The race to digital is heating up in financial services (FS) organizations; increasingly, the engine making this happen is Agile. Why? Quite simply, it is software that makes any financial business truly digital. Organizations are therefore in a rush to become great at rapidly innovating, developing, and delivering new software products to win new clients and retain and serve existing ones.
Oliwia Berdak and I have just published twin reports — one for eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, and one for AD&D leaders — that share our findings on how FS organizations are trying to ramp up their digital innovation capabilities rapidly by leveraging Agile and other innovative models.
Our key finding comes in response to a question: Are you building a digital lab that contains great developers but is isolated from key business leaders and other technology management teams? If the answer is yes, don’t! If separate digital units pursue disruptive opportunities, they will often end up with just front-end apps or proofs of concept that are impossible to integrate and scale with same speed they were developed.
Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance. The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later. Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses. State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members. And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance. Lemonade's founders also appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens. And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!
A recent Forrester survey found that business leaders in the financial services industry (FSI) saw 34% of revenues in 2015 generated through digital products and services or products sold online. Their expectation is that this digital quotient will surge to more than half of their business by 2020, leading to a digital arms (and capabilities) race against a new breed of competitor. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon accurately sums up the new competitive dynamic when he notes that “there are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking.”
Our inaugural invitation-only summit in Singapore on Friday, April 15 will bring together an intimate group of senior executives from banks, insurance companies, and fintech firms to share Forrester’s latest FSI digital business research and facilitate a discussion with industry leaders. Our team of esteemed analysts will lead the discussion; here is a snapshot of the topics that will be presented on the morning of the summit:
Frederic Giron (Vice President and Research Director serving CIOs – Singapore): Accelerating Digital Business In Financial Services
Oliwia Berdak (Senior Analyst serving eBusiness and channel strategy professionals – London): How To Organize For Digital Financial Innovation
Randy Heffner (Vice President and Principal Analyst serving application development and delivery professionals – Dallas): APIs Take Center Stage In Financial Services
Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales. Why? Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:
Buy from. Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
Trust in. When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”. And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
Stick with. And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse: the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.
Small business is booming in the US. The US Small Business Administration declared this week as “National Small Business Week” to promote the role that small business plays in the US economy. Why should insurance companies pay close attention to the needs of small business? For starters, small businesses mean:
Big economic impact. Small business spells substantial opportunity. These small businesses comprise about 49% of private sector employment, and about 43% of private sector payrolls.[i] And as small business grow, that growth translates into the need for more insurance to cover employees, vehicles, and other liabilities.
New revenue streams. With self-driving vehicles tests planned in 30 cities by 2017, there’s trouble ahead for the industry’s cash cow, private passenger auto insurance.[ii] Small business insurance is one revenue stream that insurers can increase to counterbalance premium declines.
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.
When I started in the tech industry in the late 80’s, I used to think that we lived in dog years: The pace in “high-tech” (a term that sounds so quaint now, doesn’t it?) was that we packed seven years’ worth of work, development, business, play, pressure—you name it—into a single year.
Fast forward to today, and the pace of digital change—and pressure—has accelerated to pack even more change into smaller units of time. Technologies like QR codes, Near Field Communications (NFC), photo-image capture, and now voice control are maturing. What was a mobile novelty two years ago now feels dated.
And consider that we are addicted to mobile. As consumers, we have enthusiastically embraced mobile devices, thanks to a regular stream of flashy new interfaces and capabilities. For many people, a mobile device is the last thing they touch before going to sleep and the first thing they grab for when they wake up. The behavioral changes that these feature-dense devices have encouraged is transforming how customers engage with their insurance companies and with the extended insurance ecosystem—all while pressuring digital insurance and business technology teams, processes, and budgets. Consider just two of the impacts that the ubiquity and proximity of mobile devices has resulted in:
Like most of us, you probably made a few resolutions you’re hoping to keep in 2015—eating better, exercising regularly, and reading more. Why not add one more resolution that will help you, your company and more importantly, your customers and agents? Keep your mobile insurance strategy current with new technology; customer, employee, and partner expectations; and pressures that are coming from competitors and more importantly, non-insurance competitors. Because one thing’s for sure—the pace of change in mobile and insurance is crazy, as evidenced by all the new examples of mobile insurance innovation that we uncovered while writing our soon-to-be published update of our 2012 report, “The Future Of Insurance Is Mobile”.
Need some help in updating your mobile strategic plan? Earlier this week, we published a major update to the Strategic Plan chapter in Forrester’s Mobile Insurance Playbook. The report, “Get Mobile Insurance Strategy Right By Designing For Customers' Mobile Moments”, answers two essential questions: How do we build a strategic plan, and what should be in that strategy? It also provides a framework for the plan that encompasses four processes:
Identify mobile moments and context.
Design the mobile engagement.
Engineer processes, platforms, and people for mobile.
Analyze results to monitor performance and optimize outcomes.
With the holidays—and a whole lot of 2015 strategic planning activities—behind us, you’re probably have a few gifts you’d like to return and hopefully, a few gift cards you’d like to make use of. If you were really good last year,Santa left you the budget needed to develop or enhance that mobile insurance app or site you’ve wanted.
But how do you spend that budget so that the app or site that results doesn’t disappoint like those sea monkeys or x-ray glasses that you also once wanted?
It’s not hard to uncover this kind of disappointment in the mobile insurance marketplace: Mobile services that are little more than insurer bill boards, require too much data entry from users, and lack features that users have come to expect from banks, retailers, and airlines. To play catch- up with competitors and quell internal political concerns, many insurance eBusiness and technology management teams were put on the spot, rolling out mobile functionality without considering if it solved a problem for customers. While this approach addressed the business urgency, these hastily -built mobile insurance apps often fell short.
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.