My colleague and INN editor-in-chief Pat Speer just published research results from of Celent that points to the difficulties insurers face in integrating multiple mobile devices and formats to enterprise systems. "Insurer staff will increasingly adopt or even buy their own devices-tablets, smart phones-and expect them to work seamlessly with internal core systems. This is similarly true for customers," says Catherine Stagg-Macey, senior analyst with Celent's insurance group and author of the report. "This raises the question of the readiness of core systems to be viewed through varied devices."
Indeed, as I recently explored in an article on mobility trends for INN, insurers will be faced with having to “pick the right horse” in deciding where to commit efforts and resources to build mobile applications—is it iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Mobile Phone, Blackberry or mobile Web?
The bottom line is that end users—employees and customers—have rising expectations about being able to connect and transact business or access information from insurers, and those carriers providing the most seamless experiences will have an advantage in their markets.
Are carriers under the gun, then, to make hard and potentially expensive choices about mobile platforms? Yes, but ... some other analysts provide a different perspective. To a large degree, consumers and end-users have actually taken a lot of the pain away from enterprises.
Novarica's Chad Hersh, for one, says that prior to the current iPhone revolution, the choices were harder, and even more expensive. “Just a couple of years ago, the assumption was, if you want your agents to run an app on a Blackberry, you needed to get them all Blackberries,” he says. “Now it's getting easy enough to develop to multiple platforms, so you can support 80% of your agents—or at least the 40-plus percent that statistically have smartphones—very easily.”
The same holds true for consumers as well as agents, Hersh says. “The thing that always held back mobile implementations was the cost for the devices and the services. This is now essentially a non-issue, because consumers and agents are already paying for this with their personal devices. So if you can support their personal devices, you get around that challenge. You no longer have to buy the devices or the connectivity. You just make an app available to agents and customers, who don't expect you to buy the stuff for them.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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