Around The States In 30+ Days – A Journey of Learning: Part 1

Nikki Dugan

Okay, disclaimer… it wasn’t all the states, but it certainly was over 30 days, and if you are logging in for travel tips, that’s one blog over, two pages down. Truth is, I had almost forgotten what whirlwind travel was like and how much I’ve missed it, but the learning never slowed down, only now it’s back to in-person as well.

Having just completed a marathon leg in conference travel, it feels good to be back in the Garden State, able to unwind, decompress and digest all the remarkable opportunities, incredible experiences, and thought-provoking lessons gained in the past few weeks. In fact, while the idea of this blog post was already brewing in my head on my return flight from Nashville, I had to table it, and then add it to my ever-growing “pitter-patter let’s get atter” list of ideas, innovations and inventions (once I master Python, I plan to program my own creative concepts – you’ve been warned).

The reason I needed to table this for that, however is because one of the items (which is now sufficiently crossed off) I needed to do was to document as many of the informative sessions, inspirational insights and terrific take-aways from my time at two Life Insurance Conferences (LIMRA & AHOU), one Executive Council, and the most recent IASA, where I was re-acquainted (and in some cases newly acquainted) to having face-to-face interactions with friends, colleagues, customers, partners and other insurance industry personnel that I may have only recognized from a Zoom screen.

For someone who thrives on direct insights, it also provided me with the ability to refresh and re-align my marketing prowess and powers. Much like our core technology platforms, I find myself fueled by the latest data-related technology developments, gaining insights into the current challenges faced by carriers. Each event I attended increased my acumen on digital technologies, life & annuities solutions, and the massive trends that continue to impact this new dimension of insurance, and I walked away with almost 3 notebooks full of incredible information, actionable ideas, strategies, stories, and takeaways. Those who know me, know I am both a notorious note-taker and stress baker, so instead of spending this weekend preparing 4 banana breads, 1 caramel apple crumb cake, and 1 blueberry lemon loaf, I thought I would instead put notes to (digital) paper and share some of the keen insights gleaned over the course of the past few weeks. As opposed to ‘spilling the tea’ it’s more like ‘pouring what’s key’.

LIMRA – Hearing insights on the “Great Reset” including their keynote, Peter Leyden, who addressed the ‘Inexorable Technologies & Trends to Come’. He reinforced not only that the seismic insurance transformations we are experiencing are paving the way for many system changes, but they will continue to lay the foundation for dozens of new technologies and global trends. This was a great segue into sessions that addressed accelerated underwriting and the digital strategies and solutions that life insurance carriers continue to adopt to meet changing customer needs, consumer demands, and ultimately, even the way policies are priced, packaged and distributed.

Of course, LIMRA provided much more than just sessions involving life insurance underwriting, modeling, mortality rates, or the integration of insurance and technology concepts. Key topics also addressed the changing workforce, from talent shortages to leaning into leadership, to the innovative shift in company culture, and identifying diverse talent pools, hybrid workplace & workforce opportunities, and key lessons in developing and maintaining successful and consistent, high performing teams.

Being new to the LIFE side of insurance, this conference was an integral part of my continued education into the relevant facets, from application, enrollment, illustration to distribution. Not only did Tampa provide education, but also the ability for me to meet and network with some of our industry partners, like Formotiv and Cincom. After all, a cloud native configurable core suite can only be made stronger with integrations into solutions that deliver behavioral data science to optimize accelerated underwriting or streamlined business communications. It was exactly strong partnerships that had me hopping on a plane to Denver directly after to get my learning on to attend AHOU.

AHOUUnderstanding underwriting technology is a given at a conference, especially one where the keyword is included in the organization’s name (Association of Home Office Underwriters). While this was not our first time as a sponsor or exhibitor it was my first time as an attendee. I was excited to gauge it as a marketer, sponsor and, most importantly, passionate learner. It also reminded me of the many reasons Sapiens selectively sponsors industry events — to help ensure that vendors and carriers have shared opportunities to stay updated and aligned on the key areas affecting the insurance market. Whether, P&C or Life and Annuities, underwriting is a key unifier across all insurance lines, so it was impressive to attend a conference of this size and caliber, dedicated to one of the most critical facets of a policy lifecycle and an area ripe for transformative digital and data solutions.

Offering five specialized tracks on Core, innovation, industry insights, risk management/fraud/financial and career development, and the option to mix and match, the AHOU Conference in Denver delivered across the board on education, entertainment and environment (the clear mountain air was definitely welcome after 2 years of Jersey backyard). Talk about ‘Aspiring Beyond All Limits,’ not only was the scenic views inspiration, but so were so many of the sessions, especially “Tech Humanist” Kate O’Neill, whose presentation on ‘How Data and Technology Shape the Future of Meaningful Human Experiences’ educated us all on the value of experiences, be it user, customer, or simply life and how technology is helping fuel more meaningful, integrated experiences, providing intelligence and data.

I was not surprised to see several sessions on one of the central trends that was at the top of my mind at the conference: DATA. From the emergence of new sources, and data streams, to actuarial and underwriting value, to the tools and technology designed to collect, analyze, assess and infer — and even the regulations surround the use, ethical nature of possessing, and future laws governing all things data, each session uncovered a challenge or complexity that carriers have, or are yet to face. For me, the #insurtech nerd who loves learning about all things digital, data, and design, many of these sessions reinforced my knowledge, while others enabled me to reimagine new ways to modernize, market and meet the demands of this new data-driven era. I mean, love him or hate him, Bezos said it best when he stated, “what’s dangerous is not to evolve,” and to me, learning how to leverage data, intuitively, innovatively, and increasingly is key to the evolution required in this new insurance dimension.

My next blog will cover some of the inner workings here at Sapiens. I’ll share some new lessons learned at our own Customer Summit, where we gathered an intimate group of our customer executives to meet with some of the new leaders and reunite with the old, sharing our roadmap into the new dimension of insurance, the continued investments in relationships, technology  and partnerships, and how we are planning to improve the Sapiens brand, especially in the North American market. Because as Steven Forbes said, “Your brand is the single most important investment you can make in your business.”

Check out part 2 here.

  • digital
  • life and annuities
  • life underwriting
Nikki Dugan

Nikki Dugan Nikki has had many monikers over the tenure of her career: Marketing Maven, Dedicated Brand-bassador, Catalyst for Culture and Champion for Change. She considers herself an eclectic mix of all; part Insurtech aficionado, part creative mind, part strategist, and part dreamer. When not focused on the latest challenges and technology solutions, she spends her time in her NJ home, experimenting in the kitchen and doting on her granddaughter.