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Nathan Golia
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Insurance Cloud Success Stories

Insurers that once doubted the cloud are benefiting from the competitive and economic advantages of as-a-service models -- with great results.
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Ease Of Use Enables Mobile Training

Glenview, Ill.-based Combined Insurance is a "pretty old-school" organization in its distribution model, says Michael Helton, special projects coordinator of technology and training for the company. However, the way it trains its large field force of door-to-door sales agents is getting more new school by the day through a partnership with Brainshark, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of presentation software-as-a-service.

"We've always had a very large workforce. We don't do contracts like some of the other direct marketing companies," Helton explains. "So whenever we hire someone we do some training with them in the classroom, then on-the-job training with their manager. It's a very labor-intensive, very information-intensive training program."

It's also expensive, and as the costs of bringing in dozens of new prospects at a time for training increase, Combined ($729.6 million in 2011 written premium) was looking for ways to offset some of those costs. Online learning was an obvious fit -- but traditional models for doing so didn't meet the company's needs.

"Traditional online learning was a very structured, rigid system," Helton says. "But our salespeople want bite-sized pieces of information where and when they need it."

Enter Brainshark, which offers a SaaS-delivered platform for creating learning programs and evaluating their efficacy. Helton is able to upload content -- video or PowerPoints, for example -- to the Brainshark system, and create courses around them. Brainshark offers a quizzing platform attached to each piece of educational content that ensures efficacy, as well as analytics around how much of each course the prospect watched.

"We focus more on pre-class training, where people can go online and get overviews on our products, so that when they come into sales school -- which is a very expensive process for us -- they are at a much higher level of knowledge," Helton says.

Brainshark scored major points, Helton adds, because its content is viewable with full functionality across a wealth of mobile platforms. It also allows business users to take content from one presentation and import it into another if needed, within the platform, instead of having to create everything offline to upload.

"Brainshark was actively involved on the cutting edge in getting video to show up on smartphones and tablets -- things that employees were already using or looking to use," Helton says. "Also, creating courses is a very time-consuming and sometimes expensive process. But they had pieces we could recycle, sometimes with drag-and-drop. I've probably created more than 500 courses in the past two and a half years."

-- Nathan Golia

[Do Insurers Understand The Cloud's Real Value? ]

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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