Vertafore is forging new partnerships and shaking up how it develops and deploys new products. A big reason behind these efforts is Greg Wright, the company’s new senior vice president of Agency Management Systems who was featured prominently at the NetVu15 conference in Indianapolis last month.
Vertafore delivers cloud-based insurance software and services to more than 20,000 insurance agencies and carriers.
Wright, a veteran of Silicon Valley whose last stop was at Intuit, has been with the company a scant eight months.
In that time, however, he’s added energy, focus and a new perspective on how to develop products that meet 21st century needs—a perspective that agents can embrace quickly. He’s quick to say the Vertafore team already in place when he arrived was top-notch, however there’s no question his non-insurance experience drives his quest to engineer a new path.
Gregory Wright, SVP, Agency Management Systems
“When I arrived here, I was impressed with the insurance industry’s collaborative nature and how everyone wants to share best practices in order to better serve their clients,” Wright says. “At the same time, I was just as dismayed at the industry’s insularity. This industry is far too inward-looking which only hurts our ability to find the right solutions to many challenges we face.”
Wright says that too often a product gets developed because a long-time industry veteran perceives a need and creates a solution based on their narrow, insurance-only experience.
“I fully recognize our industry’s uniqueness and complexity,” he says. “Ours is not just a ring at a cash register between workflows and binding and many other steps,” he says. “The industry, however, really does not have a purposeful data strategy and we’ve made it harder for ourselves. When it comes to data, we’ve built hundreds of one-way streets when we should be building single bridges.”
Wright says he uses a change management philosophy he learned at Intuit.
“The first step is to create the burning platform, in other words, to convey the need for a change in the strongest possible terms, he says. “We then point a new direction, identify the reasons for the change, and then become the role model for change.”
A common method to develop new products is to first ask agents what they need, however Wright says that presents a challenge.
“Agents will tell us ‘I want to be able to do this,’ or ‘I need to able to accomplish that,'” he said. “That’s fine as far as it goes, but I want to stop them at that point and ask the more critical question—’Why? What’s the reason behind you wanting to do it this way?'”
“Frankly, I’d like to get rid of the ‘how’ questions and dig down to find the baseline objective and start there,” he says.
Wright notes, too, that too often software developers spend their time writing code for a problem only to find that once done, the finished product is too complicated and hard to use.
“We can’t just listen to customers. You have to watch what they do and how they do it to truly understand their needs and what they can use,” he says. “I am looking for MVPs or minimally viable products that address a need and build out from there. We want to come up solutions that are super simple that do not require a lot of training. Our goal for training is to facilitate active use.”