Ovum's Barry Rabkin, the consultancy's go-to insurance analyst, recently posted a review of Applied Systems’ recently released MobileProducer app, but his analysis provides some important pointers about tablets and iPads across the board. As Rabkin put it: “P&C insurance companies and agencies should work on the theory that tablets are the 'new laptops' and provide producers with similar on-the-go tablet capabilities quickly.”
Indeed, when tablet computers are affixed to a keyboard, they are indistinguishable from laptops, taking on the same form factor. And the smaller netbooks that first hit the market a few years back are definitely just as easy to cart around. But are there real distinctions beyond form factor?
In terms of pricing, tablets and laptops are actually comparable. The main differences are the tablet's touchscreen capabilities, as well as its more versatile environment for lightweight, ready-to-run-at-the-touch-of-a-finger apps. Tablets provide quick access to huge, online app stores full of thousands of downloadable apps and services.
All that is needed to level the playing field between tablets and laptops, then, are more enterprise apps that serve the needs of insurance carriers. And they are on the way, Rabkin notes. He observes, for example, that the MobileProducer tablet app “currently provides customer information such as customer contacts, certificates, policies, vehicles, drivers, equipment, property, watercraft and schedules, supported by the built-in capabilities of an Apple iPad or Android tablet.”
There are still missing pieces, however. “A best-of-class producer tablet solution must ultimately enable producers to access information from both agency and insurance companies, so risk management discussions can incorporate quotes and policies from all relevant sources,” Rabkin states, speculating that a number of industry vendors are doing just that. “Ovum would not be surprised if Vertafore, CSC, or Salesforce were not preparing similar mobile tablet capabilities for P&C insurance producers,” he writes.
Of course, in the end, don’t worry too much about devices and which ones have what bells and whistles. Go with what best serves the user community, and adapt to what their requirements. It may be tablets, it may be laptops, it may eventually be something else—just make sure your back-end is flexible enough to accommodate any device.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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