Tag: SMAC

Mobility in the Insurance Industry: Insurers Move on, Customers Get their Groove on | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

While insurers have traditionally been slow with technology adoption, they’re now jumping on the mobility bandwagon, leaving no stones unturned in devising their mobility strategies.

So what has made mobility adoption a non-negotiable choice for insurers? They’ve realized that investments in mobility are essential for keeping pace with competitors and meeting the demands of an increasingly mobile “Facebook generation,” and that mobile offers unique benefits over the traditional brick and mortar, or even online, engagement models.

Following are some innovative uses of mobility in insurance and how they are transforming the industry:

  1. Usage based insurance (UBI) through telematics: Telematics allows a sensor installed in a user’s automobile to transmit real-time information about his or her driving behavior to the insurance provider. The insured individual is rewarded for good driving through reduced premiums, discount vouchers, etc. And as the practice encourages safer driving, insurers pay out on fewer accident claims. This win-win situation for both the parties is significantly altering the auto insurance landscape.
  2. More effective claims processing: P&C insurers are investing in native apps that can be used for claims reporting. In one form, the insured individual can take a picture of damaged property and post it via the app to initiate the claims process. In another form, inventory management apps allow the consumer to take photos of belongings and catalog all with the product price and purchase date, which can be used for claims processing in case of accidental damage or theft.
  3. Better customer service and support: Many insurance providers today provide “Mobile Live Chat” functionality to enable better connectivity between the insured and the insurer, and a “when I want it, where I want it” experience for the customer.
  4. Sales force automation through enterprise mobility deployment: Most insurers have armed their sales force with tablet/mobile-based solutions that provide real-time access to carrier systems. These enable agents a convenient way to showcase their offerings to prospects, and to readily adapt per unique client needs. Further, team managers can use mobile-based performance dashboards to monitor and optimize sales performance and make commission payments to agents.

To support insurance companies’ needs for industry-specific solutions and enablers, leading service providers are investing in development of a wide range of mobility solutions. While telematics and UBI are broad areas of investment, key insurance functions in which providers are investing are sales, claims and account management. The graphic below illustrates select major investments by service providers:

Insurance Mobility Investments

To gain additional insights and perspectives on leverage of mobility, key mobility initiatives by leading insurance firms, and questions key stakeholders must have answers to, read Everest Group’s IT Outsourcing in Insurance – Annual Report 2013: SMAC is the Panacea for all Insurance Industry Problems, and IT Outsourcing in Insurance – Service Provider Landscape with PEAK Matrix™ Assessment 2013. So, will insurance customers of the future use mobile as their primary interaction channel? Our research and current industry trends certainly bode so!

KISS Your Mobile Apps | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

“We want to create comprehensive mobile apps that mirror the functionality of traditional applications.” Every time I hear an organization say that, I think about a mobile application or strategy that is fast forwarding toward a grand failure.

Why? There is a simple answer. No one wants, or can actually use, a mobile app that is like that. Traditional applications have so many features and complexities that, if “mobilized,” will significantly degrade the overall design, code quality, user interfaces, and user experience. These applications typically offer many functionalities that consumers are neither aware of nor use.  Unfortunately, the market is fast approaching a state of “fat client native mobile apps” in which we could see a further divergence of users’ core requirements and developers’ fanciful creations. Indeed, even in the typical mobile apps that connect to a cloud or hosted application, developers are unable to grasp the real requirements of the end-user.

The reality is that mobile applications must have their sanity intact and offer functionalities that users will actually consume.

While designing mobile applications, developers and architects need to remove their traditional approach and segregate the functionalities into “must-have,” “should-have,” “good-to-have,” and “may-have.” But they must always keep top of mind that a must-have functionality for traditional access could be a “may-have” for mobile devices. Therefore, they need to see the application landscape through a different lens before deciding which functionalities should fall under which bracket. It goes without saying that this exercise must be performed from an end-user perspective.

Given that mobile apps is still a growing area with lots of yet to be answered questions, organizations need to be careful in adopting a mobile application strategy. It should, at bare minimum, address the following:

  • Relevant functionalities: Only the core features of an application should be available on its mobile avatar (at least to begin with). Once end-users are comfortable and there is an increase in demand for more functionality, newer features may be added. Moreover, the definition of “core features” on mobile may be very different than that for the desktops
  • Minimum learning curve: End-users need to comprehend, appreciate, and start liking a mobile application in a very short time (say two-five minutes). Beyond that, the chances of them looking at it again are very low

Successful mobile applications

  • Functioning features: When a mobile application is dependent on another system, data connectivity to the systems must be functional or performance will be hindered and the user experience spoiled
  • Easy to use: While this is an old horse in application development, the importance of ease of usage increases manifold with mobile platforms. Developers should focus not only on different mobile OSs, form factors, etc., but also on the intuitiveness of the interfaces and easy availability of key features (e.g., search).

While all the above may appear to be very generic and obvious, it’s not…believe me. I am seeing various buyer organizations struggling with evangelizing the adoption of, and technology provider’s inability to create, meaningful mobile apps. And in the meantime, they’re investing millions of dollars that are not delivering the returns.

Therefore, the crux of a successful enterprise mobile apps strategy is to KISS it…or, Keep it Simple and Sane!

Social Network Platforms: A Missing Link in Global Delivery Models | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Put aside for a moment the growing noise about social networking being the next bubble, as users are flooding to social networks like there’s no tomorrow, and both corporations and non-profits are jumping on the bandwagon at a dizzying rate to build brand and interact with customers and targets. What’s surprising to us is that although global service providers have invested heavily in creating well distributed global delivery models, they have largely neglected social networking’s capabilities to improve and augment this delivery model. Rather than building out valuable social network or collaboration platforms, they instead have continued to invest in knowledge repositories and Q&A forums for answering queries, mostly technical in nature.

Everest Group’s just completed research report analyzed the key challenges with today’s global delivery networks, and evaluated the role a well designed social network can play to address these challenges. Key global delivery network challenges include:

  1. Project delivery: The distributed nature of a global delivery model makes the difficult task of project delivery even more challenging (e.g., decision-making, accountability, inconsistent practices, coordination, and collaboration costs).
  2. Staffing: Service delivery managers cite staffing as their biggest challenge. They believe that the needed resources are available in the system, but identifying and on-boarding required staff members in a reliable time frame are a critical challenge in a distributed delivery model.
  3. Communication overload: Efficient global delivery requires finely-detailed process, methods, documentation, and communication. While this is of course advantageous to clients, it creates tremendous overhead for the provider.
  4. Training: As the churn rate is high, service providers keep on hiring new talent, but all new hires require basic training to become productive.
  5. Knowledge sharing: There is a plethora of knowledge available within providers’ systems across service lines. Yet, apart from the typical Q&A forums, little investment has been made to enable tapping this vast source of knowledge during a project life cycle.

To address these challenges, service providers need to revamp their existing silo based social networks and enable them for global delivery. Indeed, a social network can have positive impact on delivery management, staffing, communication, training, and knowledge sharing.

Internal social platforms of service providers

The crux of this next generation platform is its integration across different global delivery management and other systems to support staffing, skills training, unified communication, and project management. Service providers can even extend these platforms to their strategic clients, enabling improved project governance, a partnership model, reduced management overhead, and co-creation of IP.

Our research suggests use of an Integrated, Tracked, Cool, Holistic (ITCH) framework to create next generation social platforms that can seamlessly integrate with global delivery systems and enhance the delivery of services.

Bottom line is that those service providers that transform their stand-alone and silo-based social platforms to enable them for global delivery of services will be the winners in the game.

To learn more about social networking and global services delivery, download the report Social Networks for Global Delivery – Get that ITCH.

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