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Oct 23, 2013

Gaining Competitive Advantage in the Insurance Industry with Enterprise Apps


The insurance industry is a unique one, consisting of a complex ecosystem of carriers, agents, brokers, and advisors. Industry-wide challenges include managing risk, recruiting and retaining customers, and now, for health insurance providers, implementing the provisions of the AHA (Affordable Healthcare Act). The need for more efficiency in this industry has never been greater, and what better way to achieve this than through enterprise apps? We’re not the only ones who think so, in fact according to the research firm Celent, total worldwide IT spending in the insurance industry is expected to reach $140.2 B this year. Given that 86% of mid-sized to large insurance companies, life and annuity providers already have a BYOD (bring your own device) strategy, it is not a huge stretch to conclude that a large percentage of this spending will be directed towards enterprise apps and other mobile solutions.

That being said, how does an insurance carrier go about mobilizing their large, geographically dispersed force of agents and brokers, and why does it matter? From the carriers’ perspective, by deploying an effective enterprise mobility strategy, they can increase revenue and decrease risk by enabling their agents and partners to access back-office pricing  and product data in real-time, thus expediting sales at the most current risk-adjusted rates. In addition, carriers can decrease costs related to paper application processing with an electronic application system, and can spend less on IT by embracing BYOD.

On the other side of the coin, insurance carrier partners such as independent agents, brokers, and advisors can provide better quality service to a larger number of clients, or in short, sell more. Independent agents, who spend the majority of their time on the road visiting prospects, need to be able to access information while on-the-go. In addition, because they handle many different carriers, the complex details of any given plan can be difficult to remember, and not having answers could mean losing a sale. Captive agents, who only work for one carrier, may need to access company-wide CRM data or account history for existing customers, requiring tie-in to the carriers’ back office. Brokers and advisors, who work on behalf of their clients, may need to access their clients’ financial and risk information and create what-if scenarios.

By presenting this information on graphically rich enterprise apps, brokers and agents make it easier for clients to understand their options and ultimately make a purchase. However, there are many challenges. Because of the multi-party system, there are different users with varying roles, access needs, companies, devices, and MDM profiles that are not all controlled by the carrier.

In addition, the security of customer information is at stake, especially since insurance companies are subject to regulatory guidelines that protect customer information such as HIPPA and SOX. As a result, mobile security and role-based access are extremely important in this industry. Once you add the challenge of deploying mobile enterprise apps to a large dispersed staff of agents (New York Life, for example has 12,000 captive agents across the country), the work involved in deploying a mobile strategy can seem insurmountable. Fortunately, however, Apperian’s unique mobile application management (MAM) approach makes it easy for insurance carriers to secure, manage, and distribute apps for both employees and third party producers, across any device or MDM profile, with the appropriate level of access and security.

This is all good in theory, but are insurance companies really going mobile? Many are -- in fact, Chubb, the nation's 12th largest property and casualty insurer, was ahead of the game several years ago when the company provided a small subset of its agents with tablets containing a library of marketing material that they could access remotely, and CapGemini recently found that mobile and social media are a priority for more than 50% of insurers included in their survey.

If you are part of the insurance producer ecosystem, and haven’t yet thought about mobility, it is time to get started.


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