Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: ICM & APR

Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: ICM & APR

Coffee, Commissions, & CPQ: ICM & APR

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Author: Canidium Podcast

Coffee, Commissions, and CPQ is a podcast by Canidium that will cover topics about all things sales, sales operations, sales enablement, and SPM! In the seventh episode of our series, Umair Khakoo discusses ICM and APM, two SAP tools that provide built-in functionality for analytics that could be used to build reports and dashboards on pretty much any data. Tune into our podcast by clicking the link below, or read the transcripts on this blog!

Bailey McCaffrey:
 Hello and welcome to Coffee, Commissions, and CPQ. My name is Bailey McCaffrey and I'm your host for this episode. Today, Umair Kahkoo and I will be discussing analytics and insurance ICM or incentive compensation management, and APM or agent performance management. But before we get into that, I'd like to do an introduction of our guest Umair. Will you start by telling me just a little bit about yourself?

Umair Kahkoo:  Sure, sure. So, my name is Umair Kahkoo. I've been with Canadium for about two years now. And I studied chemistry in college. And then I went back last year to get a certificate in data science since I transitioned from, you know, hard sciences to tech. And right now I work in the ICM practice. I have a lot of experience with the agent performance management tool. So that's where I'm coming from.

Bailey McCaffrey:  How did you go from chemistry to data science?

Umair Kahkoo:  So once I graduated from college, my first gig was working in sales, at a chemistry related startup. And that was a really cool experience, combining a lot of my different interests. One of my jobs in college was like doing fundraising like calling random alumni and asking them to give money. So I was pretty comfortable doing sales. I was always interested in startups. So I started out there and then eventually, I found out about an opportunity at another startup called ICONICS. They had their own sales performance management and incentive compensation management products. And I had never worked with Cloud Platform anything before, but it was through a friend referral, that I got that job and I thought, you know, let's try this out. I've done sales, let's see the other side of sales comp, and I really enjoyed it. I that's where I learned how to code. And once I learned how to code and I realized It's actually not as terrifying as it seemed to be. Earlier in my life, I actually really enjoyed technology. I wanted to just double down and keep learning more, which is why I went back to school last year, to really learn how to code and get an in depth perspective on analytics. I'm hoping eventually I can transition back into the sciences, but you know coming from a technology perspective, I think that can really change the world.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Definitely. That's super cool. What are some things that you enjoy doing during your free time?

Umair Khakoo: So, I really enjoyed learning, which is pretty cheesy, but it's very true as well. I love learning how to cook new things. I'm always trying new foods. I also love the outdoors, I've done a lot of hiking and stuff. I am really interested in biology college and I have a science background. So I like being out there you know, learning what's growing and what's happening in the seasons, really being attentive in nature when I'm out there, I'd really like those details. I've also spent some time doing more personable things. I did, I took some improv comedy classes a couple years ago. And that was really fun, you know, doing improv comedy, which was totally out of my element. But I learned a ton. And then I tried stand up for a little bit as well, also out of my element, but I think that's fundamentally changed how I talk and how I interact with people. These days, I'm really into machine learning. That's, that's a kind of discipline of data science, where you can train a model to then predict outcomes based on datasets. And that's really an intersection of math and computer science. And that's really cool. So I keep learning those things. I'm hoping to bring some of that to Canidium as well. You know, I think there's a lot of opportunity with data science and what we're doing here that I do.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Wow, you're all over the board. That's awesome. I love that it's cooking, comedy, and learning. It's just, it's awesome. And what is your role at Canidium?

Umair Kahkoo:  So, as part of interest practice, currently, I'm a consultant on my one project that has gone on for about a year and a half,  ACC. I started out as a data analyst and then eventually transitioned to more of a data engineering role where I was mostly in the back end, and supporting a lot of the integration with API's. We just wrapped up a long and intense implementation, but it was really cool to be on one project my entire time here so far at Canidium because I was really able to be personable with the clients and get an in-depth understanding of the product itself. Like knowing all the cogs and pieces and pipelines and whatnot. And so yeah, now I'm a consultant. I'm trying to spend more of my time building trainings. I learned while working on this project that a lot of people at Canidium don't understand API's in terms of data integration that well. So I'm hoping to create a training about that. Just because API's are critical in cloud world. And yeah, I love sharing that knowledge as well.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Awesome. And how long have you been in the industry?

Umair Kahkoo:  I've been in the industry just about two years. My last job at ICONICS before I left, I had done an insurance comp management implementation for a small insurance company. And we got an opportunity with Canidium, and then I've been here since.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Awesome. Well, thank you so much for sharing a little bit about yourself and giving us the lowdown on who you are. And now that we know more about you, I would love to jump into the meat of this podcast. Do you think you could begin by telling me a little bit about what ICM and APM even is?

Umair Kahkoo:  Sure, sure. So ICM, as you mentioned, stands for incentive compensation management. And APM stands for Agent performance management. It was the agent performance management, APM, in particular has gone through many names. I think it has an identity crisis. It used to be called producer probe before that it was producer manager. But I think this name really sticks. And essentially they've, SAP, which is this massive multinational German company, acquired another company previously called Callidus Cloud. And they bought two different products called ICM, and back then it was called producer manager. And they've worked a lot in terms of integrating them. And so now, ICM and APM are actually very similar. If I was to draw a Venn diagram, APM would just be totally engulfed by ICM. They have all the same functionality. But then ICM also allows you to build in the compensation plans and do the calculations, and then pay people through the application. So that's totally integrated, whereas APM requires you to also have a Commissions product like SAP Commissions that integrates with that application. And that's how you pay people out eventually. But it has both the applications, house all of this agent or broker data, right. So it, they both house their contracts, their licenses, appointments, certifications, all of those are used to verify whether or not a broker or an insurance agent is actually, you know, has a valid license to sell insurance. If they don't, right, if they drop the ball on that they could actually be fined by the company. Which is, you know, one source of revenue for the company, and that's why they care to keep all that in order. It also has their contact and banking information, which of course, you know, eventually goes downstream. And that's how they get paid. It also has something called their book of business, which is essentially all of the people and companies have bought insurance through that insurance provider. So it ties, you know, the insurance agent or broker who sells the insurance and who actually buys the insurance. And that's what is eventually used to pay out these brokers.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Wow. So tons of data being stored in those and how do they play into the insurance organization as a whole?

Umair Kahkoo:  So, into the insurance organization at Canidium. Those are the two products we implement and as for the customers I mean, this is really the center, the repository, of their data for which they use to pay out these insurance agents. And they can measure how well they are doing especially with ICM, they can really measure within one application, how well are their different insurance agents and territories are doing different products are doing. Right, because an insurance agency, you know, they sell retail insurance, which is if I want to buy individual insurance, I can do that through their retail brands. But they also have like a group insurance, which is what companies buy for their employees. So, they're different lines of businesses. And the insurance organization can really see how all of those are doing in one place. So, it's really a great repository for all their data. And because it's on the cloud, people no longer need to have things in spreadsheets locally. This is all on the cloud. Everybody who is in an admin role that needs access has access. It is also more secure than just, you know, spreadsheets being emailed around. So, it has a huge role in improving process and helping the organization scale.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Awesome. So this is about agent experience, right? And so how does ICM help create a better agent experience and better retainment? And how does that in return impact the customer?

Umair Kahkoo:  Sure, sure. So, as I mentioned earlier insurance companies previously a lot of them, especially the mid market insurance companies, the ones that are not tiny, but they're also not huge. They are still doing a lot of their calculations in Excel. In Excel spreadsheets, and they've been paying out people with paper checks. And you know, this manual system is prone to error. And it's slow because it takes a while for the team that does the calculations. You know, oftentimes, that's a part time team, you know, like two or three people might be hired part time to do this at the end of a quarter. And so they might not be able to pay out people as often. And because it's a manual process is prone to error. And if somebody leaves because they're part time, then the company has to find a new person, train them completely, and then get the process started. And so, one of our clients, a very successful implementation, some of the things that really shine with ICM and APM include how they're able to scale the organization. So if a mid market insurance company wants to grow or is in the territory of investing in growing the company and scaling the business, right. Getting more insurance agents on board, more territories to sell their insurance, they need a better system that's not manual. And so, what this allows them to do is actually automate parts of their compensation, reduce the number of errors and mistakes that they then have to deal with later on down the line. Right, because if you say, pay somebody incorrectly and they find out you know, months later, then you have to process that manually and give them a check for however much you owe them or try and you know, get money back from them. Which typically doesn't happen. So, companies will lose money, if there are errors. So we want to reduce the errors right. We also are able to speed up the frequency at which we as an organization, as an insurance organization, are able to pay out our insurance agents. So you can increase payment frequency, you can also automate the payment process. Because no longer are you issuing a check a physical check, you can just do a direct deposit. But you know, that is a different process, but this will help the organization do direct deposits. And most importantly, I think the big picture at the end is when a mid market insurance organization is trying to scale. They want to shift focus from these, this team that does the comp from just doing the admin tasks and the calculations, because now there's an application that does it for them. They can focus more on strategic plan design. So, what that really ends up meaning is, for example, say I work for an insurance company and my job is every quarter to find the spreadsheet from last quarter. Get the sales information for all the insurance agents and then put it through the spreadsheet to calculate how much everybody's paid. That takes a while, but if that part of my job is automated, then I can really think about okay, you know, what can I tweak in terms of the plan of the these different insurance agents or different lines of businesses to you know, encourage them to make more sales. Or increase our own revenue, or decrease our spending on their comp, right. So you can really take a more strategic, almost an engineering perspective to improve your compensation offerings and that that also helps an organization like that scale. Because if you can, as you grow, if you can be nimble and agile, and update your plan designs as necessary as more insurance brokers come on board I mean, that's a huge bonus. I mean, because that improves the agent experience at the end of there. The agents in the agencies, they like that they want to be paid more often they want to be paid correctly. And they want a better plan that actually works for them. So I think that's really what ICM and APM are both able to bring to the table.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Definitely. So that automation, definitely saving time for managers and helping agents as well, because they're being paid more frequently and more accurately. And I'm sure it's saving them. Of what have you seen customers accomplish with the help of these technologies and a sales consultancy?

Umair Kahkoo:  Sure, sure. So, one of our client, theirs was a very successful implementation. And the ICM implementation actually allowed them to scale and integrate their whole compensation with Salesforce, which is what they were already using to track the sales. And then it allowed them to replace all the paper checks and Excel spreadsheets with direct deposits and this cloud application. Where things are shared by everybody. And you know, they were able to reduce the errors as well. At the end of the day, this helped the brokers help themselves. Right, because the brokers get their own portal where they can log in and see how they're performing. And what they can decide then based on their own statistics, what they need to do for the rest of the month, the rest of the quarter and the rest of the year. So that's really encouraging the help the brokers to, you know, do the best, do their best to really succeed in making more sales. Getting more commissions for themselves and then getting more sales for the insurance company. My understanding is that Canidium, our team, use iterative testing to make a more custom solution. So once the design was set in stone, as the project went on, the team discovered, you know, changes that needed to be made. In order to make a better product, even if that would deviate from the original plan, and our team actually went the extra mile to make that change. And to deliver a custom solution. And that was really appreciated, because that has a bigger impact on the team. And then now, you know, we've got ongoing services with them to maintain and upgrade the system as necessary. So it's, it's an ongoing relationship. It's not just we implement and then we hand it off, and we're out. We want to have that relationship that's ongoing. And that's really what we've had.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Definitely. So let's talk about what people care the most about, which is bottom line in revenue. Why should people in sales operations care about ICM?

Umair Kahkoo:  Very, very simple and great question, right. It allows the organization to scale. So if you're able to scale you can get more insurance agents. That means more overall revenue for you. Right? So it allows an organization to scale bigger and bigger, which is always great for the entire organization. And then it also allows the operations team to switch from just handling the compensation to actually strategizing and designing and adapting to that growth. So, it really helps them grow bigger, faster. And you know, without a hole, well, there might be growing pains. But that's, you know, that's a given most organizations, but it really helps them grow. Yeah.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Awesome. And where do you see the industry progressing forward in the next 5 to 10 years?

Umair Kahkoo:  So based on my analysis, and I'm fairly new to the industry, I see that more and more analytics will play a role in product implementations. Because so far, a lot of our work has been you know, having these companies, these mid market insurance companies transition from paper to software. That's been the transition that we've been helping with. But eventually, once enough companies have already transitioned to an automated software platform like ICM, then the next step becomes, alright, what do we do with all this data? Right? Because they're able to collect and have all this data in one place. So I think, in the future analytics will have an even bigger role in terms of measuring what are the most important factors in our plan that actually increase our impact on our revenue. And also impact the commissions and then eventually, I think machine learning and data science is going to come into play. Where we can use models that are trained and all this data because, again, the data in the real world is multivariate. So there's so many different variables that can impact the bottom line. Well, with data science and machine learning, we can build a model based off all those factors. And we can actually figure out which factors have an impact and which ones don't. And we can use that to do predictive analytics. So essentially, what that would mean is, we'd be able to go back to these insurance companies and help them understand what variables, what things they can tweak. To increase their revenue or optimize their revenue. And that's huge, right? That's something that a lot of companies do, it takes them a while to change their plans, but with a cloud based platform that automates a lot of their compensation, they're then able to shift their focus from just giving compensation to actually improving their plans.

Bailey McCaffrey:  For sure, and Umair, I know your expertise is more specifically in the realm of analytics. So could you tell me a little bit about why analytics are so important to an ICM implementation? 

Umair Kahkoo:  Sure. So, the first reason analytics are important are for accuracy, right? We want to make sure, especially oftentimes, early on into the implementation, we would actually get historical data from the clients and run it through our formulas, to make sure that the compensation plan that we've implemented and that we've calculated is accurate. And oftentimes, I've seen this in the past sometimes, that can actually uncover past inaccuracies that came from manual calculations. So, accuracy is extremely important, and then adoption as well. So once we are able to get data on who is logging in and how often we can actually use that to figure out which group of agents or agencies need a little bit more help. Like logging into the application and actually checking how they're doing. And we can see that through the applications. That's huge. And then you can, once you figure out who isn't adopting the use of the new application or whether or not that's actually having an impact on their bottom line as an agency, that gives you a lot of information that you can take back to the agency. And show them hey, you know, if you just log in twice a week instead of once a week, that'll increase your commissions and your own revenue by this much and that's huge. So increasing adoption of the best practices and then at the end of the day, improving the plans themselves. rBecause a lot of companies might have multiple plans. Even with very few pays, and so it allows them to really analyze which plans are doing the best over time, and then improve the plans as necessary.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Especially when you're talking in terms of these companies who are scaling at a large rate or even a normal rate of scale. It seems to me like accuracy, adoption, and improvement would be the three things that are so important making sure everything is accurate. And people are actually adopting these improvements that you are making. So I'd love that you touched on that. 

Umair Kahkoo:  Thank you. 

Bailey McCaffrey:  Could you tell me a little bit about some of those analytical tools that are available in ICM and APM?

Umair Kahkoo:  Absolutely. And this is an area where both ICM and APM have pretty much the same tools. So in both applications, we have access within the application itself to the SQL database where we can write queries to actually pull data. And there is an option to just set up SQL Data dumps. So for example, wanted, basically, every night they wanted a list of all of the IDs, the unique IDs in the application itself. They also wanted a list of all the new, I think the book of business. So everything that is new that came in that day, they wanted that to go downstream, we can just create and write a SQL script to dump that data and send it downstream. And they can analyze it further. So that's where SQL comes in. There's also an option to run user SQL. And what that means that you can create a SQL query in the application that's housed within the application. And there is a user interface where a user can enter a specific parameter. Say like a name or something they want to search by. And you can have this query actually generate perhaps a custom report or a custom extract based on whatever the user enters. So for example, if you want all the information for one, producers ID, you can set up a script where they will enter a producers ID, and be able to run a SQL query and get all their information. So SQLs great. As part of the application, there's also an option to make custom Jasper reports. Jasper is a separate application that allows you to create incredibly customized reports that on the back end, they're using SQL to pull the data together. But the report itself can be visually customized heavily and to make it you know, sometimes, even mimic reports that the company itself has been generating for a while. And then the Jasper reports once you develop them outside of the application, you can literally just upload them into the application and schedule them to be generated as often as you need them to. So that's that's a pretty powerful thing. And then at the end of day, widgets are also very useful. Widgets are basically bar graphs, pie charts and trend lines that you can make within the application with data from the application. And you can actually make them available to different users. So, you can make widgets for different user groups. So, for example, for the brokers, you might want to show them a graph of their revenue, or what their goals are for the rest of the year, for what their quotas are, but then also show them a graph of how often they're logging in, and whether or not they are logging in as often as they need to. And for the admins, they could have a more broad view of how the entire organization is doing and how they're tracking in terms of their goals. So, the widgets are pretty useful and very customizable, in terms of the user interface. So there are so many options in terms of doing analytics within and with the application.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Yeah, those tools are so important and so helpful. So thanks for touching on that a little bit. Before we wrap up, I know we're nearing the end of our time. But would you just take the last couple of minutes to reinforce some of the main points of our conversation and remind listeners what they should walk away with?

Umair Kahkoo:  Absolutely. So my first point, I just want to reinforce that ICM and APM are both solutions that are incredibly valuable for mid market insurance companies. Since all this data is in one place. We have an opportunity to work with them to get insights on the data and deliver business growth. So, the first point is that it's for mid-market insurance companies, it's really useful for them. And second, we can use this data to eventually deliver insights to these mid market insurance companies and help them drive business growth.

Bailey McCaffrey:  Thank you so much, Umair. You have provided really helpful information, especially for people within the insurance field. We hope that this podcast has benefited all of our listeners and understanding the role of ICM and APM in the insurance field, and especially the importance of data and analytics. So thank you for being willing to share your expertise on the show. And for having a conversation with me about some of the things that you're passionate about.

Umair Kahkoo:  Yeah, no, thank you so much for having me, Bailey. 

Bailey McCaffrey:  Yeah. If anyone listening has any follow up questions for Umair or for Canidium, please feel free to reach out to us at Or on social media, and we will get back to you very shortly. Thank you again for listening to Coffee, Commissions, and CPQ.

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