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27 April 2015Tom Scales
Those that know me well know that I am a generally upbeat guy, but can also be piercing in my analysis of technology. This is something that the vendors with which we work expect -- absolute honesty in reviewing their systems and technology. They don't always like my position, but they'll hear it. Our insurer clients expect the same, as they are often betting their company on vendor technology. So let's just say I rarely gush over a system. I can usually find a pretty major flaw at least in the presentation of the system. Today I had the opportunity to see a system that was new to me. This is a part of a research report that our team is writing and we are seeing a number of demonstrations. They're short -- just an hour -- and scripted to cover some pretty focused areas. Some of the vendors have nice technology, but really struggled with the hour limitation. Other vendors manage quite nicely within the hour, but don't excite me with what they showed. A demonstration I saw today managed to do both -- they managed the demonstration into the time flawlessly and, more importantly, I was just blown away by the system. There are some fundamentals that we review. Among these are: Configuration This is the heart of any system. Many systems are very configurable, but most of them that I have seen are so clunky, or confusing, that configuring them is a chore. They may be advertised as configurable by the end-user, but not any end-user I have ever met. The system today was incredibly flexible, but they configuration was done in such a way that it expressed the business need to the user in their own terms. There was a lot to configure, but everything was easily reuseable. Even better, it handled the complex chores like multi-language and multi-currency simply, even in the same transaction. Contact/Customer management Many systems try to aggregate people, but this system treated every relationship as a powerful contact. Providers, agents, insureds and companies are managed in a powerful CRM and the information maintained seamlessly changed depending on the relationship. User experience So many systems we view look like they screens were designed by a programmer and, worse, could only be used by a programmer. I saw a system recently that was powerfully configurable, but almost indecipherable to use. This system has an easily understandable UI, complete with integrated workflow and management of attachments to any contact. Better yet, it is all HTML5 and seamlessly adapts to mobile devices, particularly tablets. Reporting Have you ever dreamed of a system where the end-user could easily pull information out of the system? This is that system. The query tool was simple, but powerful and the entire user experience revolved around personalized dashboards. I can't comment on whether it can scale with this power, but it was very impressive. I'll leave it there, as I could go on, but my colleague and I were both very impressed. The one area for improvement is the cloud -- the current release does not run in a major public cloud, but they indicated this is on their roadmap. I'll finish with one observation -- I'd buy this system for my company. I don't have a stronger compliment. If you're reading this, and you're with a vendor, and I didn't see your demo today, well, you have a fierce competitor.