When Andy Fairchild (pictured) first joined Applied Systems Europe as CEO in February of this year, it was only a few short weeks before the COVID-19 lockdown first hit the UK. In an interview with Insurance Business at that time, Fairchild highlighted his belief that the time was right for Applied Systems to move on to the next natural phase of its growth.
Now more than seven months into the COVID pandemic, Fairchild outlined the core areas of focus for the business as it moves through the pandemic, as part of a roundtable discussion at last week’s Applied Net Europe event on ‘Our Digital Path Forward’. The UK and Ireland market needs a strong and vibrant Applied, he said, and this same requirement goes for the entire software house market which needs the business to bring a market-leading proposition to fruition.
To take market share requires an expansive and ambitious strategy, he said, and the business has continued to make dedicated investments during the COVID crisis to ensure this strategy remains on track. Applied has brought on over 60 new people, which reflects the fact that now is a great time to attract high-quality talent. Recently, the business also enjoyed investment from Google, through its growth investment fund, Capital G, to support Applied’s focus on accelerated growth through digital technology. Commenting on this, Fairchild noted that this was greeted as a concrete show of faith in its dynamics and the strength of its strategic direction
For now, there are five key areas of focus for the business, from enhancing its digital capability to expanding out aggregator integrations to enhancing its pricing and rules engines to delivering a seamless way for people to migrate to the Applied Epic platform to, last but not least, expanding its integrations with its insurer partners. When establishing these goals, he said, they were each formed with the requirements of Applied’s broker partners firmly in mind.
“That’s the result of a few lifetimes of understanding what’s important to brokers,” he said, “but also understanding where the UK and Republic of Ireland’s broking currently is, and how we map against our competitors, and the gaps that we need to fill and the areas where we can really differentiate ourselves. And that’s where those five key areas of focus came from. Applied UK and Ireland is unashamedly run by ex-broking folk for a reason, and that’s because we want to stay focused on what’s important to brokers, and focused on the broker and the end-user experience.”
When you put a three-to-five-year plan together, in an organisation that looks and feels, and has the aspirations of Applied, Fairchild said, it is necessary to strive for market leadership. However, he noted that having such aspirations is always a big ask. For Applied, this ambition is rooted deep within its DNA, as it has market-leading operations in the US and Canada. It’s uncomfortable not to have that position yet within the UK and Ireland, he said, but this is what the business’s three-to-five year plan has been designed to achieve.
Fairchild outlined that this strategic plan is unashamedly organic as the business believes it has a great opportunity to bring Epic to market in a way that will help it lead the way in the UK and Ireland. Of course, he said, mergers and acquisitions have a habit of happening in a way that cannot be planned, and this is the same for any corporation worldwide.
“There’s a real strategic focus for us in the UK and Ireland,” he said. “That’s our start point. We will continue to be thoughtful and opportunistic in the rest of Europe. And when the time is right our intent is to go there. But the key message for our brokers and insurers in the UK and Ireland is that this is where our focus is currently, and we are here and we’re here to stay.”