October 19, 2012

At this point, most insurers have accepted that a policy-servicing mobile application is practically table stakes. Customers expect it, and it's only going to get easier to churn them out as new staff and vendor companies arrive on the scene with mobile development expertise. The question, though, is what do you do with that expertise once you have it? There's only so much that insurance customers need to do on mobile, after all. In fact, some have posited that insurers need not build mobile apps due to how little they are likely to be used.

There are reasons beyond customer service for making mobile a core competency of your insurance company's IT organization. The growing popularity of remote work, tablet computing, and bring-your-own-device means that a thorough understanding of the mobile landscape can provide a strategic advantage in enterprise functions. But there are also many reasons why you might not be ready to just mobile-enable your entire infrastructure. So what can you do to establish your IT department as a center for mobile innovation while you wait for other things to catch up to this mobile world?

[5 personal inventory apps from P&C insurers]

Well, GEICO has just put out it's sixth mobile game. Like many of the previous entries, the Tricky Traffic app leverages imagery from the company's ubiquitous marketing. Players are guided by the GEICO gecko through an obstacle course, with a safe-driving message scattered throughout. Gamification of marketing messages are becoming increasingly popular. Gartner has suggested that in two years most companies will have at least one gamified application. And GEICO is clearly on the leading edge of that trend with six already in the bank.

It may seem like busywork, but mobile app development is going to be a crucial skill for IT organizations of the future, and it should be nurtured. Plus, you're going to need to spend some money on digital marketing — and what better marketing than the next potentially addictive mobile game? Wouldn't it be something to see an Angry Birds-style phenomenon pop up out of the insurance industry?

By embracing gamification, the insurance industry can shake off the last throes of its former non-innovative reputation. You don't have to be the industry always playing catch-up with others when it comes to emerging technologies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, ...