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.
Much has been written about Google’s foray into the wireless service provider arena. Now Google has announced its push into this market with its Project Fi offering, which is based on the mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) business model.
There is nothing revolutionary about Google’s wireless offering. Rather than acting as a market disruptor, Google has opted to enter the wireless market by launching a package similar to the one that Republic Wireless has provided in the US since 2011. So why should anyone pay attention to Google Fi? Because Google is a very large and powerful player in the mobile market. My main observations are that Fi is:
Unlikely to disrupt pricing in the US wireless market significantly. Google Fi's pricing is a fixed $20 unlimited talk/text plan plus $10 per GB of data, plus tax; a 3GB data package will cost users about $55 per month. Interestingly, users don't pay for data that they don't use, and many Fi users will not use their full data packages: For instance, the average Republic Wireless user pays only $7.50 to $8 per month for data. Still, for penny pinchers, pure Wi-Fi plans are much cheaper. The most attractive part of the deal is the roaming aspect – but only for overseas travelers.
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.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) was a real marathon: According to my wearable gadget, I walked 70,278 steps, or 53.7 km, in four days. So was it worth it apart from the workout?
MWC was certainly busy; it attracted more than 90,000 attendees, including about 50,000 C-level executives (of whom 4,500 were CEOs) — making it the largest MWC event to date. While MWC does not attempt to cater to CIOs’ requirements — only about one-third of the attendees come from outside the technology sector, mostly from government, financial institutions, and media and advertising firms — the event deals with all the critical topics that CIOs will have to address in the years ahead.
This year’s MWC focused on innovation, which is arguably the single most important business priority to ensure business survival in a rapidly changing marketplace. As a business enabler, every CIO must meet the expectation of today’s business customer that he can get what he wants in his immediate context and moment of need. MWC highlighted that:
Mobile is critical to provide a great user experience. Therefore, mobile is becoming a critical factor for CIOs in driving product, service, and process innovation and enhancing customer and employee engagement.
Consumerization is redefining enterprise mobility. At MWC we saw more and more vendors targeting the mobile mind shift taking place in the business segment. This is reflected in the shift of most mobile business solutions away from traditional sales and field force automation toward delivering mobile moments.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is “the” event in mobile. It is the event where Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Sony, Microsoft, LG … well, really everyone (but Apple) will launch new mobile phones, tablets, and wearables. And, yes big-screened mobile phones are still “in.” I’m more likely to buy a leather jacket with bigger pockets or a larger purse than to buy a smaller phone.
Thousands flock to Barcelona annually to hold these devices in their hands. Words too often fall short in describing the feeling of holding the next Samsung device in your hand or the emotions of delight and bewilderment when you turn the device on.
The question then is: “So what? What does it mean for my company?”
Black Friday has been a constant feature in the postmortem of the 2014 UK holiday sales season. It has gradually extended its influence across the Atlantic over the years; despite having no cultural significance outside of the US (Black Friday is a sales day that traditionally follows the US Thanksgiving holiday). Retailers in France, Germany and Spain tested the waters with Black Friday promotions in 2014. But it was in the UK where Black Friday sales surged to new heights.
UK retailers who embraced Black Friday reported massive sales uplift on the day. Department store House of Fraser recorded a 125% increase in year on year sales while Very.co.uk saw orders jump 134% compared to Black Friday 2013.Yet, for most, this uplift did not translate to an overall sales increase or the holiday season.
Black Friday Has Changes The Cadence Of Holiday Sales. Black Friday has arrived in the UK with a bang, but for most eBusiness executives it hasn’t driven a massive sales uplift. Instead, it’s pulled customer purchasing forward in the holiday season, leaving like-for-like sales reasonably static.
On one level, IBM’s new z13, announced last Wednesday in New York, is exactly what the mainframe world has been expecting for the last two and a half years – more capacity (a big boost this time around – triple the main memory, more and faster cores, more I/O ports, etc.), a modest boost in price performance, and a very sexy cabinet design (I know it’s not really a major evaluation factor, but I think IBM’s industrial design for its system enclosures for Flex System, Power and the z System is absolutely gorgeous, should be in the MOMA*). IBM indeed delivered against these expectations, plus more. In this case a lot more.
In addition to the required upgrades to fuel the normal mainframe upgrade cycle and its reasonably predictable revenue, IBM has made a bold but rational repositioning of the mainframe as a core platform for the workloads generated by mobile transactions, the most rapidly growing workload across all sectors of the global economy. What makes this positioning rational as opposed to a pipe-dream for IBM is an underlying pattern common to many of these transactions – at some point they access data generated by and stored on a mainframe. By enhancing the economics of the increasingly Linux-centric processing chain that occurs before the call for the mainframe data, IBM hopes to foster the migration of these workloads to the mainframe where its access to the resident data will be more efficient, benefitting from inherently lower latency for data access as well as from access to embedded high-value functions such as accelerators for inline analytics. In essence, IBM hopes to shift the center of gravity for mobile processing toward the mainframe and away from distributed x86 Linux systems that they no longer manufacture.
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.