Soon, it seems, virtually everyone on the planet will have at least one mobile device.
Depending on whose research you are looking at, the figures vary. They do agree on one thing: the number of mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and, increasingly, communication devices in vehicles) is growing at an unprecedented rate. The presentation I am currently looking at predicts that there will be some 10 billion of these devices in 2020.
We don’t need research to tell us that the majority of mobile users (and soon that will be pretty much everybody) keep their device within reach all the time. People—yourself doubtless included—have traded solitude for the convenience of remaining connected to their world constantly.
As a result, business is going mobile too. This year, some commentators say, the number of mobile transactions will have increased by 50 percent over the year before—this trend will continue. We should see it as catching the updraft created by the growth of digital channels generally, primarily the Internet, and the consumerization of IT, which is seeing employees using their own mobile devices to perform work-related functions. (This trend is affectionately known as bring your own device or BYOD.)
Everything points to one inescapable fact: Humankind increasingly sees itself as permanently plugged in—and it expects the companies it transacts with, to be in the same position.
This has enormous implications for business, and insurance is no exception. The title of a recent Forrester report, “The future of insurance is mobility,” says it all. However, we are very much at the beginning of the journey and, in this series of blog posts, I want to break it down into four broad areas:
- Clients. As any business knows, you need to go where the clients are—and that’s increasingly online and onto mobile devices.
- Employees. The BYOD phenomenon, while a challenge to companies, is being embraced because of the huge productivity gains. Insurers are already making good use of mobile to empower their employees.
- Agents and brokers. Some insurers are already making moves to enable their independent agents and brokers to use mobility as a way to be more effective and build closer customer intimacy.
- Technology. In the background, the ever-patient CIO and his or her team has to put the right technological infrastructure in place to enable clients and employees to interact with your systems wherever they are. Specific areas of focus in the move to become mobile include social media, cloud computing and the development of mobile apps.
In my subsequent posts, I want to take a closer look at each of these areas in a little more detail from the perspective of an insurer.