Late last year I had the opportunity to spend time exploring Silicon Valley in depth which created a new-found appreciation for the form and function of innovation that comes from that singular location. The interconnectedness and leverage that has been created by having a unique combination of talent, financing, risk taking and competition is impressive. The number of companies tied to financial services looking to form innovation centers in this unique environment continues to grow.
Another observation from that tour was the rather surprising connection between technology innovation and utilization in areas focused on entertainment. The recognition that HP’s first big order fulfilled out of “The Garage” went to Walt Disney is a point well taken.
Recently I had a chance to see this point of intersection from a different perspective, this time at the Disney World complex. This is another eye opening event that has some potentially key insights for financial services purveyors. It is not a story about magical mice but rather about technology advances and adoption. Insurance carriers would be wise to take note.
As a veteran of Disney trips, I didn’t expect to be amazed in any way. I was wrong. Visiting as an adult observer with too much time on my hands (translation: no kids to manage) afforded an opportunity to watch how new technology has changed the operation of the properties and the way customers interact with them. For example, upon entering the grounds, you are given a stylish armband that looks like a high end Fitbit device. This is how you track your reservations, book special events, manage your tickets and connect with groups on the property. It is also your virtual wallet. Wherever you go, simply touch the wristband to a reader and you are magically able to proceed.
Of course the flip side of this is that Mickey (or a delegate) pretty much knows where you are all the time. As a result, workflow capabilities are optimized. Buses seem to be at the right place at the right time. Support staff placement is optimized. Wait lines are minimized. There’s a smart phone app that helps manage the experience on those moments when you need a keyboard. For anyone with a Fitbit (or equivalent) on the other wrist, the learning curve is essentially zero.
But that wasn’t even the best part. Upon entering a place where value is consumed from the wrist-wallet, such as entering a park, they have deployed two-factor authentication. In addition to reading the wristband there are fingerprint readers everywhere. Scan your wrist, read your index finger and you are “good to go”. It is smooth, clean and fast. More to the point, Disney is now training tens of thousands of new people every day on how to use the technology. They are also setting a high bar for what a good, effective, non-intrusive security experience can be like. In a word, it is “slick”.
The implications for insurance are broad and potentially represent a tipping point which also happens to coincide with the number of Millennials in the US exceeding the number of Baby Boomers for the first time. People are ever more willing to give up personal information for the promise of a better deal, an enhanced experience and better service. Holiday trips can now join Amazon shopping experiences as a place where things just seem to work well and a byproduct of it all can be targeted messaging that can affirm that “smart people like you” found value in this next call to action.
Returning to a world dominated by last century technology, and last century experiences, will increasingly seem quaint and out of touch with a new reality. The fact that they are slow and painful may seal a deal of irrelevance.
Is it any wonder that Google appears poised to move into the insurance space or that Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz sees insurance as a business that is poised for disruption? Being tripped by a tipping point can be hard to recover from. Just ask Kodak.
This blog has been reprinted with permission from Novarica.
Robert McIsaac is a principal focusing on life insurance, annuities and wealth management at Novarica.
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The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.
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