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.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Finovate Europe. As always, it is a great way to spend two days thinking about digital financial innovation and how firms can deliver better experiences for their customers. Here are a few of my impressions from the two days:
Biometrics is becoming mainstream.We barely raise an eyebrow when shown authentication processes by firms like eBankIT, ID Mission, Jumio, Nice Systems and Wipro that use facial recognition, fingerprints or voice recognition because these technologies now seem almost commonplace. Yet the technologies are hugely impressive and far advanced on what was available or even possible a decade ago.
Future generations will pay differently. The credit card is one of the greatest financial innovations of all time. Yet, despite the various card innovations on show, I cannot rid myself of the belief that plastic cards will one day soon start to seem as quaint and outdated as cheques (and, indeed, business cards). There are many big obstacles on the path to mainstream mobile payment adoption, and payment habits take decades to change, but I don’t think the future is bright for plastic cards.
It’s not often that a new product release has the potential to reshape the way people work and play. The PC, the browser, the smartphone – all of these products fell into that category.
Microsoft’s new HoloLens has the potential to do the same. (Check out some photos from Gizmodo here -- they don't live up to the actual experience even a little bit -- and this video, which doesn't do it justice, either).
Yes, that’s a big claim. But I’m here to challenge your thinking with this assertion: Over the next few years, HoloLens will set the bar for a new type of computing experience that suffuses our jobs, our shopping experiences, our methods for learning, and how we experience media, among other life vectors. And other vendors will have to respond to this innovation in holographic, mixed reality computing.
The wild west of mobile in insurance is getting tamed. Mobile is no longer just a fun experiment—it’s now a crucial element in the customer and agent experience. We first published our mobile insurance metrics report in August of 2013. At the time, we were struck by how dependent insurers were on a single metric to prove their mobile success: Application downloads.
With 15 more months of mobile development chops under their belts, in November, we decided to take a look at how much more sophisticated mobile insurance strategists had become in their mobile performance measurement strategies. The answer? Unlike other industries where mobile metrics have grown up, insurers remain stuck in mobile adolescence. How do we know? Because topping the mobile insurance metrics list in 2014 are web traffic and app downloads. Fewer insurers are tracking metrics that measure real business outcomes like conversions and mobile revenue transactions.
Now we’ve taken a look at 2015 and predicted a dozen ways digital banking will change in the coming year.* At the center of these predictions is what Forrester calls the age of the customer: A 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers. To succeed in the age of the customer, digital bank executives must work with partners across their organizations to use business technology — which Forrester defines as technology, systems, and processes to win, serve, and retain customers — to deliver more compelling customer experiences to bank customers.
My colleagues Sophia Vargas, Michael Yamnitsky, and I have just published a new Quick Take report, "HP Announces Innovative Tools That Will Bridge Physical And Digital Worlds." Sophia and Michael have written about 3D printing for CIOs previously, and all three of us are interested in how computing and printing technologies can inform the BT Agenda of technology managers.
Fresh off of the announcement that HP will split into two publicly owned companies, one of those new entities -- HP Inc, the personal computing and printing business -- announced its vision for the future with two new products that help users cross the divide between physical and digital. The Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer represents HP's long-awaited entry into 3D printing, with disruptively improved speed and quality compared to existing market entries. The sprout desktop PC combines a 3D scanner with a touchscreen monitor, touchscreen display mat, and specialized software that allows users to scan real objects, then manipulate them easily in digital format.
In both cases, a video demonstration helps you to really grok what the product is about.
CNET posted a video tour of the Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer on Youtube:
It's never been as challenging for global companies in China as it is right now. First, we've seen a continuous stream of news about the Chinese government requiring greater regulatory governance, starting with the cybersecurity vetting of IT products that relate to national security and public interests in May. Second, leading Chinese Internet companies equipped with emerging technology, such as Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent, are engaging consumers with enriched products and services, expanding into the enterprise business via innovative business models, and extending their reach from tier-one and tier-two cities to tier-three to tier-six ones.
To gain extensive geographic and vertical coverage in the huge market that is China, vendors have had to engage with partner ecosystems for business operations. Now, it’s even more critical for multinational corporations to enable their local alliances to overcome these disruptions and achieve mutually beneficial strategic business growth. Some vendors have already started doing so, with IBM being a leading example. Its initiatives include:
Launching a strategic partnership with Yonyou. On September 13, 2014, IBM announced the start of its strategic cooperation with Yonyou during the latter's 2014 user conference. IBM will optimize DB2 with BLU Acceleration for various Yonyou products, such as NC (Yonyou’s ERP offering) and its supply chain management, customer relationship management, and human resources management products. In return, Yonyou will offer NC on top of DB2 with BLU acceleration to its customers, based on its evaluation of IBM’s product in June 2013.
More than two years ago, Westpac – a bank in New Zealand – rolled out its “Cash Tank” feature for mobile bankers. Suddenly, customers could view key information like account balances without needing to log in (needless to say, it was and is opt-in-only). This new mobile banking feature immediately made a splash and was hailed as a small-but-impressive innovation. Other banks – such as Société Générale in France and Bank of the West in the US – offer similar pre-login information features.
This led folks like me to wonder: How might digital teams at banks take pre-login information further or make it even better?
Great digital strategy is often about pushing the limits – and not just in big ways. So Citi’s recent update to its smartphone apps is noteworthy for the bank’s decision to push the idea of pre-login information even further with Citi Mobile Snapshot. Citi customers who bank via their mobile phones can view not only balances but recent transactions without the hassle of logging in.
We spoke with Andres Wolberg-Stok, Global Head of Emerging Platforms and Services who shared with us a diagram that demonstrates the evolution of its mobile banking effort before and after Citi Mobile Snapshot (see below).
With the press overhyping 3D printing, virtual reality, and Bitcoin, it’s hard for CIOs to track the startup trends impacting business today. Below are two trends we see startups and their investors focused on, and a future trend we expect to gain interest in the next 12 to 24 months that CIOs should care about.
Self-service business models disrupting industries. Startups are coming up with creative ways to reengineer cumbersome analog business processes with technology. Uber uses cloud, mobile, and analytics to recreate and bypass parts of the taxi/private car value chain. It connects customers directly to drivers, and uses data and analytics to make more efficient use of vehicle capacity. Other examples of startups developing new approaches to old industry processes include Oscar in health insurance and Simple in retail banking. What’s next? As 3D printers and connected products become more mainstream, and digital is further embedded in the physical world, we’ll see entrepreneurs apply self-service to new markets. Sols hopes to shake up orthotics by allowing customers to customize and print custom-insoles on 3D printers.
Over the past two decades, the Internet has triggered a tectonic shift in the concept of networking — one that has redefined how companies market and sell products. More recently, social media, mobile, and cloud have fundamentally changed the concept of collaboration, enabling businesses, employees, customers, and partners to continuously interact with each other to create innovative new products and services and enhance existing ones. Rising customer expectations and faster product life cycles are forcing companies to adapt to a new style of business: “the collaborative economy.” My new report outlines the core dynamics of the collaborative economy and the implications for CIOs and their business partners:
Collaboration is much more than unified communications. It’s not sufficient for the CIO to roll out a unified communications solution; technology solutions alone do not change business processes or support employees’ changing collaborative behavior — let alone alter business models. A modern collaboration strategy requires CIOs to make organizational adjustments in addition to technology planning.
Collaboration is becoming part of the corporate strategy. A modern collaboration platform is the foundation for better innovation, faster processes, and greater employee satisfaction, which lead to happier customers and new revenue opportunities. We believe that modern collaboration is part of competitive advantage — and leading CIOs must support it as part of their group strategy.