Does Private Mean Secret?

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 http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-1259.pdf ). 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.

A holiday gift from Celent – Top 10 searched for terms and links to reports

A holiday gift from Celent – Top 10 searched for terms and links to reports
Last year we offered a Christmas Carol themed post summarising some thoughts on the past, present and future. This time around I figured I’d go for one of the end of year top ten style posts that pop up as folks take a moment to look back at the year. So here I present a view on the top 10 searches insurance folks made on the Celent web site. 10. Model Insurer (Click on the words to do the search) In at number 10 are explicit searches for the model insurer series of reports. We’re still working hard on this years but here’s some links to last years and the one the year before. This year we’ll be holding the Model Insurer event in Boston along with our insight and innovation day. The model insurer reports can’t be beaten for offering a view of successful investment in change and technology across the insurance industry. Also take a look at the Model Insurer Asia report and 2012 event. 9. Fraud Sadly as pressure increases on the financial system, on wallets everywhere then the propensity for fraud increases. 2011 has seen an unprecedented rise in ill-feeling towards the financial services sector as a whole so it’s no wonder that fraud is on everyone’s agenda. Look out for work by Donald Light and Nicolas Michellod in 2012 on modern fraud systems across the globe.   8. CRM or Customer Relationship Management Insurers have made great strides in moving from policy and agreement centric thinking to a more rounded view of the customer. With ever increasing ways of reaching customers and intermediaries, of simply transacting business this focus on technology to support the customer relationship is clearly still a focus. 7. Claims Clearly a key focus for any insurer, from the systems supporting claims to the latest trends in claims analysis. In 2011 Celent examined the impact social media was having on claims and how insurers are interacting with claimants. We also looked at location intelligence solutions and below are just some of the reports looking at various angles of this key function. Look out in 2012 for the XCelent reports on claims system vendors.   6. Outsourcing 2011 has seen a more pragmatic approach to outsourcing in the insurance industry globally. Strategic outsourcing is still a key tool for any large organisation and this is reflected in the term appearing in our top ten. The CIO survey series of reports (which will be refreshed in the new year) offer insight into CIO’s views on outsourcing globally.   5. Policy Administration Ah the big core system question. What was interesting to me was this wasn’t number one, still number 5 is pretty high up the list. Searches in this area were looking for advice on the core systems themselves, building a case for them as well as general trends. This year we published the 2011 reports on policy administration systems around the globe, each offering a different perspective on what’s available as well as what’s required.   4. IT Spending In at number 4 is IT Spending – how are folks splitting their hard earned currency between projects? A key question on the minds of CIOs and others. A key insight into this is offered in the CIO interview series of reports as well as our emerging technology report – aimed at identifying technology gaining interest and investment from the insurance industry – take a look.   3. Asia – or rather searches for India, China and Japan A significant number of searches were for specific countries, the three top countries were India, China and Japan. Asia is a very diverse market and there is a great deal of opportunity in the region, not only financially but also in learning how insurance problems are being solved in these very different markets. Personally, I find one of the great things about working for a global company like Celent is the breadth of view it affords.   2. Social Number two in our list is social, social media and social networks. Technology is helping people to interact and changing the way they communicate. Customers, agents and members of insurers staff all expect very different things from an organisation now in a Twitter and Facebook world than just 10 short years ago. In addition, the relationship between the insurance industry and the vendors and service providers supporting it is changing. In all this newly collected and aggregated information there lies privacy and brand-busting dragons but also great opportunity for those intrepid enough to sail the social seas.   1. Mobile I recently tried going around London for the day without my phone – it was hell! The debacle this year regarding the Blackberry outage created a wave of such feelings, although raised some counter blog posts as journalists recounted how they spent more quality time with their family without answer emails. Regardless of for better or worse, humankind has wed itself firmly to being constantly connected through mobile devices. This is a global phenomenon from geeks seeking the latest 4G android handset, executives and music lovers with their iphones or Kenyan farmers with simpler phones, mobile has changed the we communicate, interact with technology and each other and will continue to do so – the insurance industry is still feeling the impact and in many cases still leading the charge in changing peoples lives for the better through mobile technology.   So there it is, a top 10 for you. I haven’t included links to the webinars, peer networking events and other events through the year but the links to each of the search terms will provide you with those. It’s been a phenomenal year of challenges, change and interesting times. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year or indeed just a great season – depending on what you’re celebrating this Winter. We look forward to working with you in the new year and beyond. Oo, look, I wrote an end of 2011 post without mentioning the Euro crisis – oops…

Insurance and Japan

Insurance and Japan
One might naturally assume that the tragic events in northeastern Japan would also be devastating the Japanese insurance industry. By the beginning of April some 320,000 P&C claims related to the disasters had already been filed with insurers. After the Kobe earthquake of 1995, when many home and business owners discovered their policies did not cover the damage, people got in the habit of buying earthquake / tsunami insurance. So fortunately more properties were insured on 3/11 than may have been otherwise. In conversations with Japanese carriers, however, Celent has found that insurers are remarkably sanguine about the likely effect on the industry here. Firms say they have adequate reserves set aside precisely to cover an event of this magnitude, which has long been predicted. As a result, Celent expects that major Japanese insurers will continue to invest in strategic initiatives to boost competitiveness and lower costs in this very crowded market. IT spending growth at Japanese insurers, which has been close to flat for years anyway due to the maturity of the market, will suffer a modest dip in the short term. Smaller insurers are likely to put off renewal projects for a while. Pressure to merge will increase at some firms, but again the industry has seen a spate of consolidation activity in recent years already. The recent events are likely to encourage Japanese insurers to accelerate their international expansion efforts, which are already underway. Carriers have been looking abroad for growth opportunities, especially to the Asia Pacific region but further afield in the Americas and Europe as well. In Tokyo, along with the concern, there is a new competitive spirit in the air. April is the start of Japan’s fiscal year and businesses look determined to find ways to grow even as the economy is forecast to contract. The insurance industry would be no exception. For example, the past year has seen the emergence of new internet and mobile based distribution models and products, approaches which seem almost tailor-made for the post-3/11 era. Technology suppliers will want to know that amplified interest in business continuity is leading insurers to think seriously about cloud computing. The blooming sakura and early spring sunshine might be distracting me from some of the harsher realities of 21st century Japan. But certainly a little optimism is not misplaced in what is after all one of the world’s major insurance markets.

An "official" guide to writing applications for the mobile web?

An "official" guide to writing applications for the mobile web?
Mobile insurer apps have seen a great deal of press and investment in the last year, it’s about time the mobile web saw some attention too. Every insurer that Celent has spoken to about mobile apps has also invested in the mobile web – that is to say that insurers are working towards ensuring their existing web sites also work with smart phones, tablets and other portable devices. The World Wide Web Consortium, the international standards body behind other internet technologies, has published a best practices document for building applications in the mobile web. For each of the 32 best practices and the 3 additional advisory notes the document offers advice on what the best practice is and how to achieve it. Also available are a simple set of reference cards for the best practices that may be more useful to developers and of course, there is a mobile friendly version of the material as well. This document then is a must read for e-business and technology leaders in insurers and for the service providers working with them. In our recent research, we have found that the top insurers all have some sort of mobile app and that these have functionality that stretch across the full life cycle of an customer from a person looking to purchase a car or looking for information about insurance products through quoting, finding agents, buying insurance and all the way to making a claim. Many of the apps make novel use of smart phone features such as location information and the ability to store data. Since these capabilities are coming to the mobile web with the arrival of HTML5, this set of best practices can only grow in significance. The document has existed as a proposed recommendation for some time with a veritable who’s who of the Internet involved in it’s authorship. The document moved to a full recommendation on the 14th December 2010. The document can be found here: http://www.w3.org/TR/mwabp/ and the reference card here: http://www.w3.org/2010/09/MWABP/ The cheat sheet site is available here: http://www.w3.org/2009/cheatsheet/#mwbp

When did software turn into Apps?

When did software turn into Apps?
The rise of the App store and the many copies have demonstrated that there was clearly a gap in the market, but a gap in the market for what? There have been attempts at software stores similar to the app store before, Microsoft’s Store and Direct2Drive are examples of online software stores that allow the download of software. The key difference with the App store comes from three key features. Firstly the App Store and recent clones integrate a payment scheme that doesn’t require the buyer to hand over payment details. In the case of the App Store this is payment via your iTunes account, with the Android Market through Google Checkout and Research In Motion’s Blackberry App World seeks payment through the mobile phone carrier. In the case of the new Windows Phone 7 platform money is taken through an online “Zune” account. In this age of increased security concerns on the part of consumers and PCI DSS requirements on organisations and software makers – this is a key advantage to the app store. Secondly the Apps are small. In fact small is considered better by users of these markets. In a world where instant gratification is king, Apps win over heavy software downloads. In mobile environments application software is now typically downloaded direct to the device over Wi-Fi or 3G networks. Most apps are less than 10 megabytes in size, with a typical App less than 2 megabytes. Consumers no longer expect software to do everything, rather it performs a focussed, useful function well. Mobile phones are in essence a set of applications that together meet the full requirements of the consumer, although there may be multiple vendors involved and a dizzying array of apps. The final piece of the puzzle lies outside the apps and the store that sells them. Historically it has always been difficult to buy software that is guaranteed to work as it is expected. It used to be, 20 years ago, that certain word processing software only worked with certain printers. Things have improved significantly since those days but most consumers would agree purchasing or finding software for your laptop or desktop machine is a much more worrying activity than it should be. Apples system software for the iPhone, iOS, and Google’s Android platform solve these issues. There is a well defined, secure API which the Apps must adhere to. The Apps inform users of the types of activities they will undertake – before installation. The spectre of viruses and software that performs malicious activities is protected against and software can always be completely uninstalled. Perhaps most importantly though, the apps work. So, consumers can now find free and paid for software, that meets a well defined specific need and is guaranteed to work. Not only that but they don’t need to share their payment details with all the developers in order to get access to these. As a result consumers have flocked to this new way to access software, and developers have followed them. This has a number of key implications for Insurers.
  • Consumers would never have previously bought software from an insurance company where as it is almost expected that they are able to today, although most insurers offer such software for free.
  • Staff will become less tolerant of software that doesn’t work or is slow. Software that is always on, works, is functional and responsive is the new normal.
  • Staff will be accustomed to software that is sold from different vendors but that works together, perhaps laying the ground for a different kind of technology environment where staff can pick and choose software from a known list to meet their needs.
For vendors then the obvious product strategy question is clear – when will you be getting Apps? Actually this is two questions. The first is asking when your platform will have an app for iPhone, Blackberry or Android. The second is when will third party developers be able to package apps for your platform in the same way – or in a manner similar to Facebook and Salesforce. The world of software has changed forever, insurers and vendors will need to change too.