Insurance Just a Fingertip Away: Mobility Strategies for Insurers

One billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016. Business spending on mobile projects will grow 100 percent by 20151. What are you waiting for?

Achieving customer centricity in an evolving industry.
Today’s insurance landscape is very different from that of the past, and it will continue to evolve due to increased competitive pressures and shifting customer demands. As new competitors emerge, insurers are left vying for a smaller pool of policyholders. Furthermore, the emergence of non-traditional insurance competitors means thinking outside the box to respond to rivalry. To compete effectively, insurers need to address customers’—and agents’—evolving needs and demands. Given the growing percentage of time people spend online—according to a KBM Group study, as high as 95 percent for millennials—social and mobile technology investments will be an important strategy for both customers and agents.

Developing a mobile application strategy can be challenging.
Insurance executives increasingly understand that mobile applications influence buying decisions, as the percentage of companies that either do not have a strategy or are just at the early stages of defining their mobile strategies has dropped from 57 percent to 31 percent between Q3 2010 and Q4 20112.

But while insurers are beginning to understand the importance of the mobile channel, the mobile experience they present customers today continues to miss the target. Only four of 10 customers who have used the mobile channel in the past year report that they were satisfied with their mobile experience3. One of the primary reasons insurers struggle to develop effective mobile applications is because these applications require a new way of thinking. When developing a mobile application, development teams need to ask, “How would a customer want to interact with our organization at specific moments of action?”

Designing and building an enterprise strategy and infrastructure for maintaining and growing mobile applications long-term can be challenging. An insurer must segment target customers and identify which mobile services to provide on which platforms (e.g., Apple vs. Android) and devices (e.g., phones vs. tablets) to each of its targets. Another critical decision involves the type of mobile application (e.g., native or web-based) to build. A mobile web application may provide the greatest reach across devices and platforms; however, mobile web applications don’t work when users are offline, they can’t be distributed via App Stores, and they can’t take advantage of all native device features (e.g., camera, push notifications, etc.)—factors that can affect user experience and application effectiveness.

Key considerations include your target audience, desired application features, and timeline/budget, and internal IT mobile application development skills, as well as:

  • Security, including protection from viruses/malware, operation on open Wi-Fi networks, user authentication, and data storage
  • Interoperability with back-end systems
  • Customization requirements
  • Scalability of both production environments and back-end systems

Get started by testing the water.
One approach that can help you gain speed to market is to test the water with a few concepts and understand the effort required to exploit the mobile channel effectively—while preparing for full immersion. Starting with a high-level strategy enables you to deploy an application to assess customer response, development difficulty, etc.—for example, an app for retrieving ID cards or providing location-based services such as identifying the nearest tow service or glass repair facility—that helps you refine your longer-term approach. This strategy requires doing a few key things early in the process:

  • Involving stakeholders, including agents
  • Segmenting and prioritizing customers based on trends and usage patterns
  • Identifying specific features that will support the functionality necessary for a strong user experience
  • Determining the changes necessary to interface legacy systems with mobile applications

Trends indicate the use of mobile applications will continue to rise in the coming years—increasing the pressure to act quickly. By developing a clear mobile strategy, your company can move one step closer to realizing its mobile vision.

This article is excerpted from a longer white paper - Insurance Imperative: Mobility Strategies for Insurers. For more information, please contact Cindy De Armond at cdearmond@WestMonroePartners.com 312-846-9938.

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1Schadler, T., & McCarthy, J. C. (2012). Mobile Is The New Face Of. Forrester.

2Ask, J. A., & Husson, T. (2012). 2012 Mobile Trends For eBusiness. Forrester.

3Mitchell, C. (2009). Seizing Insurance's Mobile Opportunity. Forrester.

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