Leading international research group, Gartner, reported that even though CIOs rated mobility as the third most strategic technology for 2013, a large percentage of mobile projects have still failed to attract end-users in 2014.It believes this can be attributed to a lack of consumer knowledge about the mobile offering, as well as poorly built apps that don’t offer any real value to the consumer. Many current mobile insurance apps are also not well aligned with other service channels, such as customer Internet portals, or do not leverage the capabilities of sophisticated smartphones.

“The limited demand for, and adoption of, customer-facing native mobile insurance apps means that insurers’ ROI for building and deploying native mobile apps targeted at customers remains low,” says Rhys Collins, head of African Operations for SSP.

He adds that it is important to conduct a detailed value analysis before investing in mobile apps. “Involve customer peer groups to determine their features, functionality, UI and process requirements. Ensure that mobile apps are closely aligned with user expectations to drive usage.”

With mobile apps, social media, the Internet of Things and wearable tech, it is easier than ever to access consumer data. This gives insurers the opportunity to use this information to create loyalty programmes, as well as to design new products and tweak existing ones. Collins said that this does, however, come with a certain measure of responsibility on the CIO’s part.

“Firstly, if you are collecting large amounts of data, ensure that you are able to adequately analyse the data in order to make effectual change. Secondly, CIOs will have to invest in more sophisticated data security solutions and improve their data privacy procedures to protect IT systems from data breaches and leakage.”

Collins advised CIOs to discuss the pros and cons of data collection incentives with key stakeholders, such as the legal department or external customer protection agencies.

“Assess the IT capacity and identify possible technology use cases, and analyse their impact on your competitive position, your brand and your relationships with customers and intermediaries.”

Making use of customer data is important for customer-centricity and to get a better understanding of next generation insurance. However, digitalisation without customer alignment can deliver results that may actually injure insurers’ relationships with them. Ensuring that digitalisation strategies are not entirely focused on operational efficiencies and cost reductions will remain key.

Additionally blending customer strategies with digitalisation will be a critical success factor, and a core requirement for market success in the coming years.

“The need for customer-centricity is further amplified by the changing consumer trends around mobility, social networking and behaviour. Assessing these changes is essential in building the right business and IT strategies over the next five to 10 years,” cautions Collins.