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Consumerization of Access: Can Insurers and Their IT Departments Make the Shift?

Consumerization means more than just accommodating tablets and iPhones on corporate networks, according to a recent report.  And the implications can be profound for insurers and their technology departments.  We’d like to know what you think about these trends.

Information Week and Insurance & Technology joined forces to produce The New Customer Experience: How Mobile, Social and Analytics are Transforming Insurers’ Approach to Service and Profit which argues that customer demand are forcing insurers to adopt a customer centric approach in all aspects of sales and service, including access to corporate data resources using devices defined by the users, not by the insurers’ IT departments.  And these changes are happening in real time.  According to the report:

“Certainly insurers were alert to the possibilities of mobile communication with customers. But the speed of consumer uptake of mobile computing and smartphones, and the accompanying explosion of social media use — the consumerization phenomenon — took nearly everyone by surprise.”

Tricia Blair, SVP and chief digital officer with Lincoln Financial Group notes this change is forcing a redefinition of the relationships between insurers and consumers.  “We are focused on driving added value from an outside-in perspective, not inside-out, and our job is to be a customer advocate,” Blair says.

One key element is to enlist active cooperation from the insurers’ IT departments, a non-trivial effort, given that opening the IT room doors to any comers typically flies in the face of carefully crafted security practices.  Mark Breading, a partner at  Strategy Meets Action  notes that IT executives are challenged to strike a balance between the demands of this consumerization trend and the stability and security of the IT environment.

According to Frank Petersmark, from the technology consulting group X by 2, the unsettling aspect of this is the shift in control of information. “Technology ubiquity has fundamentally changed the control landscape from the insurer side of the ledger to the consumer side,” Petersmark says.

Resolving this will require long, serious discussions about business and technology issues.  The success of these discussions  is dependent on executives on all sides sides of the table – IT, Operations, Marketing, Finance – to be willing to look at the environment from the consumers’ perspectives, show leadership, and be willing to give up some turf.

So the question is:  Do insurers have the capacity and the trust environment to do this?  Are there progressive organizations in the Canadian insurance environment which are showing leadership in this regard?

We’d like your thoughts.  Leave a comment below.  We’ll have more on this in future posts.

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