The Great Pokemon Experiment

Nintendo's latest mobile phone (and mobile) game just keeps smashing records – it's already the biggest mobile game in the US and is looking set to become a worldwide phenomenon.

It's not relevant to insurance though is it? Well it is sort of introducing new risks with players being mugged and wandering into dangerous places including Downing Street in London apparently.

What's more interesting to me though is the mix of gamification, rewards for movement and the way it is making people meet up in novel locations.

Two opportunities sprang to mind for the industry:

  • What's most interesting to me is that if we were to measure health app's impacts by how far they get people to walk Pokemon Go could be the biggest health app of 2016, despite only launching in July. I'm curious how the Vitality and similar propositions rewarding customers for healthy behaviour will respond to the sudden uptick in activity. 
  • From an advertising point of view and ability to drive foot traffic to say, an agents office, Pokemon Go has huge potential – potential not missed on the developers as hidden code in the game already points to a hook up with McDonalds. For now though, if you have a Pokemon gym at your office location it might be a great time to do a little advertising or push that recruitment drive you've been thinking about.

As a technologist the photos springing up around the world of "Squirtle" being found in toilets (be careful where you point the camera) also goes to show how augmented reality has become mainstream as well, along with the threats AR and virtual reality could pose in at least distracted walking. I love that the digital and physical world are coming together and it's actually bringing families together too.

Whilst some will marvel at this latest craze, for those insurers with investments in the real world like agencies, offices, billboards – and for those that are agile enough – this surprise trend could serve as a great marketing route to catching all the customers, as well as all the Pokemon.

Pushing beyond apps

It struck me while I was driving this morning: First-gen mobile apps are fine, but virtually everyone is missing high-volume opportunities to engage with their customers. Allow me to back up a step. I was stuck in traffic. Not surprisingly, that gave me some time to ponder my driving experience. I found myself thinking: Why can’t I give my car’s navigation system deep personalizations to help it think the way I do? And how do I get around its singular focus on getting from Point A to Point B? I explored the system while at a red light. It had jammed me onto yet another “Fastest Route,” disguised as a parking lot. My tweaks to the system didn’t seem to help. I decided what I’d really like is a Creativity slider so I could tell my nav how far out there to be in determining my route. Suburban side streets, public transportation, going north to eventually head south, and even well-connected parking lots are all nominally on the table when I’m at the helm. So why can’t I tell my nav to think like me? I’d also like a more personal, periodic verbal update on my likely arrival time, which over the course of my trip this morning went from 38 minutes to almost twice that due to traffic. The time element is important, of course. But maybe my nav system should sense when I’m agitated (a combination of wearables and telematics would be a strong indicator) and do something to keep me from going off the deep end. Jokes? Soothing music? Directions to highly-rated nearby bakeries? Words of serenity? More configurability is required, obviously, or some really clever automated customization. Then an even more radical thought struck. Why couldn’t my nav help me navigate not only my trip but my morning as well? “Mr. Weber, you will be in heavy traffic for the next 20 minutes. Shall I read through your unopened emails for you while you wait?” Or, “Your calendar indicates that you have an appointment before your anticipated arrival time. Shall I email the participants to let them know you’re running late?” Or (perhaps if I’m not that agitated), “While you have a few minutes would you like to check your bank balances, or talk to someone about your auto insurance renewal which is due in 10 days?” What I’m describing here is a level of engagement between me and my mobile devices which is difficult to foster, for both technical and psychological reasons. And it doesn’t work if a nav system is simply a nav system that doesn’t have contextual information about the user. But imagine the benefits if the navigation company, a financial institution, and other consumer-focused firms thought through the consumer experience more holistically. By sensibly injecting themselves into consumers’ daily routines—even when those routines are stressful—companies will have a powerful connection to their customers that will be almost impossible to dislodge. Firms like Google have started down this path, but financial institutions need to push their way into the conversation as well.

Seeing claims and risks in 3D : Might HoloLens succeed where Google Glass didn’t?

There have been radical changes in user interface and computing technology over the last decade or two. The Nintendo Wii propelled a new style of gaming to the forefront and touch enabled smart devices have done wonders for Apple, Samsung and Google’s Android platform. All of this seems to have made Microsoft’s old WIMP based Windows platform less relevant, despite moves to touch enabled interfaces and Windows mobile in recent years. Perhaps now though Microsoft has found the key to the next generation interface with HoloLens. With a tip to Google Glass this is a wearable headset based system more focused on enabling the holograph interface to interact using augmented reality to undertake various tasks. Perhaps Microsoft have found the killer App Google Glass was missing? Or perhaps the high end 3D gaming style interfaces are better at capturing our imagination than the simpler, untilitarian mobile interfaces we find on todays phones…. What might this mean for the Insurance industry? The interfaces and augmentations imagined for loss adjusters and those in the field apply equally to this new technology, albeit the headset is much more intrusive. Leveraging this technology to engage with people on the ground and share a common visualisation, to direct loss engineers to the right items and help provide data about clients in catastrophe affected areas in a rich and useful manner are all possible. Augmented reality and chunky headsets aren’t new, but the experiences previewed by HoloLens have sparked the imagination of those who have seen and played with it. With the response to HoloLens being very positive so far I wonder if we will see a relaunch of Google Glass or it’s successor sooner than one might have expected. For those who are interested the technology appears to have it’s origins in big data, as this article from April last year talks about leveraging the Holograph interface for visualising large datasets.

Vendors Embrace Mobile Technology

The adoption of mobile technologies is accelerating. Smartphones rocketed from a 10% adoption rate to 40% in just two and a half years, faster than any technology except television, and tablets are moving even faster, blowing away all previous adoption standards. Carriers are increasingly turning to their software vendors to create mobile access to core functionality for employees, agents, and customers. But where are the vendors? Do all vendors have mobile applications? Are they aligned with carriers on the importance of mobile apps? What challenges do vendors face and what are their plans for the future?   I surveyed 39 vendors to provide answers to these questions as well as to understand pricing models, platform investments and their expectations of where the market is going. This report examines mobility attitudes among vendors, the status of mobile solutions, the methods and staffing models used for deployments, statistics around marketing including typical pricing models, and an assessment of the significance of the challenges vendors face as they move into the mobile market.   IT leaders at software firms clearly recognize the importance of mobility to drive their businesses forward. Almost 70% see mobility as mission critical or important to their organization today.   Today the majority of vendors do not generate revenue from mobile applications. Many are not yet charging for mobile solutions but include the product in the overall price of the software. Vendors clearly intend to change that practice. More than half expect mobile to generate 1-20% of their overall revenue within the next three years. This may be optimistic, but clearly, vendors see strong growth and market momentum for their enterprise mobility business.   However, the explosive growth in the mobile technology landscape has created unmistakable challenges for vendors entering this market. Challenges fall into three categories – those related to the technology and the devices themselves; those that relate to the organizational changes and cultural issues inherent in mobile such as obtaining staff and managing changing organizations; and challenges that are focused on market acceptance and pricing models   Increasingly, carriers are asking about mobile capabilities as part of their evaluation process when selecting new vendor solutions. Vendors looking to move into the mobility market can learn from those who have gone before them. Those who have not yet put their mobile plans together may want to begin to build a roadmap for the future.  

Consumer mobile apps in Property and Casualty: Webinar follow up

On April 16 and 17 we hosted our “Consumer Mobile Apps” webinar focusing on P&C apps availability in Latin America. We had a Spanish and an english version of the webinar. The survey behind the webinar included the review of 169 insurers, focusing on the top 10 of each market (20 countries). Before you jump to tell me that I am failing on math 101, let’s put a note here: not all countries in Latin America have 10 P&C insurers. A question that came up was about the role of brokers & insurers regarding customer -facing apps. There are at least two angles to cover this question: 1) Insurers and brokers competing to win customers/consumers 2) Insurers and brokers collaborating to win customers/consumers Our research shows that insurers and brokers are investing, with different pocket sizes, to win customers attention through apps. First thing to consider here is that consumers don’t just want an app. They want to have easy interactions. Apps are just another cog in the engine. As investment (and capacities) are needed to provide these experiences it is most likely that larger brokers will be able to play this game along with insurers. Now, when we take a look to the intermediation in insurance in Latin America, banks and retailers play an interesting role too. Consumers usually interact more with these than with brokers and insurers, so if banks and retailers decide to invest in an app that would also provide access to the financial and non-financial products the consumer has with them (i.e. credit cards, product and service offers, insurance, travel? in the case of a retailer), would the consumer be more likely to use this app instead the one provided by the insurer? More broadly, will the consumer prefer to buy the insurance through a bank, a retailer, (fill in the blanks with the distribution channel of your choice) or through the insurance company? It seems that insurers will play an important role in providing an app every time they have a direct model or by collaborating with the distribution channel that can’t manage these interactions by their own. On all other circumstances it is more likely to expect the app coming from the distribution channel that has a meaningful interaction with the customer. There are some good examples of collaboration between insurers and agents. Allied Insurance, Celent’s Model Insurer Award winner for the digital catregry this year, enabled agents to brand the insurance app. The mobile app serves as another way for Allied to extend and enhance customer service. Select agency partners dynamically brand the customer experience with their own custom logo. Customers can view policy, save insurance ID cards for offline viewing, make payments, view agency information, get accident help and roadside assistance and start a claim. Future plans include expanding the dynamic branding feature; building additional personalized digital enhancements for its agents and customers. The project from concept to full delivery took approximately eight months. They already had 22,000 downloads and more than 200 independent agency partners personalized the app with their own agency brand. The app also enabled thousands of mobile payments. It’s a perfect mix of Broker/Agent presence with the needs of the insurer. If you’re interested in learning more about effective technology use in insurance be sure to read about our Model Insurer Awards finalists and winners at Another case highlighted in the report, John Hancock’s sales tool to empower its agents (though this one is for Life insurance):
  • JH Life BriefCase: one central place to store, organize, and manage illustrations and client related information.
  • JH Marketplace: manage sales and underwriting materials, increasing speed of distribution, decreasing cost of delivery, maintaining version control for compliance.
What is the potential for mobile apps in Latin America? This was another area of interest for those attending the webinar. Latin America has surpassed 100% mobile phone penetration. On average, there are 107 mobile phones per 100 people across the region. However, this doesn’t mean everyone in Latin America has a phone or that there’s connectivity everywhere. Smartphone penetration is growing in Latin America, but adoption rates are behind more mature markets such as the US and UK. Smartphone penetration in Latin America is around 32%, though this differs significantly from country to country. Nevertheless, Brazil, for example, has more smartphone users than Germany or France. Brazil and Mexico together have more smartphones than Australia has inhabitants. Consumer behavior in Latin America should help to accelerate adoption. Increasingly, consumers are using mobile devices to access the Internet. In Mexico, for example, 80% of smartphone users access the Internet daily, almost 90% access an app daily, and 38% did not purchase something on a store as a result of a search on the smartphone. Apps are also becoming important in enabling new business and service models; providing a platform to distribute, in a cost-efficient way, insurance products that are less attractive to sell through traditional channels. Microinsurance is an example, as are e-wallet capabilities banks are making available, even in feature phones. As smartphones become more popular and inexpensive (as announced by the major phone manufacturers in the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona) this trend will accelerate and open more possibilities for financial institutions, beyond the top tier customers. Institutions operating in the insurance space such as banks, retailers and non-traditional players such as Google seem to understand this very well. Finally, from Brazil we got a question around what is it required before even starting with an app. I believe this could actually be a good title for a report! As we don’t have enough space here I would summarize in the following:
  • Understand your customer – who/how/when/why he buys from you. Customer needs to be in the center of the design. We have moved to an environment where “the user” is beyond the insurer (and IT department) control.
  • Don’t focus just on the mobility concept, most likely it will require an omni-channel strategy to deliver what they expect. Consistency and integration across channels is of vital importance.
  • Work on your processes. Simplify and adapt to new channels and customers’ expectations.
  • Invest in a core system that will be able to accommodate these processes, integration points and basically that will provide you with the flexibility to evolve in time with agility.
  • If you insist and only want to focus on mobility, assuming everything else in your company works fantastically well, then portals/websites should be part of your mobile strategy besides apps. Use responsive design so it is easier to deliver content on any device (and size of screen).
If you are interested in our research about mobile, there is a series of reports published and some more coming out soon. Also expect a couple of reports about Online insurance. If there is any specific theme you would like to see us cover, please let me know. See you around!

Celent Predictions for 2014

It’s clear that my colleagues and I see 2014 as something of a tipping point, a water shed for established and new technologies  to take hold in the insurance industry. I’ll try to summarise them succinctly here. Expect to see reports on these topics in the near future. Celent’s 2014 prediction focus on:
  • The increasing importance and evolution of digital
  • The rise of the robots, the sensor swarm and the Internet of Things
  • An eye to the basics
The first topic area is labelled digital but encompasses novel use of technology, user interfaces, evolving interaction, social interaction (enabled by technology) and ye olde customer centricity. Celent predicts vendors would market core systems as customer centric again, but this time meaning digital customer centricity. Celent expects to see core system user interfaces to acquire more social features along with a deeper investment in user interfaces leveraging voice, gesture, expression and eye movements. A specific digital UI example was the wide spread adjustment of auto damage claims (almost) entirely done through photos. In addition, gamification use for both policyholders and brokers will be adopted or increase in use for those early adopters. Celent further predicts greater investment in digital and that comprehensive digitisation projects would start to drive most of the attention and budgets of IT. The second topic I’ve called Robots and Sensors, while digital there is a significant amount of attention and specificity. The merger or evolution of the Internet with the Internet of Things accelerates with devices contributing ever more data. Celent predicts this rise of the Internet of Things or the sensor swarm, will push usage based insurance policies to other lines of business, not just telematics based auto policies that UBI is currently synonymous with. Celent further predicts that the quantified self movement and humans with sensors will in 2014 yield the first potentially disruptive business model for health insurance using this data. As an aside the increasing use of automation, robotics and AI will see broader adoption in the insurance industry. For those reading my tweets, Celent predicts 2014 will see drones used for commercial purposes. I hope we won’t have the need, but wonder if we’ll see drones rather helicopters capturing information about crisis stricken regions in 2014. The final topic I’ve called the basics. Celent predicts insurers will continue to focus heavily on improving performance of the core business – a good counterbalance to the hype around digital and a good pointer to where to focus digitisation efforts. At Celent we have noted a pragmatic interest in the cloud from insurers and we predict increasing complexity in hybrid cloud models, to the benefit of the industry. A little tongue in cheek but finally, Celent suggests that industry will finally find a business case for insurers adopting big data outside of UBI. Avid readers of the blog will be happy to see we haven’t predicted an apocalypse for 2014.   A special thanks to Jamie Macgregor, Juan Mazzini, Donald Light and Jamie Bisker for their contributions.  

Are insurers ready for the milenial and Z generation? A Latin American perspective.

At corporate level we usually conceive and refer to technology focused on the internal use and how to reach to the outside world to provide better products, have more efficient value chains and improve service.  For example insurance portals or technologies that will improve call center performance. This conception has been very useful to the insurance industry enabling evolution and innovation. Let’s take the UK insurance market for example. The auto industry started mainly as broker based but then evolved into direct insurance. It got somehow more sophisticated with the segmentation of net-worth customers. In this sense, the use of technology has been usually seen as a support to the business, but more and more it is becoming a central part of the business model for many insurers, especially for those new and disruptive players. Following the UK example, the use of telematics and “pay as you drive” and “pay how you drive” type of insurance products has lately enabled disruptive models that also integrate internet, mobile and social media to deliver products and services. These insurers recognize the fact that consumers have incorporated technology into their daily lives and that they expect from insurers the same level of engagement and user experience they have with other players in other industries such as Apple and Amazon just to mention two. Computers are everywhere, in the office, at home, in our appliances, and electronic devices; even phones are now computers, and consumers are using them to interact with people and companies by web access, e-mail or social media. Mobility is a fact that insurers need to recognize as they deploy new technology driven strategies. A usual misconception is that emerging markets are behind most mature markets in terms of internet, social media and mobile usage. You might be surprised to know that Latin America for example:
  • Had 231M internet users in December 2011 (10% of the world internet population);
  • Had 145M Facebook users in April 2012 (18% of worldwide Facebook users), and
  • Had +500M mobile connections as from March 2010 (86% of the Latin American population)
As for smartphones, clearly of more interest for deploying self service capabilities for agents and upper income consumers:
  • Brazil has more smartphone users than France or Germany
  • Brazil and Mexico together have more smartphone users than Australia has inhabitants
  • Argentina smartphone penetration (24%) is better than in Germany
Latin American countries also present above-average usage patterns in many areas:
  • 65% of Mexican smartphone users search on their phones every day, compared to 57% in the U.S.
  • 90% of Argentine smartphone users use their phones to access social networks, compared to 63% in Japan
  • 29% of Brazilian smartphone users have changed their minds about a purchase while in a store due to research conducted on their phone, compared to 15% in Canada
Mobile is changing the way Latin American consumers interact with the world…
  • 57% of Brazilian smartphone users read newspapers or magazines on their phones
  • 73% of Argentine smartphone users check email on their phones every day
  • 81% of Mexican smartphone users watch video on their phones
 …Especially when it comes to shopping
  • 26% of Mexican smartphone users have made a purchase on their mobile
  • 45% Brazilian smartphone users have purchased on their computer after researching on their mobile
  • 82% of Argentinean smartphone users have researched a product/service on their mobile
Usage data and user behavior is indicating that engaging with consumers and stakeholders through the use of internet, mobile and social media makes sense. Though, our research shows that the priorities and investments by Latin American insurers in these areas are very low. There might be some isolated efforts, but no integral approach to embrace these technologies to provide an improved customer experience which could result in growth, retention and efficiency. This seems to be the time to start acting, unless the insurance industry in the region wants to wait and see if a disruptive outsider sets the new standard. Worth the risk?

Digital Insurance and the Customer: Mind the Gap!

Let’s play Jeopardy together! If the most frequently given answer from a panel of insurance customers is “Don’t know,” what was the question?

It was: “Which UK insurer do you think is the most innovative?”

For those who think that is an exaggeration of the common opinion that the insurance industry is not innovative at all, let me tell you that the second most frequently given answer was “None.”

As Jo Hind – Industry Head, Finance at Google – explained during the first presentation of the Digital Insurance and the Customer: Mind the Gap! event Celent organized in collaboration with Google, the pace of change is accelerating. More and more people are using digital communication means to get information about financial products, including insurance policies, and among others mobile devices are getting great traction. To pave the ground for the rest of the event, Jo left the audience with simple but relevant questions to insurers: How important is mobile to the insurance business? Are insurers optimizing and planning for the four-screen world (computers, TVs, pads, and smartphones)? How can insurers engage better with their customers? Are products offered by insurers meeting consumer expectations?

When Craig Beattie followed Jo’ s final interrogations with the Celent views on the customer, Google, and UK car insurance based on research he and Catherine Stagg-Macey published recently, we – in the audience – could not anticipate that the phlegmatic British analyst would provide the audience with such an insightful and dynamic analysis of the reasons for and consequences of the changing behaviour of insurance online shoppers. After this moment of brilliance, it was time for people to take their breath and enjoy the networking break to exchange about what had just been exposed to them by Google and Celent.

The audience had opportunities to share their thoughts during the discussion panel session which ended the whole event. Ian Morgan – Industry Leader Financial Services at Google – moderated the session, which saw Jem Eskenazi – CIO of Groupama Insurances, Ollie Holden – Solution Delivery Director at LV=, Catherine Stagg-Macey – Head of EMEA Celent insurance, and Jo Hind debate about mobile and digital insurance predictions. The audience was asked to provide its opinion on these predictions before they were discussed in more detail with the panelists.

Let’s play Jeopardy again! What question related to the Celent event summarized above will result in the following answer? “Certainly.” It is: “Are insurers who were present in the audience going to view digital insurance and the customer differently from now on?”

Technology, innovation and insight in insurance

Last week we held the innovation and insight event in Boston where we discussed creative disruption and emerging technologies and their effects on the insurance industry. Since coming back to the UK a few press releases and blog posts have caught my eye that feed well into this discussion. The first is from Robert Scoble, among other things a technology commentator and blogger. His post, 2012 brings a pause in the disruption sounds contradictory to our view but a quick read of his post provides a great view of the level of change we’ve seen in the last 8 years. Think back 8 years, to the phone you had, the way you interacted with the Internet – with the TV even. In the last 8 short years we’ve seen the birth of the social web, the rise of the smart phone, of apps (and their stores and markets), of gesture based interactions (the Wii and then Kinect were launched in this timescale) and now the IPO of facebook which launched in 2004. The pause in disruption points to a lack of jaw-dropping disruptive technology at the start of 2012 and a consolidation in the industry, a refining of these hugely disruptive themes into concrete business models and a maturing therein. I have to agree. CES 2012 saw bigger TV’s, TV’s with gesture control and further merging of mobile, tablet and laptop devices. Even Apple, the great innovator, presented the iPhone 4S as something they could ship in huge numbers rather than go for massive change. One technology I would watch is 3D printers, which are still gaining ground slowly but mostly in geek and maker communities – given another decade and cheaper prices I think this will seriously disrupt insurance and retail models. For now, we may be waving phones to make payments and having screens we can bend and see through – but consumer electronic developments in the last 12 months lack the technological disruption of past years. This pause is good news for the insurance industry in that makes this the perfect time to step back, take a look at the opportunities and possibilities these great waves of change have on our business models, our products and the way we interact with customers. Insurers across the globe have already made great strides in interacting with customers through social networks and understanding how to leverage them. Insurers are also experimenting with apps, mobile and connected devices. Telematics looks set to enter the mainstream in many markets, where the question is less how should we do it but now which method. It was interesting also to see these articles regarding AXA, repositioning it’s brand as innovative within the UK, making use of social technology and games to educate businesses on the value of insurance. Perhaps not the first insurer, but the articles are indicative of recent and continued investment in this theme from the insurance industry. The recent past – whether you call that 8 years, a decade, two decades – this short time has been an incredible period of change, insurers are already disrupting their industry and Celent contends there is no better time to review how the industry can leverage adoption of emerging technologies to creatively disrupt not only their internal perceptions and process, but the entire market.

Does Private Mean Secret?

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a very interesting decision which identifies, but does not resolve, the complicated issues of privacy in the digital age (U.S. v. Jones, opinion found at ). The case deals with the use of a GPS monitoring device to gather information about a suspect. A concurring opinion issued by Justice Sotomayor foreshadows the work that will eventually need to be done regarding the privacy conundrum in the age of smartphones, blogs, and big data mining. She recognizes that, in the past, the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure has assumed “secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy.” She points out that, in today’s society, we all provide data in public exchanges of emails, social network postings, etc., when we engage in commerce, communication, or for convenience. However, her opinion is that persons providing data in this manner may not want the data used for broader purposes. The current law of the land as interpreted through past judicial decisions does not limit the use of the data if it was voluntarily (eg. not secretly) given / obtained. She, and other justices on the court, use the Jones decision to highlight the need to bring clarity to privacy issues in the digital / mobile age.

These decisions will directly impact the use of data in insurance transactions such as claims investigations and underwriting. Not being a lawyer, I cannot weigh in with an informed prediction about which way the court will rule, but my intuition is that it is going to be difficult to establish a standard of privacy that can be applied based on the intent of the person offering the information. When and where we can expect privacy is very different in this age of digital communication and I can tell that the issue will be difficult to resolve.