Smart phones such as iPhones, Blackberries, Windows Phones and now Android phones are revolutionizing the way we use the internet. According to Gartner Research, mobile phones are set to overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide by 2013 (http://www.gartner.com/resId=1268513). It is no wonder therefore, that many of our insurance clients are looking out for applications to exploit the mobile phone revolution.
Their key question usually is where to begin? What to develop and how? Do we develop apps for Claims reporting to record Auto Insurance FNOLs? Do we provide our agents with premium calculators? Shall we provide apps for clients to view policy status, pay premium online etc?
To get you started, we give below a few key factors to consider when evolving your insurance mobile services strategy.
Wide acceptance and ease of use by potential users: You need to prioritize apps that would help the largest number of users or customers. Within these, prefer those which are easy to use and which help these users get a business benefit easily. If your analysis indicates that out of the potential apps that can be built, an office/agent location finding app would benefit most of your agents, customers and other business partners, build that first. If you feel that there is a greater demand for an app to record FNOLs from accident sites then move it up your list of priorities.
Real time integration with back-end systems: If you were to develop an insurance renewal payment app, you would realize that users are more likely to use it if they get real time responses to their transactions. Immediate confirmations would certainly reduce their anxiety about the success of their transaction and increase the acceptability of your application. Real time integration may appear to be a daunting requirement for carriers with complex systems. But it can be achieved by use of web services to expose the required data/functionality real-time to your mobile application.
Mobile platforms: Your app should function on the platform which is most likely to be available to your target audience. If your users have iPhones or iPads, you need to develop apps on the iOS platform. Do bear in mind that this is a single vendor platform. All applications developed for this platform must be cleared by Apple before being it is made available on the AppStore which is the sole distribution channel for iPhone touch applications. On the other hand if your users have a number of devices supplied by different vendors, consider developing the app on a multivendor platform like Symbian, Android, or Windows Mobile. The Android OS is an attractive choice because it is fast gaining popularity and because its development tools are free.
Though every carrier may have its own way of looking at things, the baseline strategy for all of them would of course always be to “do what the business demands”. Do let us have your thoughts on the subject.