Archives for June 2012
June 19, 2012 by Leave a Comment
Celent Research Director Donald Light This event is free to attend for Celent clients, flex-plan clients, and the media. Non-clients can attend for a fee of US$195. If you are unsure of your client status, please contact Chuck Smith at +1.617.262.3125 or email@example.com. Please click here for more information.
June 11, 2012 by 1 Comment
In this case the developer conference is Apple’s WWDC, scheduled for 10am PT today (6pm for me in the UK). There’s the usual round up of expected announcements along with a web based keynote bingo app. Why so much interest? The position of the iPhone versus Android as leading market share in smart phones is a hotly contested subject, what is clear is the iPhone continues to have a dramatic impact on the evolving mobile web. In addition emarketer has just released their estimate that there will be 53 million iPad users in the US alone by year end. It seems Apple will update the operating system on all these devices as well as refresh it’s laptop line up at least (yes, they still sell those). There have been rumours for years that Apple is set to change the world of the television, the largest screen in the house. The AppleTV products have been novelties to date that haven’t lived up to this challenge, perhaps this year Apple will announce support for Apps on the TV. In other news Windows 7 is now set to overtake Windows XP as most installed Microsoft platform, just ahead of Windows 8 being released. Windows 8 has been hailed by some as the killer for the iPad, the more popular Windows platform but designed for touch based interfaces and leveraging Microsoft’s successful Xbox system. We will have to wait until the end of the year to better understand the price point and impact. What does this mean for insurers? Well WWDC will give the world a couple of months notice of changes coming to the Apple products. Perhaps more importantly however, it is the sign that things are not slowing down. No sooner are insurers starting to comtemplate Windows 7 than 8 is out, and actually Windows 8 is targetting an entirely different platform (ARM chips and touch interfaces). Staff and customers alike will want to interact with insurance companies in the easiest, nearest method available and by this time next year that might be by speaking to the television after an advert for the insurance product has appeared – whether it’s Samsung SmartTV’s, GoogleTV, AppleTV, Zeebox, Shazam, Xbox, Kinect and Microsoft Glass – or something entirely different. The pace of change isn’t slowing and more worryingly for insurers, the pace of adoption is increasing, even in these austere times. How are you preparing your core systems for these new technologies, rolling out staff enabling software and structuring your self-service channels to accommodate these shifts? For most insurers it will be a case of wait and see what works. For the technology vendors supporting insurers research and development is likely already underway and new lines of research may commence later today.
June 4, 2012 by 3 Comments
Insurance has traditionally been known as a risk-adverse industry and thus the last to employ new technologies. This characteristic is more a comment on the old culture and way of doing business than really being risk adverse. Customers are now forcing insurers to deal with a change at a rate that is faster than they are comfortable. Customers have become a disruptive force in insurance. When I was in the enterprise architecture team in a large insurer, the business drivers always included lower TCO (with respect to IT), improved ease of doing business and business agility. However, ease of doing business was primarily focused on Independent agents, CSRs and underwriters. The actual policy holder was an afterthought to the policy process. Insurers created better UIs and in some cases enterprise portals to allow their agents, CSRs and underwriters easier access to their systems and better collaboration between these groups. While the policy holder was important, the agent was the insurance customer and the policy holder was the customer of the agent. Then insurers opened up Pandora’s Box and enabled policy holders direct access to submissions, claims and more recently self-service. The problem is that their systems were not designed for policyholder access. In addition, these customers have a level of expectations that most insurers are not ready for. Almost overnight, insurers realized that they had entered a world where the company no longer “owned their brand”, they could only manage it. Customers own the brand. Two examples show this change very dramatically. First is the well-known United Breaks Guitars YouTube incident . A customer, Dave Carroll, saw United baggage handlers damage his guitar and when he could not get satisfaction, create a creative YouTube video for the world to see. It went viral in a matter of days and by the time United was ready to fix the problem, the horse had escaped the barn. United now uses the video for training purposes. United learned the customer owned the brand the hard way and now they work hard to manage it. A friend recently told me of a Moen faucet that they had bought. They didn’t get around to actually installing it until months later and it did not work. When he called, he was told that the warranty had expired and there was nothing that they could do. He tweeted his experience and within 10 minutes, received a tweet from Moen asking him to call them to allow them to fix the problem. Within hours, a service rep was at his door with a new faucet and installed quickly. All Moen asked is that he tweet his satisfaction about the fix which he was happy to do. Moen obviously was monitoring the social network and acted quickly to manage their brand. While neither of these experiences have anything to do with insurance, they show the power of the customer. The same customer that now has and is demanding the same level of service they get from other industries. They could care less about legacy systems. They could care less about integration issues and complex environments and systems. They know what they get from other places they purchase items and expect nothing less from insurance. CIOs now state that customer experience trumps features and functions when selecting vendor systems. They are willing to go with 80% of their desired features and functions if the vendor can deliver an excellent customer experience. These statements come from two CIO panels I have recently viewed, one in insurance and one outside of insurance. The customer is turning the insurance business model on its ear. While agents, CSRs and underwriters have put up with the old status quo with small improvements, insurers that do not quickly adapt will become extinct. It has been said, the problem with insurance is dinosaurs lay dinosaur eggs. The customer ice age hit quickly. Which insurers will evolve at this new break-neck pace being demanded by the true customers and which will slowly die off?