American and Canadian insurers are facing some big challenges in 2015. Customer experience expectations, their willingness to consider a growing array of new options to buy insurance, and new competitors creeping into the business of insurance are pushing traditional insurers into new digital strategies. It’s no longer a question of digital channels or “other” when it comes to the customer journey; they’re now intertwined. Digital-dependent customers are eyeing new and more digitally savvy market entrants, while demanding more control over the experience and how their personal information is used. This year, digital insurance teams are crafting agendas that satisfy their firm’s hunger for increase market share and revenue balanced with changing demographics, adaptations in response to extreme weather, and regulation that has lagged the changing realities of digital. One thing’s for sure: Insurance eBusiness teams can’t afford to wait around, but they also can’t afford to make the wrong digital decisions.
Just what are the factors propelling North American insurer agendas this year? For starters, it’s about:
Uneven economic growth in North America. The 2008 financial crisis? It’s a distant memory in much of the US, but not for all. By most measures, the US economy is thriving, driven by rising consumer demand for homes, cars, and consumer goods, and, by extension, insurance. And in oil-producing Canada the decline in gasoline prices isn’t good news: Canada is threatened with recession.
Over the past year, there has certainly been plenty of press coverage surrounding the emergence of the new “Chief Digital Officer” (CDO). And the research we published in 2013 on the CDO role does identify how some firms can potentially benefit from a CDO role working alongside the CMO and CIO. But I’m beginning to see more business-savvy CIOs follow Starbucks' ex-CIO Stephen Gillett’s example and step up to lead digital strategy and digital initiatives.
In fact, CIOs with experience in marketing and/or business-unit leadership — especially eBusiness — are well equipped to lead the future digital transformation journey in many companies. They understand business strategy; they can relate to the outside-in customer view; and they already have an enterprise perspective.
OK, so there are not many CIOs out there today with this kind of experience (my estimate is around 20%) — but this is exactly the kind of CIO that CEOs need to hire in the future.
So let’s not get too hung up on titles — what really matters is the ability to combine a deep understanding of the customer with an understanding of how digital technology will drive new sources of customer value.
That’s the focus of a new series of reports we’ve just published (see below). The reports help digital-savvy CIOs work with business leaders to create a clear vision for what it means to be a digital business and start down the path toward digital business transformation.
In 2013 I wanted to help executives understand some of the fundamental changes that are happening in business because of the digital revolution. Big names capture the attention of the media – who in the USA could have failed to hear about the collapse of Blockbuster or Borders? Who in the UK could have failed to hear of the demise of HMV? When writing about these failures, most analysts highlight the disruptive companies that put them out of business; companies like Netflix, Amazon and Apple. But I wanted to know if there was something more fundamental going on that impacts the ability of an incumbent to defend against digital disruptors. So in 2013 I set out to research digital business successes and failures in an effort to uncover the secrets of digital mastery.
I captured insights from my research in reports published in 2014. Here’s my pick of the top four you should read to gain a deeper understanding of digital business (these reports are available to existing Forrester clients, non-clients can purchase them individually or download a summary from this page):
#1 The Future Of Business Is Digital - The results of 18 months of research into what lies behind successful digital businesses were first published in March in this report. Originally published for CMOs and CEOs, the report was subsequently republished for CIOs as “Unleash your Digital Business”. This report highlights how digital business differs from traditional business; provides an overview of the customer’s dynamic ecosystems of value; and offers six strategies to help transform any business into a digital business.
Don’t you hate when a company advertises a product but fails to make it easy to find and buy?
Mad Men’s Don Draper, who, in the 1960’s could have been as likely to work in insurance as advertising (but the story would have been not nearly so interesting), would have a field day with the findings from Forrester’s just published report, “The Next Act For Usage-Based Car Insurance”, the first in a four-report series addressing the UBI landscape in the US, Canada,and Europe and the future of UBI.
Smart devices, smartphones, and smart cars are converging to create what should be a smart insurance choice for safe drivers and their insurers. The report examines American consumer interest and adoption of usage-based car insurance and the obstacles to purchase, many of which point directly to insurance eBusiness failings.
When Forrester last looked at the UBI market in 2008 (then termed “Pay As You Drive” or PAYD), consumers couldn’t get it because of a big distribution problem: It was offered by few insurers in just a few states. A couple of months ago, we decided to see just what had changed over the past five or so years when it came to consumer interest and purchase. What did we learn?
Following the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" we produced this infographic to support my keynote speech at the Technology Management Forum in Orlando (and the CMO CIO CX breakfast in Sydney). Feel free to tweet and share the unedited graphic. (Click image to download a higher res PDF; also free to share unedited).
One word describes the state of US health plan digital strategists at the end of 2013: exhausted! The October 1, 2013 open enrollment milestone for the public exchanges became not an event but an epic saga. Integration failures, wobbly deadlines, and substandard policies that became the walking dead stymied large numbers of potential plan buyers, who either gave up or stood on the sidelines. But through a lot of persistence, 8 million Americans had managed to enroll in the public exchanges by mid-April 2014.
But with the enrollment process behind them, these tired digital strategists can’t rest. It’s time to shift attention from getting customers to keeping them. And not surprisingly, what matters to consumers when it comes to picking health plans is whether their doctors are “in-network”. But other practical aspects of the health insurance experience also matter, like:
Ease of resolving problems. When it comes to handling the nit-natty issues of plan maintenance issues like claims and payments, consumers want easy. That means that health plans have to make it easy for them to view their payment history, get their individual plan bills paid, monitor claims status, and access statements and tax documents online and increasingly through a plan’s mobile site, especially for that critical “young and healthy” segment.
It's clear that digital leadership is needed to achieve the transformation to a digital business. But does a company need a single digital leader, or do all executives need to become digital leaders?
Last month I published a report on digital leadership that examined the DNA of early digital executives. From this research, we learned that all digital leaders must be able to deliver on digital competencies across three dimensions: strategic, transformational, and operational. The degree to which digital leaders need to emphasize each depends upon the organization's digital maturity (see figure).
What is clear from our research into digital business is that your business needs both the CIO and the CMO to join forces to enable the transformation to a digital business. In conjunction with Forrester's Forum For Technology Management Leaders, we'll be revealing a new piece of research on digital business in 2014. This research digs into the data to reveal that state of digital business across a range of industries — identifying who is currently leading digital initiatives. As well as delivering a keynote at the Forum based on "Unleash Your Digital Business," I'll also be presenting a track session that gets deeper into the question of digital leadership to help you answer the question of who should really lead digital business transformation.
Consumers are embracing an increasing number of devices and touchpoints to shop – this we know and at Forrester we call this the mobile mind shift. But eBusiness professionals still need to figure out the relative influence each touchpoint has on their customers’ shopping behavior in order to determine where to focus their efforts. Should you follow the likes of House of Fraser with a mobile first web presence? How do your customers use your digital presence for research pre-purchase?
Forrester’s new retail segmentation helps eBusiness executives answer these questions by providing a framework to map out the complex ecosystem of touchpoints and devices their customers use to shop. The segmentation identifies increasingly sophisticated multi-touchpoint shopping behaviors and helps eBusiness executives to identify critical touchpoints to create the most relevant shopping experiences for customers across markets.