In the insurance & financial industry, the plentitude of enterprise social media offers considerable promise, yet in so many areas it’s stalled—sitting idle with no particular road map for the future. Why? Because outside of the enterprise it’s primarily thought of as a consumer-driven vehicle, used strictly for communication purposes. But for some, social media is being recognized as a catalyst for innovation and change.

Most insurers already use some type of externally facing social technology for acquisition, customer service, retention, and other marketing purposes. But what they’re not doing is looking beyond the obvious, recognizing the expansive possibilities of social media on a much larger scale. They need to become innovators and integrate social technology with existing architectural and organizational strategies if they’re going to stay ahead of the competition moving into the next decade.

But in an industry that’s typically slow to respond to technology and still recovering from a soft market, the restructuring of internal applications towards a more consumer-centric business model means a significant disruption of systems. This push on existing business processes, applications, and data, means breaking through the traditional legacy paradigm. It means investing in systems with enhanced integration capabilities to support connections and interactions between individuals and communities, and facilitate enterprise activities in all possible combinations.

It also means that as the industry moves forward, insurance and financial companies need to view human capital as an important asset, looking at new ways to bring transparency of what they are doing across the organization. It has to have a wide reach that includes the agent, the carrier, the branch, and the marketing force. It’s understanding the value of various social platforms and determining the best approach to incorporating social technology into the way their enterprises do business.

This generation of social technologies can provide insurers with a new approach to disseminating, identifying, using, and sharing information across multiple platforms and channels. But this change in the business information landscape will require a substantial investment in social technology tools, as well as changes in corporate practices and processes.