The fifth trend we look at in our continuing blog series about the Accenture Technology Vision 2014 for Insurance is “the business of applications”—a move towards simpler, more modular and analytics-enabled apps. This trend sees the complex and monolithic enterprise applications of the past give way to the kinds of low-cost, accessible, and often intelligent apps consumers use every day on their mobile devices.
In insurance and other industries, such apps are being rolled out to internal workforces as well as being made available to customers, agents, and other parties. As my colleague John Cusano points out in a recent video blog, some leading insurers are already using mobile apps to interact and transact with customers at scale, in a personalized manner and in ways that add value to the customer’s life.
The flexibility and power of these apps is revealed when they’re combined and connected in ways that create customized and connected app ecosystems capable of handling larger business tasks. Suddenly, insurers have the ability to rapidly iterate business processes and user experiences by reusing and reorganizing small pieces of functionality—giving them the flexibility to deliver new products and services at unprecedented speeds in response to market opportunities and customer needs.
Even more exciting is the potential that lies in packaging insurance apps and services with those from partner and provider ecosystems. Now, insurers can position themselves to draw on data and services from multiple sources to provide a customer or agent with a single-screen solution for risk advice, risk cover and complementary services.
One example is Allianz’s Ma Sécurité—a free mobile application providing information to protect people from major natural and technological risks. It leverages data supplied by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, in partnership with the Department of Prevention to provide a simple service to customers.
Another example from Japan hints both at how organizations from outside insurance could leverage apps to attack insurers’ traditional markets as well as how apps could empower insurers to reach new customer bases and use new distribution channels.
Japan Post Co. uses apps on Force.com’s platform to streamline business planning and compete in new markets. The organization created 15 custom apps to sell services and products from three companies as a retail outlet: Japan Post Bank, Japan Post Insurance, and Japan Post Service.
In future, insurers could even open the application programming interfaces (APIs) for their apps to third parties in the ways that many technology companies already do. Such third-parties could enrich insurers’ apps with features and services which the insurance provider has not even thought of.
We foresee that the ability to rapidly develop, or partner to create and launch new applications in today’s turbulent markets will be a key competency for tomorrow’s digital insurers. Getting it right, however, will demand that insurers make sure they have the right enabling technology in place—particularly middleware infrastructure.
In addition, IT must start opening up the systems, tools, and processes to allow business users to drive app initiatives forward themselves. IT, in other words, must empower the business to experiment, innovate, and drive its strategies. Business will be more aware of technology and its opportunities, and IT will need a better understanding of the strategic business imperatives that the technology will drive.