When I started  in the tech industry in the late 80’s, I used to think that we lived in dog years:  The pace in “high-tech” (a term that sounds so quaint now, doesn’t it?) was that we packed seven years’ worth of work, development, business, play, pressure—you name it—into a single year. 

Fast forward to today, and the pace of digital change—and pressure—has accelerated to pack even more change into smaller units of time.  Technologies like QR codes, Near Field Communications (NFC), photo-image capture, and now voice control are maturing. What was a mobile novelty two years ago now feels dated.  

And consider that we are addicted to mobile. As consumers, we have enthusiastically embraced mobile devices, thanks to a regular stream of flashy new interfaces and capabilities. For many people, a mobile device is the last thing they touch before going to sleep and the first thing they grab for when they wake up. The behavioral changes that these feature-dense devices have encouraged is transforming how customers engage with their insurance companies and with the extended insurance ecosystem—all while pressuring digital insurance and business technology teams, processes, and budgets.   Consider just two of the impacts that the ubiquity and proximity of mobile devices has resulted in:

  • More demanding customers. Mobile devices provide precisely tailored information in just the right context for the customer. Retailers like Wal-Mart offer mobile apps that go into “store-mode” when consumers approach, helping consumers quickly find what’s on their shopping lists, plus what’s on sale. Meanwhile, airlines like Delta offer mobile services that take the sting out of flight cancellations and missed connections with a helpful rebook button. These kinds of experiences are challenging digital insurance professionals to meet the needs of their mobile-shifted customers.
  • Shrinking time to value. Just as high-frequency traders recognized the business value in having their servers co-located with the exchanges they traded on, insurers are looking to get closer to new mobile thinking faster.  Insurance companies like AXA and Allianz have created digital incubators to identify emerging mobile technology and the start-ups that can get their innovations to market faster. And US insurers are using the free capital from a strengthening economy and two years without substantial major natural disasters to launch venture capital units that get them closer to the innovation action sooner.

In Forrester’s 2014 update of vision report of our mobile insurance strategy playbook, we took a look at how consumer experiences from industries like retail and travel were setting insurance customer expectations, and the challenges that digital insurance teams would be facing.  What kind of challenges?  For starters, escalating customer expectations, especially around simplicity and brevity; more connected stuff; and new device form factors.  And for those insurers who can’t or won’t keep up? They run the risk of being just an ingredient brand (read “assuming all the risk”) when it comes to just who’ll be the company protecting of consumer lifestyles and assets.

 Want to learn more about our vision of the insurance mobile future? Download the full report here.  Questions or comments?  Feel free to ask them here or directly via email.