10 Considerations for Insurers – August 10, 2022.
Revised January 13, 2023.
In 2017, mobile device use for internet traffic surpassed desktop device internet traffic for the first time in the North America and the gap continues to widen.[i] Today, smartphones account for 54%, desktops/laptops for 42%, and tablets for 4% of internet traffic respectively.[ii] Tablet and desktop/laptop usage continues to decline. Adults in North America now spend 3.6 hours a day on their mobile devices as compared to 2 hours on laptops/desktops.[iii] Nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in apps rather than a browser. Smartphones have a near market saturation level of 85%, accounting for 294.15 million smartphone users in the U.S.[iv] How do these statistics affect an insurance carrier’s digital transformation effort and how should they view mobile platforms? What does this mean to the senior executives at carriers?
The business benefit driving a carrier’s mobile strategy as part of an overall digital transformation effort, may have as much impact to the top and bottom lines as key initiatives such as a new product offering or geographic expansion. Here are some of the leading drivers surrounding mobile strategies in the carrier space:
Customer preferences and changing demographics. Customers not only prefer mobile solutions, they expect them. Businesses are adopting a mobile app as primary business tool to connect with a changing demographic. Any business that’s missing a strong mobile offering is at a disadvantage.
Competitive advantage. A well-implemented mobile solution is part of digital transformation in insurance. It will provide a direct and personalized customer engagement channel to carriers. This is a much-needed feature rounding out a good omni-channel offering.
Enhanced customer experience. Customer top priorities are speed, self-service, and collaboration, according to a recent Nationwide Insurance study.[v] Key asks are 24X7 policy, billing and claims servicing. These go a long way towards fostering a feeling of community while enhancing customer experience.
Increased revenue. Real-time collaboration on mobile platforms between prospect, carrier, and agency resources will improve the quality and turnaround of new business quotes. Policy renewals and alerts may be offered on a mobile app outside of office hours, which can decrease attrition and increase customer engagement through ease of use.
Improved operational efficiency. Mobile platforms do not require carrier resources to initiate or push a mobile digital workflow. A sound mobile strategy will include key interactions/workflows in a carrier’s insurance value chain with entities such as policyholders, agencies, prospects, claimants, law firms, third party investigators, auditors, and more. Digital insurance strategy should address a ‘universal’ portal and mobile capability for key if not all entities in the insurance value chain.
Reduced process complexity. A sound mobile strategy is an opportunity to eliminate manual push and pull processes that were put into place years ago to support legacy core systems. To this day, many system vendors that sell policy, billing and claim systems haven’t addressed this industry need. A comprehensive mobile platform provides an excellent opportunity to address these gaps. Many of these process complexities may be eliminated by reducing hand-offs through mobile platform integration.
Lower data collection costs. Mobile platforms provide a unique opportunity to shift data gathering and entry effort to the originating entity. This has the effect of not only freeing up carrier resources but also providing carriers with timely data while delivering better engagement within their insurance value chain.
Lower training costs. Reduction in workflow complexity and manual handoffs help lower training costs. New carrier resources can get up to speed quickly and become productive sooner.
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the key benefits driving a carrier’s digital transformation and mobile strategy, let’s examine some considerations that will help carriers plan a mobile platform deployment.
- Business case: Building a sound business case is an important step in mobile platform deployment. This process should include identifying business drivers, key objectives and features. These should line up with the company’s strategic growth plan. While it’s not necessary to have a detailed roadmap for the next several years, the business case must address the key objectives, investment, key features, the entities in the value chain that will be served as well as the anticipated gain.
- Integration: Systems and data integration are one of the main hurdles in deploying any platform that presents a consistent user interface to the various actors in a carrier’s insurance value chain. A staged or graduated integration approach may serve carriers well. Core systems such as those available from vendors such as Guidewire, Insurity, Sapiens, Duck Creek, DXC, One Shield etc offer varying degrees of open architecture. Some are difficult to integrate with and others are a little easier, however this demonstrates a need for a deliberate and low risk approach. Such an approach will allow carriers to prove the business value of a mobile platform without committing significant IT resources up front. Once the value is established, full integration may be undertaken based on a carrier’s specific circumstances. Any open mobile platform must also provide for the capability to collect data from sensors and the internet of things from day one using real time data collection.
- Security: Security is frequently cited as weakness of mobile apps . Mobile platforms should provide enterprise class security. Data must be encrypted using industrial strength encryption standards and it must be encrypted both in transit and at rest. Extending a mobile platform to the entities in a carrier’s insurance value chain requires that a mobile platform have the capability to perform a remote wipe of carrier data on any user device.
- System of record: A system of record addresses data integrity by providing a traceable source of any information in question. For a given piece of information there must only one determining source that’s a go to for settling any operational, legal, or audit related questions. Discrepancies may occur due to timing of updates, file/data format incompatibilities, application defects and so on. Data may be duplicated in multiple application databases or may exist in multiple company repositories. Typically, the system nearest the point of entry and processing is designated the system of record. A mobile platform deployment must address this as it usually tends to be the point of data entry whether it’s the point of processing or not. This is especially relevant given the distributed systems that exist today.
- Branding, user interface, and navigation: A superior mobile strategy should provide for a secure, scalable, highly available, interoperable, and privately branded mobile platform. It’s an opportunity for a carrier to extend their technology presence further into their insurance value chain. One of the challenges in providing a mobile platform for the various entities in a carrier’s insurance value chain is the level of training and support that may be needed. Therefore, it’s imperative that the user interface and navigation be simple and straightforward. A “no-training-required” platform is best but if that is not possible, one that is easy to train and easy to use will be the next best thing.
- Collaboration: Agencies, prospects, policyholders, injured workers, law firms etc. should be able to collaborate on business functions such as a new business quotes, policy renewals, incidents, claims, billing issues and more. Collaboration should be supported by video and text calling as well as document and screen sharing with a complete audit trail. Collaboration was identified as a key ask by policyholders and agencies in a recent Nationwide Insurance study.[vi]
- Adoption, insights, and social context: Customer insights should be captured before and after mobile platform deployment. An early version may be used in a focus group–of policyholders and agencies–to solicit feedback for incorporation into the design. This will significantly improve adoption. A social context aspect for communication, suggestions and upcoming events will improve the “stickiness” factor.
- Disconnected mode: The mobile platform’s application architecture should support a disconnected mode for user features that can operate on data that does not depend upon real time retrieval from a core system. This will allow the use of many features of the mobile app in areas with low or no network coverage. A well-thought out design that supports a disconnected mode will add to usability and adoption.
- Buy versus, build: This is the classic question faced by chief information officers and business leaders. Some of the criteria involved in this decision have not changed in a long time; however mobile platforms have some unique twists. Carriers undergoing or contemplating a core policy, billing and/or claim systems upgrade or change may do well to identify and incorporate integration requirements into the current effort. This may lead to significant cost savings later during a future or concurrent mobile platform deployment.
- Quality: Mobile apps pose unique challenges for testing. There are hundreds if not thousands of devices that the mobile platform needs to support, and poor testing will negatively impact adoption rates immediately. Usage, quality tracking and automated error reporting for each feature should be built into the mobile platform from day one.
Wishing you a successful mobile deployment!
[i] “What Percentage of Internet Traffic is Mobile?” Oberlo.com, May 2022, https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/mobile-internet-traffic
[ii] What Percentage of Internet Traffic is Mobile?” Oberlo.com, May 2022, https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/mobile-internet-traffic
[iii] “Mobile Vs. Desktop Internet Usage (Latest 2022 Data), BroadbandSearch.Net, 2022, https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/mobile-desktop-internet-usage-statistics
[iv] “U.S. Smartphone Industry Statistics : Facts, Growth, Trends, and Forecasts,” Zippia.com, Jan. 30, 2022, https://www.zippia.com/advice/us-smartphone-industry-statistics/
[v] “Survey: Expectations Grow for Insurance Agents as Pandemic Persists,” Nationwide Insurance, Sept. 29, 2021, https://news.nationwide.com/092921-expectations-grow-for-agents-as-pandemic-persists/
[vi] “Survey: Expectations Grow for Insurance Agents as Pandemic Persists,” Nationwide Insurance, Sept. 29, 2021, https://news.nationwide.com/092921-expectations-grow-for-agents-as-pandemic-persists/