The Future Of Insurance Is More Mobile Than Ever

Ellen Carney

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:

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The Rapidly Changing Role Of B2B Salespeople In A Digital-First Environment

Andy Hoar

With B2B buyers rapidly shifting their behavior from researching and buying offline to researching and buying both offline and online, B2B companies are radically reshaping their channel sales strategies. Most notably, B2B sellers are shifting resources and capabilities online as well as fundamentally redefining the role of their salespeople.

Join us for the Forrester Sales Enablement Forum on March 2-3, 2015 in Phoenix to hear Forrester’s latest thinking about the future of B2B selling.  At 11:30a on March 3, we’ll be revealing first-ever research in the space about the number of B2B salespeople who will be displaced in the next several years. In addition, we'll be talking about what B2B companies must do to prepare for a global, digitally-driven, real-time buying environment where software -- as opposed to salespeople -- will dynamically set prices, personalize products and services, and process and service orders 24/7/365.  

Hope to see you there.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Commerce Platform Tech Spending Grows Unabated

Michael Yamnitsky

Behind every online sale is a set of software tools to manage the shopping experience and order process: the commerce platform.

The technology itself is nothing new. Commercial software packages for digital commerce have been around for 15 years or so. However, we’ve seen commerce-related technology investments accelerate over the past couple of years. Companies are replacing legacy systems from the early 2000s with modern platforms ready to meet the demands of mobile commerce and international sales, and the buyer pool is extending from retail to virtually every industry. 

The journey isn’t quite over. Forrester expects growth in commerce tech spending to continue unabated. According to our recent forecast, we expect the US market for commerce platform technology to nearly double over the next five years, growing from $1.2 billion in 2014 to nearly $2.1 billion by the end of the decade.

Peter Sheldon and I developed this forecast to help tech vendor clients identify and assess new market opportunities. For deeper insight into the target markets most ripe for growth, we segment spending projections by target industry (i.e., retail, wholesale, pharma) and quantify the shift from legacy (i.e., on-premises) to modern (i.e., SaaS/hosted) solutions. For more details, see the recent report we’ve published around the forecast results.

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Digital skills are the golden ticket in 2015

Martin Gill

It’s no secret that digital skills are in short supply. In fact, while some three quarters of executives tell us their firm now has some form of digital strategy (however rudimentary), a paltry 16% say they have the skills and capabilities necessary to deliver it. Even though the average eBusiness team’s staffing budget is growing year on year, finding the skills and capabilities to execute on a digital strategy is becoming harder and harder.

Our latest annual organizational and staffing backs this up. Our September 2014 Global eBusiness And Channel Strategy Professional Online Survey reveals:

  • eBusiness Teams Have An Average Of 95 Employees. The average eBusiness team has 95 team members. As would be expected, the larger the worldwide revenue, online revenue, or total employee count is, the larger the eBusiness team is.
  • Technology And Customer Experience Are Still The Hardest Roles To Fill. Technology, customer experience, and business analytics are the hardest jobs to hire for.  Additionally, technology and customer experience are the most outsourced, and technology is the most understaffed.  
  • The Digital Skills Gap Continues To Widen. Digital transformation brings an increased level of responsibility for eBusiness employees who are often leading the charge for company-wide transformation in addition to handling day-to-day operations. As all business becomes digital business, eBusiness teams will have an increasingly difficult time sourcing talent. 
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eCommerce Sales In Brazil, Mexico And Argentina Will More Than Double By 2019

Zia Daniell Wigder

Latin America remains solidly on the radar of eCommerce leaders taking their brands global—at the same time, local players are rolling out sophisticated offerings of their own to compete with the growing number of international players in the region. Which trends will propel eCommerce forward and how big will these markets be in five years? Our newly published forecast addresses both topics for the three largest markets in Latin America: Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. We find that:

Young, increasingly digital shoppers are driving eCommerce across the region... The markets of Latin America boast not just a rising middle class, but also a young, digitally savvy population. Indeed, while the average age in the US is 38, in Brazil and Argentina it’s 31 and in Mexico just 27. These young consumers are accelerating the shift to online shopping and embracing mobile just like their counterparts around the globe. Still, business leaders that are eagerly eyeing the region must bear in mind that mobile commerce is still at an early stage—it does not yet represent the same high percentage of online sales as in some Asian markets.

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Announcing Forrester’s 2015 B2C Commerce Suites Wave

Peter Sheldon

Over the past 3 days some 30,000 retail attendees from across the globe gathered in New York’s Javits Center for the annual National Retail Federation Big Show. This year there was a visible increase in both the number of commerce technology vendors exhibiting and the size of their respective booths. For the eBusiness, omni-channel, merchandising, digital and business technology teams in attendance, 2015 will represent another year of robust investment in commerce suite technology. However, retailers face a daunting task differentiating between the vendors in what is an increasingly mature solution space. As luck would have it, Forrester has just released our 2015 Commerce Suite Platforms Wave update to help you. We spent the last 4 months putting eleven of the leading commerce technology vendors through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. We looked beyond features to examine toolset usability, extensibility, integration of suite modules, and innovation strategy. Here’s what we found:

  • Demandware, hybris, IBM, and Oracle Commerce lead the pack. These four vendors represent the best of the best and reflect a solution space that has been maturing since its inception 15 years ago. These  vendors go head-to-head in almost every midmarket and enterprise commerce deal and for the buyers of these solutions, the ultimate selection decision often comes down to price, vision, and alliances more than functionality and features. When it comes to the core capabilities (such as pricing, offers, site search, promotion, carts, and checkout), these vendors all pack a heavy punch, with extensive, mature capabilities that, frankly, go beyond the needs of many of their clients.
     
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Your 2015 Mobile Insurance Resolution? Align Your Mobile Insurance Strategic Plan With Changing Market Realities

Ellen Carney

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:

  1. Identify mobile moments and context.
  2. Design the mobile engagement.
  3. Engineer processes, platforms, and people for mobile.
  4. Analyze results to monitor performance and optimize outcomes.
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Is Google Buying CoverHound? The Curious Case Of The California Insurance License

Ellen Carney

It’s one of the worst-kept—and surely most disruptive—secrets in the US insurance market.  Soon, Google could be piloting its Google Compare auto insurance comparison shopping site in the US, following the lead of  its 2012 Google Compare UK site roll out. 

But the launch of Google Compare in the US apparently hasn’t been easy.  Even though insurers have been mentioning Google overtures to participate on the comparison site to me for more than two years now, the Google Compare US site launch keeps getting pushed back.  As late as last month the site was expected to launch in California, to be followed in Q1 2015 with likely launches in  Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Last I heard was that California pilot wouldn't begin until sometime in Q1.

And one thing’s for sure:  Google Compare is going to have big implications for US insurers.  While doing the research for a report on what Google Compare is going to mean for insurer strategies in 2015, I took a look at a bunch of state insurance commission filings to see just what was up with the entity now officially doing business as Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc.  What did I learn?

  • They’re licensed to business in more than half the states.  Along with California, the entity is licensed to do business in at least Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There may be more in process.
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Marketing And Site Features In Brazil’s eCommerce Market

Zia Daniell Wigder

We just published our third and final report in the Retail eCommerce in Brazil series. We tackled key performance indicators in our first report and team headcount and priorities in our second—our third report looks at the marketing tactics employed by online retailers in Brazil and the site features they’re embracing.  All three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of 300+ online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.  

In the report, we find that:

Online retailers continue to rely heavily on core marketing tactics. Despite the bevvy of new and emerging marketing options at their disposal, eCommerce leaders continue to prioritize search and email marketing as the most effective tactics for acquiring customers. Not surprisingly, store-based online retailers find offline advertising more effective than other types of online retailers do, and web-only retailers find social networks to be a particularly good source of customer acquisition.

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If Santa Left You A Mobile Insurance App/Site Budget, Do You Know Where And How To Spend It?

Ellen Carney

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.

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