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Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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Are Insurers Ready For a Consumer-Activated Enterprise?

Consumers’ connectedness and expectations for excellent service are rapidly increasing. It’s time for financial services to catch up with them.

Over the next thirty minutes, 2,500 customers will tweet about the customer experience they had with their bank. Almost two million apps will be downloaded. Thirty thousand customers will file claims with their insurance providers.

Raphael Capelli, managing partner of the North American financial services sector GBS at IBM, listed these numbers in his presentation at the Oracle Industry Connect conference held this week in Boston. It’s time for financial services to move towards a customer-activated enterprise, he explained.

“I think we are underestimating two things,” Capelli said. “The first one is the speed of the move, and the second one is its impact on the business.”

[ How Insurers Can Turn Change To Competitive Advantage. ]

Today’s customers are becoming increasingly more connected. Forty percent of smartphone users check the Internet before getting out of bed, Capelli stated, and 91% keep their smartphone within arm’s reach at all times. More users are willing to volunteer personal data such as GPS location and turning to social networks to obtain information they would normally research on Google.

“Technology is forcing business model changes and challenges,” said Oracle president Mark Hurd in his conference keynote speech. “Social will now change the way we buy, the way we sell, the customer experience and the employer experience.”

The rise of social is a big problem or a big opportunity, said Hurd, depending on how companies look at it. Digitally enfranchised customers pose a challenge to financial services because their expectations for service are radically changing. The incoming generation of customers has sky-high standards for customer service and minimal loyalty towards companies that provide anything less. Going forward, consumers will be more loyal to businesses that can make the right decisions, at the right time, with the right information.

According to Capelli, the combination of big data and analytics is becoming the key differentiator for businesses seeking to pursue higher levels of customer experience. Banks and insurance companies are strong in capturing transactional data, he explained, but are behind in their ability to capture unstructured data.

“This gap must be addressed very, very quickly,” Capelli urged. Disruptive companies are entering the financial services space and gaining market share with new business models that are based on innovation. These disruptors are capturing the customer relationship and creating distance between traditional financial institutions and their own clients, he explained.

Financial services businesses can create new customer experiences by moving outside the transaction and entering the customer’s life. With big data and new cloud and cognitive technologies, companies can leverage customer information to create insight, anticipate clients’ needs, and transform their customer experience into one that today’s consumers have come to expect.

[The mobile employee -- as well as the mobile customer -- are here to stay. Is your insurance company prepared? Learn how to set up and maintain a mobile infrastructure that can support today's needs and tomorrow's expected mobile demands. Attend the From BYOD to 802.11ac: How to Build A Next-Generation Mobile Infrastructure session at Interop 2014 in Las Vegas, March 31-April 4.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
3/28/2014 | 6:50:11 PM
re: Are Insurers Ready For a Consumer-Activated Enterprise?
Just some additional food for thought: Hurd also mentioned that consumers have gone from spending $100 billion on IT to $1 trillion in the last decade. Now, consumers and businesses spend equal amounts - but only 18% of companies' IT spending is dedicated to innovation; most goes towards maintenance.
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