Why The Future Of Insurance Will Be Mobile And What Will It Mean For Insurance Business Models

Anybody out there who doesn't have a mobile device, raise your hand...just what I thought.

The explosion of mobile phones and apps in the everyday lives of consumers--and agents--is powering big changes in the business of insurance.  Heightened customer expectations are getting formed by the changing mobile landscape; new generations of customers; new competitors, and the ferocious pace of mobile tech-enabled innovation that is radically reshaping how customers become informed, purchase, and get service. 

In our new report, the first of Forrester's Mobile Insurance Playbook, we examine how mobile forces are driving customer expectations and how customer demands are going to influence new insurance business models.

Consider that:

  • Consumers are living La Vida Mobile.  Mobile is a pervasive element in the daily lives of insurance customers. With more mobile devices available within easy reach, US consumers are tapping into this ready convenience to research, buy, and service their financial needs, including insurance.  And how about those Millennial insurance customers?  More than one in four told us that they use mobile as their main personal financial channel. 
  • Agents are becoming proficient mobile tool users.  The tablet form factor looks almost purpose-built for the needs of agents.  From their hi-def displays to fast boot-up and super portability, agents are ardent tablet-ers, and half the agents in an informal survey at the end of last year cited mobile as one of their leading business initiatives. 
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Announcing Forrester’s 2012 B2C Commerce Suites Wave

After many, many months of analysis and hard work, we are very pleased to have published the 2012 edition of the B2C Commerce Suites report – or the artist formerly known as the “eCommerce Platform Wave”. Some high-level conclusions:

  • Investment in commerce technology & platforms remains strong. Fifty-six percent of businesses are increasing their investments in commerce technology, with 18% increasing it more than 20% in 2012 from 2011. A whopping 46% percent of companies are considering a change in their commerce platform in the next two years.
  • Interest in cross-touchpoint solutions is on the rise. The way we now need to think of eBusiness technology has fundamentally changed. No longer are businesses selecting a set of solutions and technologies to launch a site; they are now selecting technologies that can support marketing, shopping, buying, and service capabilities across a multitude of customer touchpoints. To accomplish this, today’s solutions must enable consistent core platform capabilities to manage products, orders, and customer data, integrating consistently with enterprise systems. At the same time, solutions must be open and flexible to power websites, mobile sites, applications, call center interfaces, and in-store options. This represents a significant evolution from the requirements that these solutions have needed to support in the past.
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Mobile Banking And Payment Innovation In France

Myriam Da CostaThis is a guest post from Myriam Da Costa, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.

France has been quick to embrace mobile banking. Banks like BNP Paribas and Société Générale were among the pioneers of mobile banking in Europe and since 2009, all of the big French banks have launched iPhone mobile banking apps, so most French banks now offer several forms of mobile banking. The first wave of mobile banking was about getting the basics down and offering customers functionality like balances, transaction histories and SMS alerts. The second wave now focuses on money transfers and payments.

As we wrote in our report on The State Of Mobile Banking In Europe 2012, mobile banking is the foundation for mobile payments. France's banks and mobile operators are moving fast to seize the opportunity. In the past two years there has been a wave of new mobile payment initiatives in France: Buyster, Cityzi, Kwixo, Kix and S-money.

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Burberry's Digitally Enabled Store Is Seductive, But Is It Really "Agile Commerce"?

There are a few firms that I regularly point to as agile commerce exemplars, and one of them is Burberry.

This always makes me smile because being from the north of England and growing up in a  culture dominated by shipbuilding and football (and Newcastle Brown Ale), Burberry has long been the iconic garb of the “chav.” Since many of the people who read this blog aren’t from the UK, a quick cultural diversion is probably needed here. But don’t worry - it's relevant to the Burberry story. Honest.

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Digital Disruption Will Tear Down And Rebuild Every Product In Every Industry

 

Digital disruption is forcing business leaders in every industry to rethink their strategy. Music, media, and publishing have been turned upside down. Now, non-digital products and services — from airlines to automobiles — must consider new competitors, new economics, and new customer relationships. For example, game-changing, disruptive mobile experiences and apps on platforms like Amazon.com, Apple, eBay, and Google give those firms control of consumer mobile devices and platforms, allowing them to both "tax" sales and hijack payments as well as threatening to further strangle already-squeezed margins for eBusiness professionals.

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Digital Banking Innovation In Turkey

In our research on eBusiness and channel strategy, we often come across clusters of innovation where innovation by one company in a sector causes its competitors not only to match it, but to try to leapfrog it -- resulting in a rapid cycles of innovation. Among the examples of these clusters are insurance companies in the US (Progressive, Geico and a growing number of others) and banks in Spain (Bankinter, La Caixa, BBVA and Banco Sabadell).

Another of those clusters is the retail banking market in Turkey. Last week I was in Istanbul and was able to see some of the innovations in person and meet a number of heads of eBusiness at Turkey's big banks. Turkey's banks have been quick to adopt digital technologies and achieved some world firsts for the banking industry. Here are a few examples you might like:

  • Ziraat Bank's video teller machineZiraat Bank has deployed a network of unstaffed video kiosks (see picture, right), which it calls video teller machines, that use video-conferencing to connect customers with agents in the bank’s contact centre. Customers can use the kiosks to deposit and withdraw money, buy and sell foreign exchange, pay bills, transfer money and buy bonds. The kiosks let the bank expand its network much more quickly than building conventional branches would do.
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Lessons from Toys R Us and Nordstrom

The 2012 Shop.org Annual Summit, the prestigious eCommerce confab, was held this past week in Denver.  I got the chance to emcee the event and meet the keynote speakers.  And the lineup was particularly compelling this year, with Jerry Storch, the CEO of Toys R Us and Jamie Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom Direct kicking off each of the respective days of the conference.  It was an interesting dichotomy—Jerry Storch is a notorious internet skeptic  (he was the guy who reportedly was behind Target’s, uh, questionable decision to execute eCommerce on Amazon’s platform) while Jamie Nordstrom may be the industry's biggest web evangelist.  Nordstrom is heavily focused on web growth and is investing a lot of money to the channel.  Despite their differences, there were consistent themes that surfaced nonetheless: 

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What You Can Learn From Facebook's Approach And Mistakes In Building Mobile Services

I listened to the Mark Zuckerberg interview from the  TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week. 

There were a few choice quotes (I'll paraphrase them here - these are not literally a transcription. You can find the video/audio on the TechCrunch site):

"The biggest mistake we made (with our mobile services) was relying too much on HTML5 and for too long." 

"We finally realized that a good enough mobile experience would fall short. We needed a great mobile experience. The only path to great is native on iOS and Android." 

"Our mobile users are more engaged and use our services more frequently." 

"All of our code is for mobile."

"We'll build native code for iOS and Android." (And it is building for iOS first)

"Ads can't be standalone on a sidebar in mobile. They need to be integrated into our product." 

"We reorganized. A year ago, 90% of the code check-ins were from the core mobile team. Now 90% comes from other parts of the organization." 

"We reorganized. We were in functional silos. We now have product teams (responsible for delivery)." 

"A Facebook phone doesn't make any sense." 

Some context. Certainly, Facebook is unique with it being a media-centric company and very global. It does need mobile Web to reach much of its audience - now nearing 950M. For many companies, mobile Web will continue to be a relatively low-cost, broad-reach play to get to most of the phones. Mobile Web doesn't go away, but it is not where the differentiation will happen - at least in the near term. 

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How Social, Mobile, And Tablets Are Revolutionizing Consumer Banking

Everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone wants one. Social, mobile, and tablets are creating digital banking disruption and fundamentally shaking up how banks interact with and serve their customers. The rise of the digital channels has given banks a unique opportunity to drive lower-complexity, everyday tasks to digital channels while beginning to refocus live channels to provide guidance and support for more complex, relationship-building activities. Disruption brings opportunity both for you and for the disruptors, who are faster, stronger, and sometimes even better at giving customers what they really want, more conveniently than before. Disruptors are setting the pace for customer adoption of more complex digital financial services. So the question is, how do you turn digital disruption into opportunity and fundamentally rethink how social, mobile, and tablets can transform your consumer banking experience?

On October 25, at the Forrester eBusiness & Channel Strategy Forum in Chicago, I will be exploring how social, mobile, and tablets are empowering eBusiness professionals to revolutionize the retail banking environment. In this session, I will discuss how: 

  • Few financial services companies have fully explored social media. A comparative scan of social media marketing efforts shows that few financial services firms are using social media marketing effectively compared with other industries. Financial services firms haven't been blind to their customers' adoption of social tools, but it's clear that the industry hasn't fully embraced social technologies either.
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The Business Case For Personal Financial Management

Back in November 2006, a startup called Wesabe first showed the potential of online money management. Packaged personal financial management (PFM) software for PCs like Intuit's Quicken had existed for years, but Wesabe, Mint.com and a handful of other startups showed the value of using customer data, and community, to help people understand their finances better.

Since then, hundreds of banks, credit unions, wealth management firms, and other companies have launched a range of spending categorization, budgeting, peer group comparisons, and other money management features for their customers.* The leaders are increasingly making money management available in mobile and tablet apps, as well as on their websites. Fuelled by the poor state of many of the world's developed economies and growing use of digital channels, customer interest in online money management is substantial, as my colleague Reineke Reitsma wrote on her blog a few months ago.

Yet despite the growing number of firms that already offer money management, and the evident interest of some customers, many financial services eBusiness executives still question whether the business case adds up. Our new report on The Business Case For Personal Financial Management addresses that question. Here's what we found:

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