If you have heard me speak recently, I have a go-to observation. You see, I've been in this industry a long, long time. I've seen it evolve at a glacial pace, with the phrase that's the way we have always done it thrown around frequently. My observation, however, is that the last few years have finally gotten really interesting. There is a lot going on, and I believe that the trends of the last year, or two, and in some cases three, will continue, potentially at an increased pace.
Just prior to the beginning of this year, I published a report called Life Insurance Trends 2020 and I'll leverage some observations from the report. If you want the depth, I suggest the report as a good source. It is a fun time of year, because we are working on the 2020 Life Insurance CIO Pressures and Priorities report, which always gives us wonderful insight into the actual happenings out there in the industry. There is still time to participate, so if you're knowledgeable in the focus and spending of IT in your company, feel free to click THIS LINK to take the survey. You can also pass the link to others in your company. Please do. Our research depends on people like you sharing. You can even reach out to me and I'll ask the questions over the phone.
My approach to trends is always to look at the value chain of Life and Annuity business. You start in the field, with the acquisition of the app. The next step is underwriting, then issuance, then service, surrounded by functions like agent support, billing, and claims. Clearly it is more complicated than that, but you get the idea. The value chain is similar across lines of business, including individual versus Group/Voluntary. The customer may change from a consumer to a business, but conceptually the concepts are true.
So let's talk about trends.
At the front of the process, insurers continue to spend heavily on acquiring customers. That should come as no surprise. It is consistently the highest IT investment area and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues. The conversion to electronic app is moving slow, but moving. Portals for enrollment are a major focus as are improved tools for quoting across the product spectrum. This is an area of continued improvement and some innovation, such as gamification, but continue may be the operative word for 2020. Continued focus, continued investment, continued recognition that to stay meaningful, the experience must improve. One nice uptick is investment in agent support, from on-boarding, to commissions, to other areas to attract and service agents.