Mobilizing for Mobile

Several billion smartphones and up to 1 billion tablet devices by 2016.

by Peter Braad Olesen, VP R&D

Several billion smartphones and up to 1 billion tablet devices by 2016. Mobile devices are rapidly changing the business model of engaging with customers, selling products and services, and mobilizing the workforce.

Which strategies do you as an insurer need to develop in order to embrace our increasingly mobile future?


A pervasive trend

Over the past few years, tablets and smartphones have permeated society. New estimates suggest that by 2016 there will be several billion smartphones and up to 1 billion tablet devices in the hands of users1. This represents a phenomenal shift, which has had and will continue to have a big impact on the insurance industry. These smart mobile devices are changing the business model of engaging with customers, selling products and services, and mobilizing the workforce.

Companies in particular are leading the uptake of mobile devices; "A recent survey of 1200 IT professionals in companies under a thousand employees found that fully half of SMB companies have either already deployed tablet devices or plan to within the next six months".2

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that: "Americans increasingly are becoming their own bank tellers, loan officers, insurance adjusters, checkout clerks, restaurant order takers, citrus-crop inspectors and mall concierges"3. This willingness to take on tasks previously done by businesses offers a new engagement model, as well as possible savings that insurers need to tap into.

Insurers need two strategies for embracing mobile in order to service both end customers and insurance professionals. Both groups have differing requirements for mobile capability, which is why insurers need a double-edged strategy:

  1. Direct-to-Customer Apps: allowing your customers to engage in the sales, policy and claims process
  2. Enterprise Mobile Apps: making your workforce more mobile and more engaging Both types of apps can radically change the expectations from the workforce and customers towards insurers and the service and product offering.

Supporting modern on-the-go customers

The insurance industry has only scratched the surface of mobile. So far applications have been dominated by marketing departments and limited in terms of their content or value.

Mobile solutions have the potential to significantly improve the customer dialog while at the same time reducing costs. Improving the customer dialog and getting closer to the customer is increasingly important as insurers are required to "get up close and personal" with customers rather than interact only online or via 3rd parties, such as aggregators or brokers.

By enabling customers to interact with your insurance company via mobile devices, customers will have direct access readily available in their pocket and at the touch of their fingertips, whether it is to directly buy a policy or register a claim. Ideally, the mobile solution will be closely integrated with any channels that the customer jumps between during a sales or claims process, thereby ensuring a consistent and superior customer experience across channels.

Mobile technology allows for more personalized insurance products, which offer coverage when needed. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., for example, offers travel insurance when you enter an airport, triggered by the GPS functionality on the mobile device.4

Enterprise app = getting closer to the customer

We are seeing a trend of new process and role-specific enterprise apps arriving to most industries, including the insurance sector. According to Insurance & Technology, "insurers are deploying mobile/wireless devices and applications to improve productivity in areas such as sales/agent support and claims"5. Now is the time to utilize the benefits of mobile technology in the insurance industry.

Improved productivity is a central motivation for investing in mobile technology, but CIOs are also focused on increasing enterprise growth and attracting and retaining new customers6. Enterprise apps are an important tool for achieving these goals, e.g. when the sales agent is visiting the customer, when the claim assessor is assessing a claim, or when the underwriter is inspecting a property. If these solutions are tied to back-end systems supporting straight-through processing, this will also offer significant cost savings. It is therefore important that enterprise apps do not bring the back-office on to mobile technology but instead aim at utilizing the technology to optimize the process, data quality and customer intimacy.

Apps used by sales agents – both internal and external - should be designed to support dialogue and interaction with the customer and speed up insurance decisions and shorten sales cycles by empowering sales professionals to collaborate, quote, bind and finalize the transaction on the spot. Equally so, claims apps that enable the claims assessor to inspect, document and assess damages on-site with the customer also have the potential to transform the “moment of truth” with the customer and drive down operational cost and reduce leakage.

The challenges facing insurers

Many insurers are seeing this and are adopting and even executing mobile strategies. According to Chad Hersh of Novarica; "Mobile will become increasingly important on an accelerated curve, insurers need to keep up with an increased pace of change and develop a strategy"7.
However, insurers are faced with a number of challenges when they mobilize for mobile:

  1. Mobile Strategy: Which is more valuable for your company: providing your customers with applications, or your enterprise? Or both?
  2. Buy or Build: As an insurer you need to think about whether you want to build mobile applications in-house or with external agencies.
  3. Integrating with the back-end: To get the most out of your mobile strategy, you need to ensure integration with your back-end so that customer, policy, claims and financial data and processes can be fully leveraged.
  4. Keeping the customer in focus: Whatever strategy you come up with, make sure your end customer is at the center of your strategy, and that your mobile strategy ties in with your X-channel strategy.
  5. Design for mobile: Embrace the opportunity to boost usability and ensure you utilize the inbuilt functionality of tablets, such as camera and GPS.

Mobile transformation

Insurers need to start thinking about how to mobilize for mobile and how they will address the challenges associated with it. Will it be a purely tactical initiative with limited content inside? Or, will it be more transformational – equipping the organization and its customers with real mobile process support? Although the latter requires more IT capabilities and strategizing, the potential benefits will far outweigh the costs. The gains in terms of getting closer to customers, improving job satisfaction and driving efficiency gains will ultimately compel insurers to act and mobilize for a mobile transformation.

Contact for further information on the Mobilizing for Mobile.


4) Celent Model Insurer 2012
6) Gartner Executive Programs (January 2012)

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