Insurers Beware! Your Multichannel Strategy Might be Creating Your Next Legacy Nightmare

The digital world is reshaping everything we do. Ten years ago the majority of us hand wrote checks, went to a bookstore to buy the latest novel and flagged passing taxi cabs using whatever means necessary. Now we pay our bills online, use tablets to buy books on Amazon and download smartphone apps to order taxis – and even pizzas.

Insurance leaders should be actively examining the implications these behaviors have on all aspects of their business. These rapidly evolving patterns of behavior have profound ramifications on the insurance industry and the multitude of channel interactions they must support.

According to recent statistics from the Pew Research Internet Project, 34% of cellphone internet users go online mostly using their phones, instead of another device such as a desktop or laptop computer. So what does this mean to an insurance executive tasked with capturing both mind and market share? They need to be thinking about a comprehensive, multifaceted channel support strategy. A carrier needs to tap into the growing group of smartphone only Internet users, yet still satisfy the 76% of the market inclined to engage via other channels like their desktop, e-mail or phone.

Not surprisingly, the insurance industry has largely gravitated toward a conservative and reactive approach when addressing this business challenge. In many respects, this reactive stance mirrors the siloed approach that carriers have deployed with core insurance systems for years. For example, take a look at the mobile tools that many personal lines insurers provide to producers and policyholders. At first glimpse, you will see offerings that provide carriers with marketing uplift and an enhanced value proposition. But on closer inspection, you will find that many of these offerings are often discrete undertakings creating new silos that must be independently developed and maintained. (And you don’t have to take my word for it – go do your own comparison and you’ll see what I mean.)

While largely borne of necessity, this strategy is no longer sustainable. With user interaction preferences changing at rapid clip, carriers are really creating their next legacy headache. In this case, rather than support a cadre of outdated policy administration systems, insurers must support an ever-changing ecosystem of channel offerings. It is only matter of time before that siloed channel infrastructure grinds a carrier’s good intentions to a halt.

Insurance carriers can break this cycle by taking proactive steps to ensure they are well positioned to support and adapt to rapidly evolving channel needs. Rather than pursuing “one off” builds for Web, mobile or social channels, a carrier’s channel strategy should be supported by agile technology that enables them to support a multichannel application from a single platform. For example, imagine being able to reuse the same new submission process on your Website, on a producer’s tablet or a consumer’s smart phone. Or have a system that can dynamically sense and automatically adjust the experience to a user’s preferred device or channel – whether they are on their laptop, an Android phone or an iPad running iOS 7.

By deploying agile solutions with an eye toward multichannel from the onset carriers can avoid the pitfalls of the past and drive substantial business benefits by:

  • Delivering a consistent customer and brand experience across a multiple points of interaction
  • Improving time to market by being able to design solutions once and deploy them anywhere
  • Reducing costs by eliminating the expense of supporting multiple channels, devices, etc.

In short, deploy a future proof approach that provides insurers with the freedom to differentiate and exploit opportunities as new patterns of channel behavior emerge. That’s a much better alternative than being shackled by your next legacy nightmare.