- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

A New Era of Technology: Part 1 – Mobile

As I think of the amazing transformation we have witnessed over the past couple years, I wish I could share this moment with my grandparents. They would be blown away by the simple idea of a smartphone, tablet, or PVR, the technologies we take for granted every day.

Does this make us oblivious to how great technology is? Perhaps, but as a leader at IBM, I get the opportunity to work with some of the most brilliant minds around the world when it comes to technology development. I can tell you, their work will drastically change the way business is conducted on both the customer and enterprise side.

Maybe you have heard of ‘CAMS’ already; if not, CAMS stands for Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, and Social. These four components are the driving forces behind technology development today.

CAMS is changing the way the customer interacts with the business, the way the business interacts with the customer, how two customers interact, and how two businesses interact.  I can give endless CAMS Technology examples but I want to focus on two which, I believe, are just at their starting points: Mobile and Analytics.

Thinking that your mobile phone just makes calls and sends text message is, what my son would call, “old school thinking”. Mobile has transformed our personal lives and now it is transforming the way we work.  Mobility is able to deliver devices, services, security and back end integration to organizations which are changing the way they interact with their customers.

iBeacon mobile technology is an example of a groundbreaking technology, on the edge of something “bigger”.  iBeacon in its simplest state is low-energy wireless technology driven through Bluetooth transmitters (called beacons). iBeacon detects iPhones or other iOS devices that have  the application previously installed on them. The iOS devices listen for the signals transmitted by beacons and responds accordingly when the iOS device comes into range.

Where would you see it today? Well iBeacon technology is already rolled out and you might not even realize you have been using it. Here are two examples.

  • Virgin Atlantic is one of the first adopters/testers of iBeacon technology. They conducted a trial at Hearthrow airport. The passenger heading towards the security checkpoint would find their phones automatically pulling up their mobile boarding pass ready for inspection and scan without the passenger touching their phone.
  • Macy’s ran a campaign called shopBeacon (beta trial). Macy’ s Herland Square, New York and Union Square, San Francisco welcomes a shopper when he/she enters a store and shows him/her location-specific deal, discounts, recommendations, and rewards without having the customer open up the app. If the customer likes a product on the Macys app before entering the store, the app will remind the customer of the products he or she is interested in when they enter the store and direction on where to go to find those products.

This is going to revolutionize the customer shopping experience.

What does this technology mean for enterprise? I predict three ways this technology is going to change the organization functions.

  • Trimming the fat on the floor – Why pay to have employees on the floor to help serve customers if the application can do almost everything already. With mobile payment option and now iBeacon technology, why would an organization need so many employees on the floor, if only a handful is necessary.
  • Empowering the employee – For the workforce that is on the floor, the signal is also directed to the employee.  As a result, they can have all the information available at their hand about how to service this customer before even saying hello. They know where to find the customer in the store and already know the customer shopping preferences, product they’re interested in and deals they are thinking of using.
  • Faster than a speeding bullet –Companies can leverage this technology to move customers through their stores faster, creating less traffic and quick lines.

Analytics is offering the same level of transformative opportunities. I will focus there in my next post.


Editor’s Note: Peter Pleckaitis leads the Customer Experience & Strategy team in IBM’s Interactive Experience organization.  Peter works with clients to generate business models and launch new business to capture the benefits of disruptive technologies.  Peter was a featured speaker at the Insurance-Canada Executive Forum:  Insurance 2024.