Mobile apps are central to the value proposition of mobility, something insurers need to bear in mind. And their notion of connected products/ connected insurance has to expand as well.

I was particularly struck by the finding, in the Accenture Mobility Insights Survey, that insurers are more likely (and often much more likely) than companies in other industries to say they have challenges in developing mobile apps. These challenges include a poor user experience that leads to lack of engagement by users who have downloaded the app; difficulties in marketing the app successfully to potential users; and lack of user/ usage data to identify the user issues already noted.

Overcoming these challenges may not be that easy, but it’s vital that they are. Mobile apps have quickly established themselves as one of the primary ways in which companies deliver value to mobile customers, as can be seen from the statistics. Use of mobile apps grew by 115 percent in 2013,[1] and the Wall Street Journal says they could represent a $25 billion industry.[2] The reason for this growth is that the best apps offer a simple, easy-to-use way for people to access a service they find desirable.

Insurers have to play in this space. A first step would be to enhance their process and technology architectures with a customer and analytics layer, as well as a communications layer to enable seamless interaction with all channels, including mobile. Key enablers in this area would be appropriate security/ authorization protocols, and the decoupling systems from processes via workflow management. (Accenture’s technology group has wide experience in developing and implementing such architectural strategies.)

To see what could be achieved, consider South Africa’s Outsurance which is building its brand with two innovative apps. One is an app that allows anyone to request the company to send a pointsman to a busy intersection whose traffic light is not working—the company sponsors a team of these in response to endemic traffic light malfunctioning. A second app allows anyone, even non-customers, to request roadside assistance.

Mobility: Fueling the Digital Surge
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Another area that needs attention is the whole world of connected products, the emerging Internet of Things. The research shows that insurers are keenly aware of the relevance of connected vehicles and buildings or plants, but not of other connected products. While this is a sector that is in its infancy, I think they need to keep an open mind. For example, personal equipment for monitoring health vital signs has obvious relevance to life insurers as well as health insurers, and the potential of connected devices within the home or office (that is, not strictly part of the infrastructure) should not be ignored.

One example: giving people a way to store digital photos in the cloud coupled with “memory insurance” could open up a whole new world of customer-first insurance.

And what about the mobile communications device itself? Insurers should be at the forefront of innovating coverage for these vital tools and creating service ecosystems with the telcos.

In conclusion, mobility and the technologies that enable it are vital ingredients of tomorrow’s business and social environments—insurers need to be piloting ways of using them today, or they risk being left behind.

Download the cross-industry Accenture Mobility Insights Report 2014 or register to receive the insurance-specific report.

[1] http://www.flurry.com/bid/103601/Mobile-Use-Grows-115-in-2013-Propelled-by-Messaging-Apps.

[2] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323293704578334401534217878

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