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What are the key technology trends in insurance?

More precisely, what do you think will be the key technology trends that will have an impact on the insurance industry in 2011?

The reason I am asking is that at the IIABA Agents Council for Technology (ACT) meeting in Tampa on February 19 there will be a Strategic Future Issues panel and breakout sessions discussing this question. I serve as the Chair for the ACT Social Web Workgroup and as such am very interested in the outcome of these discussions.

Over100 representatives from carriers, associations, and agencies, as well as, technology and media consultants will attend the meeting. This is the choir so to speak. While these folks are really smart and have plenty of informed ideas and opinions – here is your chance… I would really like to hear what you think. I encourage you to leave a comment on this post. Tell me what you see as the key technology trends that are and/or will have an impact on your business. How are you coping with the rapid advancement in technology and all the change it is bringing about? Is (or how is) new technology helping you grow your business?

I will make sure your opinion becomes part of the Strategic Future Issues discussion.

Playing Around With QR Codes

QR codes are everywhere. On my last trip through Denver International, I noticed a bank using QR codes to link to Sedoku games. They had a large advertisement displaying QR codes and were encouraging travelers to scan the codes with their smart phones. By doing so, they would be re-directed to the Sedoku games.  Pat Alexander had a guest post by Mary Biever on her insurance Ecosystem blog covering QR codes, which helped further explain what QR codes are and how they can be used. While catching up on articles in Google Reader this morning, I saw that Chris Brogan had done a short post on using PingTags to create a QR code that links to your Linkedin account. I have been messing around with QR codes this past week and it caught my attention. Interesting? Anyway, I had to give PingTags a try.

Using PingTags is really easy. You simply allow them to connect to your LinkedIn account and they automatically generate the QR code. Now what? Well, as they suggest, you might add this code to your business card. Perhaps you can have a bunch of tee shirts printed up with your code on them. Put them on any print ad that you do. Actually, this would be a great way for vendors at a convention to provide company information – at least much better than loading everyone up with a bunch of brochures.

PingTags is only one example of an easy way to generate your own unique QR code. If you search Google for QR generators you will find many others. In fact, Google Places allows businesses to create them and link such information as reviews, contact information and even coupons.

Ok, that is how you create your QR code. To use them on your phone you need a scanner/reader. Again, search Google for “QR scanner (make of phone)”. Some phones have the reader built in. I downloaded one of the free Apps for my iPhone.

That is pretty much it. Oh… The QR Code in this post is the one from PingTags. By scanning it you will be taken to my LinkedIn profile – try it.

Are you using QR codes to promote yourself or your business? How?

What Are You Doing to Stay Organized?

If  your week was like mine last week was a slow “work” week. The Aartrijk team was officially on Holiday and while several of us were still attending to work related stuff – it was at a much reduced activity level. Besides enjoying a all the special holiday events with family and friends, I also had time to attend to a whole host of housecleaning and organizational tasks I had been neglecting. Here is what I did.

1. Chrome: I switched my browser of choice from Firefox to Chrome. I am not yet sure the change will be permanent but so far I am liking the “clean” feel of Chrome.

2.Gist:  It was getting harder and harder to manage my growing list of contacts, as well as, all the ways I could connect and communicate with them across social sites and email. I am finding Gist a very useful tool. I now have one unified list which contains a rich profile of everyone which includes news, status updates, blog posts and all their means of contact. Needless to say, I added the Gist Extension to Chrome.

3. Twitter: More than anything else my Twitter feed was out of control. I spent time cleaning up my list of followers and then set up  new lists on several topics I am interested in. The TweetDeck extension is perhaps one of the best extentinos on Chrome.

4. Diigo:  Perhaps you heard the rumor that Yahoo was planning on shutting down Delicious? I have been using the social bookmarking site Delicious for several years to bookmark, tag and share links to sites and articles I found interesting. Well, it may be in fact just a rumor but to be safe I decided to create a Diigo account and transfer all my Delicious Bookmarks. Actually, Diigo lets you post to both sites simultaneously – which is what I am doing.

5. Quora – From ” About” “Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.” I am not sure about this yet – but it is interesting. It feels a bit like Facebook meets Wikipedia.

5. Google Reader – Over the years I have subscribed to lots and lots of RSS feeds. It was time to clean out the blogs that had gone inactive or that I no longer had any interest in. Ahhh…That feels much better.

6. Paying attention to the ideas of Content Marketing and Content Curation. Without question we are going to hear a lot about these topics in 2011.

7. Read some great articles on Trends to watch in 2011

A List of Trends, Ideas, Predictions for 2011

The New Next: 2011 Social Media Influencers Predictions by TrendsSpotting

Seven Digital Media Trends of 2011 | Social Media Today

What new stuff are you using to stay “organized”.  – if you are using any of the tools mentioned above let me know what you think.

I am not sure I feel completely organized or all caught up. Yet, I feel reenergized and ready for the opportunities, challenges and surprises ahead in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Read Twitter as A Daily Newspaper –

I ran across this application and am intrigued. Basically, organizes links shared on Twitter into an easy to read newspaper-style format. A “Daily” can be created for any Twitter user, list or #tag. I have created several “daily” papers. Below is a shot of my “Insurance Daily”.

While that is cool enough, I am thinking at this could be used by any organization or association in conjunction with a convention or educational event. For example, they would create a Twitter list of all their attendees (at least the ones that had twitter accounts) and then use to create a unique “Daily” paper. They could also generate a “Daily” around relevant event topics.   It could used by an agency or broker to do the same by creating a list of insurance topics. I could also see and agency or broker creating a “Daily” made up of their customers.

What ideas do you have on how this could be used by your company?

Feed Your Brain

Brain Coral
Much of the “conversation” around the social web is focused on how to create a presence and get found. Yet, there is another significant value lurking in the social space. It is the amazing resource of information and knowledge residing here. As friend Mike Wise is fond of saying, “There is a hidden treasure in ‘social’ that can be used to feed your brain and increase your IQ.” While that may seem obvious to many, I find that its potential is under appreciated and is rarely used effectively.

I am talking about more than Google search. It is more than just researching a topic. Rather, it is using search in places like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to differentiate yourself and increase your competitive advantage.

Here is an example to demonstrate my point. During a breakout session on social media at a recent Agents Council for Technology meeting an agent recounted how a service provider showed up for a meeting and presented him with a book on a topic to of interest to him. Prior to the meeting, the service provider had researched the agent’s profile on Linkedin, and Facebook. Clearly, this gesture made an impression.

How are you using this rich information and knowledge resource?

Photo Credit: Flickr Ryan Somma