Insurers are encountering a new level of sophistication with mobile users and technologies. Much like the rapid maturity of web technologies years ago, mobile technology is rapidly evolving today. Perhaps you are tacking a Mobile 2.0 strategy, or maybe you are just getting started with mobile. Either way, here are a few things to consider as you define your strategy and implement capabilities:

  • Why is this important?  Consumers are becoming more accustomed to, and more dependent on, mobile technologies. Satisfying today’s customers is arguably less critical than attracting and retaining tomorrow’s best customers (and agents), who will be mobile cognoscente. They are likely to be better risks, more productive and, in turn, more profitable. Beyond customers and agents, with things like mobile-enabled cars, weather preparedness, home monitoring systems, data aggregation, and dozens of other mobile tie-ins, you need to be in the game now.
  • Users: When designing mobile capabilities, think first about the audience. Policyholders need a set of functionality geared toward consumer interactions. Agents need different functionality, with a higher degree of sophistication around inquiry and transaction support. Employees likely need an even richer set of functionality along with a robust security model. Take the time to define what will be most valuable and impactful for each type of mobile user. Ask them what they are looking for, which may require first educating them on the possibilities. Use an agile approach to demonstrating mock-up capabilities to help you confirm priorities. Is what you are offering going to make things easier and more convenient for each user type? Business stakeholders (e.g., Claims leaders, Service Operations leaders, head of Agency, etc.) should be accountable for decisions about features relevant to their functional areas. While you may already have gone through such an exercise, consider how much has changed in just the past 12 months with mobile technologies. Is it time for a refresher?
  • Think Big, Start Small: As you begin introducing mobile capabilities, again I suggest taking an agile approach. Deploy basic functionality first. Then add capabilities as resources allow and user demands warrant. Include a simple comment mechanism – along the lines of a “like/don’t like” vote for existing functions (or desired features). Don’t waste time and resources on features that users don’t want.
  • Security and Privacy: Security considerations will have a major impact on design and platform specifications. How much information should be made available, and to whom? Other industries, particularly banking, have solved many of the fundamental security issues, at least for now. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but all the business stakeholders (not just I.T.) must understand the security landscape and the risks. Yet don’t let security considerations stand in the way of your mobile deployment. Instead, limit your risk by limiting the amount of information that is in the mobile realm, and by adopting security measures that have already been proven effective elsewhere (e.g., banking, payments, airlines, etc.).  And put plans in place in the event of a data or security breach; no security model is infallible.
  • Devices:  You can’t dictate to consumers what devices they should use. They will float from phone to tablet to laptop and back. They’ll use Apple and Android. They’ll use Wi-Fi and cellular data and so on. Design your strategy around the desired user experience, then figure out how (or if) to deploy all aspects of that design in the mobile realm. 

Mobile functionality is becoming increasingly important for capturing customer brand loyalty. It’s not about the technology – it’s about the customer experience. Whether you’re in the mobile game already or just getting started, put the customer first as you develop or renew your strategy. And be prepared for rapid change as the mobile realm is moving very quickly. Your policyholders and employees will let you know if you’re getting it right.

A version of this article appears in the September 2015 ITAPro magazine.