10 Burning Questions from 2012: What Happened?

A year ago I&T identified several tough questions we predicted the insurance technology industry would have to confront in 2012. What happened and how much clarity did we get?
December 14, 2012

2. How will Mobile & Bring Your Own Device reshape the enterprise?

What we saw in 2011: "Forward-thinking insurers now are focusing on new opportunities to leverage mobile technology within the enterprise… The major reason insurance companies are looking at enterprise-centric mobile development is due to the expectation of many of their employees that they will be able to use their preferred devices, whether smartphone or tablet, at work."

What happened in 2012? Originally, this was two separate questions — what's next for policyholder-facing mobile capabilities, and what effect will the bring-your-own-device phenomenon have? It turned out that tablets were the major mobile mover in the insurance industry this year on both sides. Insurers across lines of business churned out tablet apps for agents and customers alike.

The iPad is dominant, but it's not without its flaws. John Hancock Financial Network found that the Apple device lacked the computing power necessary to handle the full version of its Retirement Ready product allocation engine for advisors. But Bruce Harrington, head of sales for the distribution arm of John Hancock, says that companies have to work with what their employees and customers want to use.

"The advisors are all independent and do what they want to do. It would be a challenge to convert an 85% Apple environment to some other device," he says.

Harrington says that if he had the opportunity to do it over, he'd build something in HTML5 that could be ported to other devices if one emerged from the pack of iPad chasers.

"An iPad app is not an insignificant cost, and if you had to build for each platform and had it perfectly tuned you're talking two or three times the cost," he says. "The downside of building HTML5 is that you don't get the benefits of every specific platform."

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