- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Are Tablets Just New Tools, Or Change Agents?

There has been debate in the Insurance IT community which may be resolved before it actually builds up steam.  The central question now is, “Will Tablets be an alternative to laptop computer devices.”  The real questions might be, “Who is going to support our producers using Tablets and What will we do with all those obsolete laptops ?”

An increasing number of analysts are noting that the rise in popularity of tablets is correlating with a decrease in the sale of laptop devices (not PCs), especially at the lower end of the market.  For example, Carolina Milanesi, the analyst who led Gartner’s latest forecast on the issue, is quoted in the Guardian UK On-Line Edition April 11, 2011:   “‘I think a lot of the tablet sales will be additive, not just subtracting from PC sales. But we do see some displacement on the mobile PC side, definitely for mini-notebooks and low-end laptops. It will probably lengthen the replacement cycle for the PCs that are out there.”

Paul McDougall of InformationWeek, writes  “New research shows that, contrary to what many pundits first believed, tablets are making significant inroads in the business market as companies look to give employees more technology choice and flexibility. That Microsoft won’t have a true slate OS for at least a year could create even more space for Apple, Google, Research In Motion, and others to get their tablets on workers’ desks.”

This may be more than changing device types, however.   For example, according to a recent Nielsen survey entitled “State of the Media: Mobile Usage Trends: Q3 and Q4 2010” (reported in eMarketer) showed “the number of US consumers watching mobile video increased 40% year over year in Q3 and Q4 2010.”

Moreover, “Nielsen also found mobile video viewers were spending more time with the medium. Viewers ages 13 and older spent an average of 4 hours, 20 minutes per month watching mobile video during the second half of 2010, up from 3 hours, 15 minutes in Q3 2009 and 3 hours, 37 minutes in Q4 2009.”

So what does this mean for insurance?  Hard to tell, but we recently posted on the uses Tablets for Canadian commercial lines insurance producers in the field, a previously uncharted territory for technology.   Jeff Yates, respected head of the IIABA’s ACT group, addressed the same subject recently:  “Traditionally, agency principals and producers haven’t used the agency technology so much—it’s more of a back-office thing—but that’s going to change with tablets.”  PropertyCasualty30 Virtual View Point.

So, more devices, in higher use, for new applications, with new users.  Looks like more than a device swap.