While the Internet and other technologies have had a definite impact on business, the true adoption of such technologies in insurance and other industries has been slower than expected, according to Dennis Chookaszian, retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance.
Delivering the keynote address at techDEC, the Tech Decisions Exposition & Conference held here earlier this month, Chookaszian said online business has not seen rapid growth in the past 15 to 20 years. He pointed out that while many consumers occasionally buy things online, most dont do so more than once a week.
One thing that could help grow the online market is the proliferation of wireless broadband technology, but most consumers dont have such devices as yet, he noted. “Wireless broadband has not evolved to the level we thought it would,” Chookaszian stated.
He estimated a current penetration of wireless at about 20% of consumers. “Its going to be a while [before wireless usage grows significantly]. True broadband is five years out.”
As a result, he noted, “we havent changed our mindset in purchasing.” Wireless access could enable consumers to easily check the status of their accounts from any place that had service. Once more users adopt the technology and use it, the value of such wireless “networks” will increase significantly, he explained. However, he reiterated, this will not happen “in the near term.”
In a technology panel following Chookaszians address, Judy Johnson, vice president of insurance information strategies for the Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group, said the consequence of using technology to do something quickly that used to take longer is that it has “ratcheted up expectations for service” among consumers.
In the insurance industry, said Johnson, Meta Group is seeing a trend among insurers toward “building it ourselves” when it comes to technology applications to improve productivity and capture e-business. The researchers see this trend continuing “over the next few years,” she noted.
According to Cathy Ellwood, another panelist, who is director of corporate strategy for Nationwide Insurance, Columbus, Ohio, one of the fastest areas of growth has been Internet usage among Hispanics.