Applied Systems: Your indispensable partner of choice
Applied Systems is the leading global provider of cloud-based software that powers the business of insurance and is the indispensable partner of choice for NFP.
“We've been a partner with NFP for more than 10 years - our companies have grown together throughout the US and Canada, said Trevor Bunker, Chief Customer Officer at Applied.
“We provide that digital ecosystem or digital platform, by which they run their business and help support their customers. Our goal at Applied is to really be that essential partner to customers like NFP, who look out for their customers to help them protect what matters most,” said Bunker.
“Our internal mantra is to be an indispensable partner - to be that partner of choice. We strive to be that partner you want to bring into the room every day - we focus on being the easiest company to do business with,” he said.
For more than 35 years, Applied has led an industry which they helped to create with a mission to continuously improve the business of insurance. Since 1983, the company has been at the forefront of insurance technology, leading the way through innovation.
Applied is the world’s largest provider of agency and brokerage management systems serving customers throughout the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, and the UK. By automating the insurance lifecycle, Applied’s people and products enable millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most.
Applied Systems - quick facts:
- Founded in 1983
- Headquarters: University Park, Illinois (US), with regional headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada), Brighton, East Sussex (UK) and Belfast, Northern Ireland (Ireland)
- More than 2,300 employees
- 99 per cent of IIABA Best Practices Agencies use Applied System technology
Commenting on industry trends, Bunker said today’s customer expectations are driven by big tech – shaped by their experiences interacting with companies such as Google, Uber and social media platforms.
“We are helping our customers continue to stay ahead of those innovation curves,” he said. “And an output of all these digital interactions is data – our customers and the industry are becoming even more obsessed with data. Clients want to be able to mine data to gain deeper insights into their business and make more informed, intelligent decisions.
“NFP and others around the world are constantly looking to expand their data repository – looking at their own data, integrating third-party data – all while keeping data security front and center.
“How they show up in a digital storefront can elevate their brand, increase their pipeline and create market opportunity. But there's also an internal efficiency as well. How they engage digitally with insurers or carriers. Creating efficiency, having the ability to go out and find the best rates or best products out there in the market to better serve their needs.”
Bunker said independent agencies are attracted to Applied because they offer scale and expertise. “We bring expertise around digital connectivity – gone are the days of closed systems. Independent agents want choice and the flexibility to innovate. Our open architecture provides flexibility and easier access to more quickly integrate third-party applications so independent agencies can be in control of their own tech destiny,” he said.
Applied’s philosophy around open technology extends to its partners too. Case in point, Applied has partnered with Salesforce which combines Applied’s expertise in insurance and Salesforce’s expertise in sales and marketing. “It’s a natural synergy to be able to bring our solutions together. We're very excited to be able to deliver capabilities on the Salesforce platform,” said Bunker.
Google is another technology partner and has made a significant investment in the company. The partnership has brought a wealth of expertise and technology to Applied. From access to data scientists to deep cloud expertise, the partnership has allowed Applied to focus on providing that open, flexible, scalable technology.
“Google has really given us that vaccine, or that boost in the arm, to really help up our game from a technology stance,” said Bunker.
AI and the future of global trade
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming entrenched in our daily lives, but the technology is still surrounded by misconceptions and skepticism. Ask the public and they may jump to dystopian scenarios where robots have taken over the world.
While this makes for a good sci-fi blockbuster plot, the reality is different and more benign. Those products that Amazon suggested you buy? AI. That TV series you were recommended to watch on Netflix? AI. That self-driving Tesla car you crave to take for a spin? You guessed it: AI.
There is no single industry that is not being re-shaped by technology. Until recently, however, there was one noteworthy exception: global trade. Fortunately, that is slowly changing.
The mechanism that underpins global trade – trade finance – is an industry that remains largely paper-based and reliant on manual processes. This US$18tn a year industry is now being influenced by a new wave of technological innovation, including AI.
Exploring the potential of AI in Trade Finance
AI refers to the use of computer-aided systems to help people make decisions or make decisions for them. It relies on large volumes of data and models to make sense of information and draw intelligence.
In trade finance, AI is helpful in analysing quantitative data, and the repetitive nature of trade finance means that there is a lot of non-traditional data at our disposal.
This means that when trade finance providers need to assess the risks of funding a transaction, AI models can be a very efficient tool for data analysis and reveal intelligence and risks relating to small companies.
AI helps the industry move beyond traditional credit scoring processes, which are often outdated and remain reliant on historical accounting entries – a barrier that prevents small companies from accessing trade finance and has resulted in a $1.5tn global shortfall.
Overcoming the barriers
AI can tackle this shortfall by creating accurate credit scoring models. This can include a company’s payment history, measure the risks of funding a transaction, identify supply chain risks, and benchmark them against their peer group.
Trade finance providers can use this information to communicate effectively with their SME clients, ultimately helping establish better business relationships.
Towards a technological utopia?
The adoption of AI has the potential to do a lot of good in the industry, and the industry is in the early stages of radical transformation.
Advances are driven by fintechs as well as a willingness to change. The industry is working together to create new infrastructure for distributing trade finance assets to other investors in a transparent, standardised format.
The creation of infrastructure is possible due to improvements in technology and integrated across the trade ecosystem in cooperation with banks, insurers, and other industry participants.
It’s collaboration at its best: together, the industry is using technology to re-shape global trade as we know it.