The Digital Path Forward
ACN Updates | Brian Langerman, CEO Applied Client Network | Jan 6 2021
Looking back at Applied Net 2019, I recall ending my speech with the following: “Let me finish by saying I am very excited for what 2020 will bring — it will be a truly amazing year."
Well, it has been a truly amazing year, in every sense of the word. Perhaps the most amazing occurrence of all has been how everyone across the globe has been plunged into unfamiliar situations marked by profound uncertainty. Shut-downs and the subsequent radical reshaping of the global economy brought about by COVID-19 has forced everyone -- brands, communities, nations -- into a digital-first reality.
The kind of uncertainty this year has wrought demands agility, flexibility and resiliency, as well as a clear path forward. Fortunately for Applied Client Network (ACN), we've been prepared for a crisis like this, even if we didn't know it!
ACN has been on a clear digital path forward since its inception. Our entire reason for existence -- users helping users -- has been predicated upon the use of Applied Systems solutions to help make our insurance agencies and brokerages more efficient and more profitable, while improving the customer experience.
I believe this is an excellent philosophy for all aspects of our lives, including how we conduct business. It made me realize another important insight: Applied Client Network quickly became your trusted partner helping with the transition to remote situations by offering online learning capabilities, integrated chapters and access to Applied software. ACN is uniquely qualified, to not only survive in a pandemic that has shut down so many aspects of the economy, but to thrive and help navigate these times.
As an organization, with our deep connection to Applied Systems solutions, we have pioneered the use of digital tools to enhance how we do business. Our devotion to technology has improved the customer experience and delivered unparalleled service, allowing our members to be more productive with their time while increasing profitability and maximizing the use of their Applied Systems products.
With that, I want to share some of the highlights of the past year, including benefits you as members have enjoyed and how they relate to the three pillars that make up our mission: education, networking and advocacy.
First, we released our ACN-A List Program, which allows members to earn digital badges for proficiency in TAM, Epic and other solutions, online and on their own time. We created the ACN Peer-to-Peer Connect program, which allows members to connect online with experts on various industry subject matters. Each call is focused around a particular topic. Additionally, we developed ACN Sparks to provide digestible quick hit videos for industry professionals; each Byte is a brief, 5-10 minute instructional video covering a wide range of topics.
On the education front, we launched, the ACN Learning Center, which enables members to access a diverse library of on-demand education and training with significant ease of access and improved convenience.
In another example of how being a member allows you to take advantage of being virtual, ACN launched the inaugural season of its first podcast, Re:Applied, which gathers Applied users and industry leaders to share valuable insight on specific topics.
We have showcased members in our “Chapter Chats” series within Connections, content which features interviews with well-known industry professionals and ACN chapter leaders. Also on the digital content front, we have continued to produce our TechKnowFile column, highlighting member voices and expertise, for Rough Notes.
I’m not done yet. This year, we introduced the “Experience ACN campaign” for non-members to take advantage of the benefits of ACN for a limited time, and we developed an Enterprise Membership program, designed to fit the needs of larger agencies and brokerages of 100 employees or more.
For this year’s virtual Applied Net conference, we offered over 125 live and on-demand sessions, in addition to expert panels and round tables, which proved to be a rousing success.
Last but not least, the ACN Member Chapters program has been very successful in helping to increase our national presence with a targeted local focus on providing networking and educational content to our community. In mid-March, we decided it would be in the best interest of our members and volunteers to pause in-person meetings and start the transition to virtual chapter events. For now, during the pandemic, this is an advantage over in-person, but we know it’s not a replacement for being together. I think we all appreciate the personal touch, but even without traveling and seeing everyone face- to-face, we haven’t skipped a beat.
Going forward, we see great things in our future. In 2021 we are looking to bring back the in-person experience of chapter meetings. Educational offerings will remain relevant and forward-thinking; our speakers are more knowledgeable than ever and they have readily adapted to teaching on different platforms.
As previously mentioned, another benefit of being a member of ACN is our dedication to industry advocacy. Advocacy gives our members exclusive opportunities to provide product feedback and make requests directly to Applied Systems and the industry at large. Our Industry Membership and Product Advocacy for Customer Technology Committee, known as IMPACT, collaborates with Applied Systems as an advocate for our members to drive continuous innovation of Applied Software products. IMPACT is responsible for the development of external education, outreach and advocacy initiatives.
Given the challenges presented in 2020, we recognize we are all experiencing similar struggles while striving for success. Despite the hardships, we are still here, still easily reachable — maybe even more so — and still more than willing to help, every day and in every way. It’s obvious that there is great strength in working together, in being partners, in being users helping users as we pave our digital path forward.
In closing, I want to thank everyone who attended Applied Net 2020 for believing in the success of a virtual event from the onset. I also want to thank all of our volunteers, participating partners, our Board of Directors and all our friends at Applied Systems for your ongoing support and contributions to ACN and our industry. You are truly the life blood of this organization, which continues to lead and grow rapidly because of your efforts! Without your hard work, your dedication and your willingness to be users helping users, we would not be the strong, vibrant, growing organization that we are today — and that we will continue to be, thanks to everything you do.
When the dust settles and we can be together again, I think we will look back on the 2020 experience as one of growth and learning. Thank you all again for your valuable contributions to ACN in 2020. Stay strong, stay healthy and stay focused.
Tags: ACN Updates , Applied Client Network , Year in Review