracle Innovator' in 2009. He worked on such products as Oracle E-business Suite, Fusion Middleware, and its next generation applications. Mark is a recognized innovator with expertise in Software-as-a-Service and On-Premise software driven business processes.
Annie George (AG): We're seeing a lot of exciting enhancements and developments from Vertafore. Tell us about them.
Mark Craig (MC): "In April, we had our NetVU Users Conference, where we announced some of our new enhancements, and continued our dialogue with customers as to what they need. We received tremendous feedback on what we're doing to help improve their productivity and drive top and bottom-line results. This involves offering mobility, collaboration, and insight.
"We're looking at what people in our industry are expecting and trying to deliver and exceed on their expectations. With mobility, our goal is to empower people outside the office. We looked at what makes a producer successful and saw that they spend 60% of their time away from the office. To facilitate their productivity while on the road, our goal is to provide producers with the ability to access information to help them communicate with clients and prospects and write more business. To this end, we're putting information at their fingertips through their browser-based mobile devices. For example, AMS360 version 6.5 allows producers to access policy information whether they're in the office, on the road, or onsite with clients. Our Pipeline Manager mobile solution offers producers the ability to add or update prospect information from an iPad or smartphone. Producers and agents now have a greater ability to track all potential opportunities, ensuring that no lead is neglected - helping agencies sell more, manage less and forecast accurately.
"Our mobile version of Reference Connect enables producers, agents, and field underwriters to access our online library of resources anytime and anywhere."
AG: What does collaboration involve and what benefits are your customers seeing in the way they do business?
MC: "We're working on products to help streamline the collaboration between the agency and the carrier and between the agency and policyholder and/or prospect. A key part of this is our WorkSmart product, which is all about internal collaboration within an agency and improving the efficiency of their business processes. WorkSmart enables an agency to view how the work is flowing throughout the organization and respond accordingly to ensure that tasks get assigned and executed. Now we have WorkSmart Engage, which takes this to another level in which the agency is collaborating with carriers and policyholders. With WorkSmart Engage, you're able to load information into a cloud-based platform to deliver information as quickly as possible to the carrier and/or insured or prospect. You're more responsive and efficient, improving your relationships with customers and your carrier partners. What's more, you can track what is going on and store email correspondence so that you may view what is actually happening and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
"You also have WorkSmart Online where we can host WorkSmart at our data center, giving you the ability to get up and running more quickly. You can offload the administration and operations to a trusted partner like Vertafore.
"Collaboration is all about enhancing cycle time and efficiencies, improving accuracy, and reducing E&O exposure."
AG: You also talk about "Insight" as part of the business of insurance transformation. What is Vertafore doing in this area?
MC: "We're helping agencies know their business better so that they can act accordingly. This revolves around our business processing reporting with WorkSmart. You're able to get the information you need and then make a decision and act upon it to run your business better. This includes information such as gaining insight into production and financials, quickly seeing revenue trends and carrier performance, and acquiring visibility into any growing bottlenecks.
What's more, by year-end we will be releasing advanced reporting ability, which we'll initially deliver with AMS 360 Online and later make it available across our other products as well. Basically, customers will have the ability to tailor reports to include information relevant to them without having to rely on IT staff. This will be supported by mobile devices, including iPads and iPhones. We are making it very easy for agencies to get the reporting that they need without having to involve other parties. It's fast, tailored, and informative.
"With everything we're doing, you're seeing an underlying trend here: People want speed and mobility so it makes sense for them to leverage a cloud-based environment and access the information they need on-line. We're making sure that our environment is secure, making the investments needed. We're also continuing the conversation with our clients to provide them with the capabilities they're looking for to make the business of insurance easier and more profitable today and into the future.
"We're investing a lot in our products to deliver mobility, collaboration, and insight...capabilities that are resonating with our customers."