201207 Insurance and Technology: Next Gen Mobile Strategies Table Stakes


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Article on how companies not joining in rolling out strategies for leveraging mobile technology may end up at a competitive disadvantage. Discussion of key factors associated with mobile strategies and why all companies should be looking at ways to leverage.

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201207 Insurance and Technology: Next Gen Mobile Strategies Table Stakes

  1. 1. 10 July 2012 www.insurancetech.com■ By Nathan Golia ■EARLY FIVE YEARS after thelaunchoftheiPhone,insurersunder-stand the real story isn’t that con-sumersareadaptingtosmartphones.They’ve adapted. Now carriers are working dili-gently to create development organizations thatare able to identify the rapid shifts in handsetand operating system capabilities and corre-sponding expectations among policyholders,and to deliver an experience befitting that.“Mobile has progresssed from being bleed-ing-edge,” says Steve Callahan, practice directorfor Robert E. Nolan in Dallas. “It’s moved downthe curve from early adopter and it’s startingto become a point of entry.”Leading companies have contributed to therapidly shifting market. In April, GEICO (ChevyChase, Md.; $28 billion in assets) announced anew VIN scanning feature that allows users of itssmartphoneapptoscanavehicle’swindowstick-er and get an insurance quote. Progressive (May-fieldVillage,Ohio;$4.2billioninwrittenpremium,Q1 2012) announced a similar capability in sum-mer 2011 and has since expanded it to all kindsof mobile document imaging. A year ago, thiscapability was totally off the radar — but thingslike UPC scanning in retail and mobile checkdeposit in banking changed the game quickly.“It’s not so much that insurers are rushingto follow,” says Callahan. “Often they’re alreadythinking about a capability — a set of functionsthat are being thought of as mobile-facilitated— and now the issue becomes purely one ofresource and implementation.”What’s on the Mobile Horizon?Driving the jumps in consumer expectations forthe mobile channel are rapid changes in themobile handset and operating system environ-ment. Until the launch of Apple’s App Store inJuly 2008, nothing was hotter in mobile devel-opment than mobile sites based on the wirelessaccess protocol (WAP), a type of text-based webbrowser. But once the app-purchase model hit,flip phones and WAP sites went out the windowas consumers flocked to the more customizable,richer experience provided by smartphones.So how can insurers ensure that they aren’tdeveloping today’s equivalent of a WAP site?Increasingly, carriers are working with vendorsthat have expertise in the entire mobile ecosys-tem and provide development platforms thatwork across the major mobile operating sys-tems. This leaves the coding to experts andallows the insurers’ innovation organizationsto work on coming up with new capabilities.Kony (Orlando, Fla.) and Interactive Intelli-gence (Indianapolis) are among the vendorsthat offer such a development platform. Butthey are cross-industry players. Now moreinsurance-specific vendors are targeting thedemand for single-service mobile developmentcapabilities, playing up their industry knowl-edge as a differentiator from their competitors.For example, Wyncote, Pa.-based InsuranceData Processing (IDP) recently launched theInsuraSphere Mobile Policyholder application,which it says supports “all major mobile plat-forms, including iPhone, iPad, Android smart-phones, BlackBerry, Windows and tablets.”“By historical necessity, insurance companieshave had to become app development shops,because there were no off-the-shelf applicationsthat could perform whatever function they want-ed to service,” IDP president and CEO Bob Blit-shtein says. “We have an opportunity here thatwouldsavealltheseindividualorganizationsfromhaving to go through an exhausting R&D processand support multiple [device and OS] releases.”IDP’s platform allows insurers to develop injust 30 days apps for policyholders to access andmanage their policies, bills, claims and quotes,according to Blitshtein, who says the companyisplanninganotherversionthathelpscreateappsfor distributors as well. “When you deal with anagentportal,youhavetoprovideareal-timequot-ing capability,” Blitshtein says. “That requires afurther level of sophistication. But the way ourplatform is architected, [both the policyholderand agent platforms] share components.” ■N“Mobile has ...moved downthe curve fromearly adopterand it’s startingto become apoint of entry.”—STEVE CALLAHAN,ROBERT E. NOLANIT ONLY TAKES A SHORT TIME FOR INSURERS AND VENDORS TO RAMP UPMOBILE CAPABILITIES TO KEEP PACE WITH THE COMPETITION.Next-Gen Mobile StrategiesQuickly Are Table StakesUpdate