Potential Is Rich, As Industry Inches Toward Mobile Utilization
From a number of perspectives, it would seem that the insurance industry is ideally suited to the use of mobile computing technology.
The nature of the business traditionally has lent itself to the use of professionals in the field for the sale and service of insurance products. In many cases, an insurance company representative needs to visit a potential client, actually inspect a claim or review a risk for underwriting purposes.
Depending on the carrier, the geography they need to cover can be regional and include only a few states, or global, covering several continents. So, with all this perceived need, what is the current state of mobile information technology utilization in the insurance industry?
At this point, there is great temptation to expound on the latest wireless gear and how carriers and their stakeholders are using, or could be using, this equipment to meet the needs of their customers. What is the status of wireless networks? Which new handheld devices really hold up in the field? How could we be using mobile technology? What about security for wireless devices or even ones that are just mobile like laptops?
Regardless, the complexity of insurance operations and the nature of the business are worth a brief review to place all this capability in the appropriate perspective.
The need for information at each of the aforementioned junctures has changed over time, along with the clients expectations of how each transaction should proceed. The amount and quality of data collected has also progressed as the need for underwriting precision increased and the need to make use of marketing opportunities rapidly grew.
New regulations and the realities of a changing world have also thrust new tasks on the industry. In spite of these universal changes, however, the business of insurance basically has remained the same. Insurers need to provide service contracts that mitigate the risk of everyday events as well as periodic disasters. To accomplish this, carriers need to market, price, sell, underwrite, and service products efficiently enough to make a profit and meet regulatory requirements.
A certain number of insurance professionals have always needed to be in the field with their customers. Unlike the rest of financial services, insurance, in many cases, needs to be sold and serviced in person.
Over the years, and including the present period, there remain very few transactions that actually need to happen anywhere close to real time (i.e., immediately). Insurance can happen asynchronously (The intake, processing and posting of information can be separated by relatively long periods of time.) without creating too many problems. In fact, this situation has be the norm for many years.
What has changed recently is the need for insurance carriers and their business partners to compete in a broader financial services and consumer market where real-time delivery is becoming the norm.
This new level of competition and the broader expectations of consumers in a more fully connected world are compelling insurance companies to close gaps in their asynchronous processes. In this way, they not only wring increased efficiency out of their operations, but also show that they are keeping pace with the rest of the services industry. One of the best ways to accomplish these goals is to leverage mobile technology.