The big Google investment suggests it sees a great future for independent agents. So, what's the verdict after six months?
The insurance world was caught by surprise last October when Google’s Capital G investment arm announced a substantial investment in Applied Systems (north of $100 million). It was seen by many as an endorsement of the independent agent (IA) channel. If Google believes it will make a nice return on investment in a company serving the IA channel, then it must believe the channel will survive and grow. From the Applied Systems viewpoint, in addition to the extra capital to invest in the platform, it was anticipating access to world-class technology and expertise from Google. So now that the investment/partnership is six months in, what can we say about the progress?
Recently, I was fortunate to witness some of the activity first-hand, as Applied invited me to join them at the Google Cloud Next event in San Francisco. For me, it was a chance to “experience” Google and meet some of the players in the Applied/Google partnership. I’ve come away with several observations about Google and Applied Systems.
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- Deep partnership: As originally promised, the Google investment was more than money looking for a return. Applied and Google are collaborating at the development level, with dozens of Applied developers being trained and exposed to Google tech.
- Future promise: It is still early in terms of how Google tech and expertise will influence Applied/IVANS systems, but there are indications that the first fruits will be visible this summer, and more enhancements and capabilities will be built into the product road map over the next several years.
- New era of computing: The shift to a new era of computing is well underway. The event was focused on developers, and the entire event was filled with sessions and discussions about containers, connectors, Kubernetes, APIs, big data, cloud, edge computing security, AI/machine learning and other technologies and approaches that are transforming how computing systems are designed, built and managed.
My one disappointment at the event was that insurance was not very visible. There were hundreds of speakers and dozens of use cases, but nothing for insurance. Banking, retail and healthcare use cases and solutions were prominent (as were those from many other industries), but insurance only received a passing mention. Let's hope the Applied/Google relationship will change that, and that more technology harnessed to address specific insurance use cases will be in evidence by next year’s event.