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To-Be or Not-to Be Mobile: Do Insurers Really Have a Choice?

Appian Contributor
July 8, 2013

Mobile is fast becoming the channel of choice and a requirement for competitive businesses today and into the foreseeable future. The insurance industry is no exception. Policyholders, employees, sales and service delivery partners are recognizing the benefits of managing interactions with insurers from their mobile devices. These members of the insurance ecosystem are gravitating toward insurance companies that are easy to do business - wherever, whenever and however.

Insurance companies who want to become the "carrier of choice" by leveraging mobile, have two key decisions to make: what to mobilize and how to mobilize. Because the go-to-market costs can be high, the decision on "what to mobilize" can influence the decision on "how to mobilize" and visa-versa. Decisions made in isolation and without adequate information can leave a company short of the "carrier of choice" distinction.

Most mobile strategists in insurance think there are but two ways to make an interaction mobile: native built mobile business applications or the browser-based HTML5 approach to exposing an already built business application. We will use the function of a life insurance product sale to exemplify the differences and the challenges inherent within these two strategies.

Assume a life insurer wants to give their distribution partners a sales app that helps the ultimate client visualize the value proposition of a particular product (Audi built such a app for the sale of the A8 and increased sales within the year by 387%). If the life insurer takes the native built approach, they will need to build a version of the sales app for each separate mobile operating system such as iOS, Android, and Blackberry. The downside is that one app is being built many times and maintained in order to take advantage of the "native" capabilities of the mobile operating platform associated with a particular device. While this is a lot of development and maintenance work with high costs, the native apps, by all accounts, provide a superior user experience.

If the life insurer takes the browser-based approach (HTML5 or some HTML5 hybrid) then they build the sales app once and then put a layer over the sales app with some HTML5 code so partners can open the app from the many possible different web browsers. The upside is the app is only built once with some HTML5 code and slight nuances for each browser. The downside is that browser based applications provide an inferior user experience and are exposed to the same security risks as any web-based application. Even the hybrid model where the app runs in a native container yet stores and presents data in the HTML format is vulnerable to the same performance and security issues.

Appian provides an alternative that offers all the benefit of the native-built approach with the ease of the browser based HTML5 approach. Appian's work social platform allows the life insurer to build the sales app once leveraging Appian's full BPMS and exposing it through any supported device leveraging the native capabilities of the device through Appian's already available native mobile applications. Appian's technology manages the instructions delivered to each mobile devices. The upside is building the app once and enabling a native user experience. The downside is the speed with which you can develop and deploy the mobile app experience will create a huge surge in demand. But fortunately, Appian's BPMS and native mobile clients makes it easy to serve this demand.

As nothing in Appian operates in isolation, the sales app in use by sales partners on the go can be seamlessly integrated with a traditional desktop view for the non-mobile internal employee. Connecting on-the go workers, sales in our example, with stationary workers, perhaps underwriters or actuaries, delivers operational efficiency and transaction transparency as a compliment to a productive sales force.

The insurance industry knows that mobile is becoming the consumer and business channel of choice and is being driven, in large part, from the outside in. Business knows what functionality it wants to deliver to those on the go and the value proposition of enabling anywhere, anytime transactions. We encourage insurance mobile strategists to evaluate the Appian approach to mobile business before venturing down what is currently perceived to be the only two mobile options for business.

Evan McDonnell

Vice President of Solutions

Evan McDonnell