Forrester Research Takes Six US Mobile Auto Insurance Apps Out For A Test Drive

Ellen Carney

What We Did And Why

Insurance carriers are pulling out the stops when it comes to their mobile strategies. It’s now rarer to find an insurer that doesn’t offer at least one app plus a mobile site. But just how effective are all these mobile insurance apps and sites at meeting the needs of auto insurance customers? At the end of the summer, we decided to check out the mobile sales and service functionality that leading US auto insurers – Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, and State Farm – were offering to their customers. We reported what we learned in our just-published 2013 US Mobile Auto Insurance Functionality Rankings report.

Our approach followed these steps:

  • Define a user scenario. We defined a target persona: Ryan and his wife Nicole live in Chicago and are in the market for a new car and will need to change the vehicle on their policy. Their mobile goals are to research and apply for insurance, pay their bill, see how easy it is to file and manage claims, get help on the road, and see what other help they can get through their insurer on a mobile phone.
  • Score mobile functionality based on user criteria. Forrester’s mobile functionality benchmark methodology examines 26 individual criteria that measure how well an auto insurance app helps customers achieve their goals. Each criterion has a potential score ranging from -2 to +2.
Read more

Snapchat Rejects Facebook's $3B Bid

Julie Ask

If you believe the idiom "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," then Snapchat believes it will be worth more than $6B to a future buyer — or the public through an IPO. The service is appealing not just for the UI but also for the limited time the content is stored. That appeals to me as a middle-aged adult, let alone to a teen with poor judgement who may be applying for college or a job in a few years. We've probably all felt awkward at some point about something someone posted. 

If you believe the movie "The Social Network," Mark Zuckerberg was also advised to turn down early offers. Remember the shockwaves that rippled down the West coast when Microsoft invested $240M in the fall of 2007 for what is now a 1.6% stake or $1.36B valuation? (See Source

I am not our social media expert. I am also not our primary mobile marketing expert, though I've covered it extensively at times. This POV is from a mobile analyst who has spent a lot of time looking at social networks on mobile devices. 

Here's what we do know:

- There are about 7 billion people on earth. 

- 6 billion of them have mobile phones.

- 1 billion (and growing) of them have smartphones, with nearly 400m of those in China.

- People communicate, consume media, and transact on mobile phones — in that order.

- Mobile phones sit at the core of our social graph. We create photos and we share good times with friends. I don't often post while I am sitting at home working. I post when I am out and about doing fun things that I want to share. 

What drives a $6B+ valuation beyond pure speculation, optimism, and wishful thinking?

Read more

Glimpse Conference 2013 Takeaways: Systems Of Engagement Need Access To Personal Data

Michael Yamnitsky

We attended the recent Glimpse Conference 2013, where members of New York's tech scene came together at Bloomberg headquarters to talk about social discovery, predictive analytics, and customer engagement.

Our key takeaway from the event: small, real-time data coming from very personal apps like email, calendar, social, and other online services will fuel next-level predictive apps and services. Specifically:

•    Better insight doesn’t require more data; it needs the right data. Amassing large databases of customer profiles, purchase history, and web browser activity only goes so far, and is costing companies millions, if not billions of dollars every year. Mikael Berner from EasilyDo sees a new opportunity in better utilizing data scattered across personal email indices, calendars, social networks, and file and content repositories that directly indicate customers’ plans, interests, and motivations. 

•    Email, calendar, and location data is a goldmine for predictive analytics. Expedia or TripAdvisor can track web activities to recall a user searched for hotels last November and is likely to travel again this year, but a flight confirmation sitting in email or vacation time logged in calendar is a much stronger indicator of travel plans.

Read more

Sophisticated Online, Internet, And Mobile Banking Solutions Help Banks Differentiate And Contain Costs

Jost Hoppermann

The bank I mainly use for my daily banking needs does not offer that many examples of great customer experiences. The two reasons why my family continues to use that bank are the high number of ATMs in the area where we live and a very customer-oriented branch advisor. Our most recent interaction with that bank (but not with that advisor) delivered yet another example of “great” customer service across channels, an experience that will likely cause us to look for a new bank. The chances that this yet-to-be-determined bank can offer better cross-channel capabilities at least at some point in the future are not bad at all: Many financial services firms are evolving beyond using just a single channel to get in touch with their customers (see the figure below)

Read more

Highlights and Thoughts From Finovate Fall 2013

Peter Wannemacher

[note: this was written live last week while I was attending Finovate]

Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here attending the fancy schmancy Finovate Fall 2013 conference featuring tech solutions and innovations from – and for – the financial services industry. Here are some of the offerings and presentations that stood out for me, in the order they were presented at Finovate:

  • Kofax offers process automation software for lenders, but the big takeaway for me was their recent expansion of mobile, cross-channel, and multichannel analytics for financial providers. Focused on how customers shop for a loan, the dashboard and data are digestible and actionable. The jury’s still out, but strong analytics and easy-to-use tools can help banks improve sales in their lending lines of business.  
  • MoneyDesktop offers digital money management tools – also known as personal financial management or PFM – and their demo at Finovate continued to show their strengths: Nifty tools, clean design, and intuitive UI and UX. The question mark for banks, however, continues to be how well integrated – or better yet, embedded – the experience can/will be for end users.
Read more

Rise of the 2nd Mobile App War

Tyler Shields

Starting with the inception of the iPhone in 2007, and the invention of the app store in 2008AppleGoogleBlackBerryMicrosoft, and a slew of third-party mobile app stores have waged a battle for developers and for app downloads. The winner of the "App War" would go on to win the consumer vote and eventually make a truckload of money both in pure revenue and in an increase in value of their company stock.

All of the fighting has resulted in multiple casualties. BlackBerry couldn't keep up the pace and was eventually chopped off at the knees. Microsoft has yet to gain enough developer volume to be a real threat and will eventually reinvent itself as a new company under new leadership. Third-party app stores are distributed and nimble but really amount to nothing more than splinter groups using guerrilla tactics against the major nation states. They just can't compete in the long term.

In the United States, Google Play and Apple iTunes have become the two superpowers in the mobile app war. With exceptional mobile application uptake, these two players have come to dominate the consumer mobile space. Phones don't sell phones. . .applications sell phones, and these two players have won.

Read more

A New Microsoft Emerges. Leader Again or Still Fast-Follower?

David Johnson
Today's re-org at Microsoft comes amidst mixed success as they straddle the gap between capricious individual consumers and the cash-strapped, risk-averse needs of enterprise IT buyers who find themselves years behind the demands of their own capricious workers, who are also consumers when they go home. Windows 8 shows us that Microsoft has more learning to do about where to place those bets, but we also think their work on server, cloud and hybrid cloud is excellent, and that their longer-term strategy is viable. We see this organizational re-alignment as very positive.
 
The Server and Tools Business becomes Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group
Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie both have done a great job of driving Agile development and continuous delivery into every team in STB and that is resulting in faster moving and more compelling products and services. They deserve a lot of credit for this and so putting even more under them seems a good thing. The key is whether it is the right things.
 
For perspective: one of Microsoft's greatest strengths is that they give smart people development tools that are extremely easy to use and deceptively powerful. So much so that generations of developers will commit themselves and careers to mastery of Visual Studio, for example. Microsoft democratizes software development by lowering the barriers to entry like no other company. The shift to cloud gives them the chance to do it again, and the improvements in Visual Studio 2013 shown at BUILD in San Francisco are superb and stretch smoothly from the datacenter to the cloud.
 
Read more

Defining The Mobile Security Market

Tyler Shields
Understanding the terms and technologies in the mobile security market can be a daunting and difficult task. The mobile ecosystem is changing at a very rapid pace, causing vendors to pivot their product direction to meet the needs of the enterprise. These changes in direction are creating a merging and twisting of technology descriptions being used by sales and marketing of the vendor offerings. What we considered “Mobile Device Management” yesterday has taken on shades of containerization and virtualization today.
Mobile antivirus used to be a standalone vision but has rapidly become a piece of the mobile endpoint security market. Where do we draw the lines, and how do we clearly define the market and products that the enterprise requires to secure their mobile environment?
 
In an attempt to help the enterprise S&R professional understand the overlapping descriptions of mobile security products, I am working on new research that will help organize and quantify the market. Understanding the detailed state of each of the technology offerings in the market, and their potential impact on a five- to 10-year horizon, will help enterprises make more-educated purchasing decisions.
 
To begin the process of covering all of the technologies being offered today, I’ve divided the solutions in the space by technology type. Not only am I analyzing technologies that are available now, but I’m also researching any additional products, services, and vendors in the mobile security space that have innovative new concepts that they are bringing to bear. These new-age offerings will help shape the future of mobile security, and we need to get ahead of the concepts now if we wish to have a better understanding of the impact of the innovation.
 
 
Read more

The Data Digest: Using Mobile Devices For Taking Photos Or Video

Reineke Reitsma

With Anjali Lai

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of 16 billion pictures? According to Instagram, whose 130 million active users had shared this number of photos as of June 2013, the answer is “priceless.” Individuals’ enthusiasm for capturing and sharing photos shapes our media consumption as much as it does our co-creative potential; with the launch of its video capability, Instagram’s platform may become entwined with our social futures.

Online photo and video sharing continues to gain momentum as an emerging method of communication. Internationally, Instagram plays the role of news channel by turning local perspectives into global awareness. In fact, the role of media-sharing sharing technology is so significant that the Chicago Sun Times Newspaper laid off all full-time photographers, including a Pulitzer Prize winner, with the intention of moving toward more online video provision.

Read more

How mobility can change the economics of IT

I recently took some holiday leave and saw two small, but clear examples of where mobility changes the economics of IT. The first was in a restaurant where the wait staff used their own smartphones and a simple order taking app. There was no expensive mobile platform for the restaurant to purchase in order to use this system. There was no expensive training program in place to teach the employees how to use the software. They simply bring along their own phone, download a free app to their device and start working.

The software is intuitive enough that any training required is done by their fellow staff members during shifts. What’s interesting about this example is that using mobile devices for taking restaurant orders isn’t new – but using employees own devices is. Previously, the expense incurred by restaurants having to purchase proprietary devices meant that only high margin operations could afford to use mobile order taking systems. And loss, theft or damage of the devices was not only expensive but also proved to be a sticking point for employer/employee relations.   

The second example provides a sharp contrast. It involved a trip to a museum and the use of the audio commentary service. Though almost every visitor to the museum now has a smart phone device, an old proprietary hand held device was still in use there. This is an expensive option to operate for a low-margin business like a museum. There are now museums that have recognised this and offer apps on smart phones with capabilities well beyond what the previous dedicated hardware could provide. One such museum is the American Museum of Natural History. It not only uses the rich visual interface of the smart phone, along with the required basic audio commentary services, but it also reportedly helps the user navigate the complex campus using sophisticated wi-fi triangulation.

Read more