By Connections Staff
"None of us have all the answers, which creates a necessity to learn from others in order to grow," says Applied Systems CEO Reid French, the man responsible for the overall business strategy and operational execution of Applied Systems. French's words echo the longstanding vision of Applied Client Network: "users helping users."
In an interview with Connections, French shared his insights on the future of Applied Systems, as well as his thoughts on the direction and value of Applied Client Network.
What are your goals in 2017 for Applied Systems?
Reid: Technology has re-imagined nearly all customer experiences, and at a pace never before seen in our world. All of us are experiencing a more connected life in a more connected world. And those connected experiences, whether shopping online or completing banking transactions via a mobile app, are impacting the expectations of insurance consumers across our industry.
To meet these expectations, Applied Systems is keenly focused on enabling our industry to deliver a connected experience between all participants in the insurance ecosystem. This means greater connectivity within an agency or brokerage, enabling agency personnel regardless of role, time or location, to have a complete view of the customer. It enables greater connectivity with insurer partners through enhanced carrier interface and more opportunities for real-time rating from within the agency management system. It also means greater connectivity with the insured, delivering online transactions, such as bill pay, review of policies via a client-portal and easy access to certificates of insurance 24/7. When the business of insurance is digitally connected, we all benefit from superior experiences across the entire insurance lifecycle.
What would you like to see from Applied Client Network in 2017 and beyond?
Reid: The Applied Client Network is a great resource for independent agents and brokers, assisting our industry in adapting to the changing digital landscape in terms of both customer expectations and technology adoption. The Applied Client Network delivers outstanding peer-to-peer learning. Sharing best practices and encouraging technology adoption allows our industry to become more connected. Also, by creating an environment in which our customers can provide direct feedback to Applied on our product portfolio, it ensures our future product decisions are influenced by those users who know our software best.
How do Applied Systems users/customers benefit from membership with Applied Client Network?
Reid: The Applied Client Network is the best way to gain access to industry peers and exclusive learning opportunities regarding Applied software. Customers have like-minded agents and brokers “in their corner” to discuss how technology can solve business problems, improve efficiency and create new opportunities to ensure maximum return on their technology investment. Finally, gaining insight from your peers and working together creates a sense of community that supports collective business growth across the insurance industry.
What was one key takeaway from this year’s Applied Client Network’s Leadership Academy?
Reid: It was clear at this year’s Leadership Academy that the new management team of the Applied Client Network is here to take the organization to the next level. Our customers always want more opportunities to learn and grow, and the new team led by Brian [Langerman] is committed to more learning sessions, more advocacy and more training options, positioning the organization to thrive.
What do you like about Applied Client Network events that you’ve attended in the past? What’s your biggest takeaway about member involvement?
Reid: Users helping users has always been the core value proposition of the Applied Client Network. The events are opportunities for Applied users to come together for the sole purpose of using technology to grow their businesses. It’s a great thing to see that the organization is made up of so many passionate users of Applied technology that are willing to support their peers.
Why do you think it’s important for members to connect and look beyond their own agency/brokerage?
Reid: Agencies join the Applied Client Network to learn from their peers. None of us have all the answers, which creates a necessity to learn from others in order to grow. Benchmarking with peers enables agencies to take their organizations to the next level by solving problems that others have already overcome. Additionally, each agency experiences new challenges and witnesses new types of risks and trends. Having the opportunity to connect with peers across the country and beyond provides unique insights on trends not available elsewhere.
What opportunities do you believe exist to extend the impact of Applied Client Network across all your operational regions?
Reid: Applied is a growing operation. As our industry consolidates and our customers enter new international markets, they are asking us to join them on the journey. Over the last five years, we have entered both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. We are a strong believer that learning about markets outside the U.S. brings value to our overall product vision. By having customers in more markets than just one, we simply build better software — we take the best ideas from around the world and build them for use by all of our customers.
Additionally, by operating in multiple regions across the globe, we are in a unique position to provide around-the-clock support. We are introducing 24/7 support just a little bit later this year, which is a first for our industry from an agency management system provider. As we grow into a multi-national organization, we look forward to having the Applied Client Network join us on our journey.
Reid French, Chief Executive Officer, leads Team Applied. He is responsible for the company's overall business strategy and operational execution. He also plays a prominent role in developing and fostering relationships throughout the Applied community. French came to Applied in 2011, after serving as chief operating officer at Intergraph Corporation, a global company at the forefront of geospatial and computer-aided design software. Before Intergraph, French was chief operating officer in North America for Solution 6 Group Ltd., Australia's largest software company.
Early in his career, he was a strategic planner for the Walt Disney Company, and he managed investment banking transactions in the technology sector for Robinson Humphrey. French holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from Davidson College and a master's in Business Administration from the Harvard Business School. He sits on the board of directors for Applied, Paradigm and The Lovett School in Atlanta.
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