I remember when I first got into e-business in 2000. It was for an e-learning company, and I went to a New Jersey company on a sales call. New Jersey people can be very direct. The guy I was talking to said, “Now Mike, how long are you guys going to be around? Last year it was e-everything. This year it’s g-everything — yeah G… Gone.”

Well, that about sums up what people believed about Internet business. But it hasn’t disappeared. It’s continued to evolve and grow stronger — even in the insurance industry. Mark Seghers of ASK Consulting, a rising star in insurance e-business consulting made the following comment:

“E-business” is a term that has been a bit ballyhooed in recent years, due to the hype and eventual bubble-burst of the Internet in its early days. The Internet was going to eliminate insurance agents, make insurance less expensive, and revolutionize the industry in a matter of a few years. As we all know, that did not happen.

“However, just because the Internet did not redefine the industry overnight, we must not lose site of the real and exciting benefits a well thought-out and systematically deployed Internet solution can provide to help agents and policyholders do business. The Internet, because of its ubiquity and ease of use, can help reduce expenses, eliminate paperwork, and increase the speed with which we do business. These benefits in turn drive agent loyalty, help customers find your loyal agents, and in turn can drive steadily increasing sales and retention of business.

“These days, it’s less about “just do it” and more about doing it right. Doing it right these days means considering the outside-in perspective — serving the needs of your most valuable constituents — and leveraging the help of valuable outside partners who are in touch with the industry and are familiar with the best of what is available to improve your business.”

Mark knows what he is talking about. He did most of the heavy lifting when then-Fortis, now Assurant, launched its e-business initiative…. as well as with American Medical Security when they launched eAMS. So he knows what he is writing about. His comments are on target when he states the need to “do it right,” “leveraging the help of outside partners,” and the value of a “systematically deployed Internet solution.”

It seems the marketing aspect of insurance e-business is starting to crystallize. If they haven’t already done so, it’s time for insurance industry representatives to take a look at their long-term marketing plans, and see how incorporating e-business functions can help their company, customers and agents.