The Pace of Change

Only a few years back the industry would think in terms of designing a customer journey.  In the ‘first wave’ of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), journeys were defined and executed centrally by the Insurer…control rested with them and consumers were communicated to a rigid plan (often around renewal cycles).  The power rested with the Insurer who owned the technology to shape the dialogue.

The world has changed, fuelled by mobile technologies and generational changes where consumers are happy using it – as Generational Theorists would say – ‘it’s just stuff they have grown up with’.

Whether Technology shapes behaviour or is responding to behavioural changes is a bit of a moot point.  One certainly affects the other and the two are interwoven as never before.  Consider the pace of technological change around the development of tablet based devices.  Amazingly, the first US patent for an electronic stylus device for capturing handwriting was issued in November 1914 to H E Goldberg.  Forty year later, Tom Dimond demonstrated the Stylator electronic tablet; the first device to use a stylus instead of a keyboard, working with a modern digital computer.

The increasing pace of change from the start of the millennium stands out, as technologies began to mature and converge with wireless telecommunications.

Apple launched its first tablet in 1993 and then took 17 years to evolve this into the iPad.  Since then it has launched increasingly sophisticated models on an annual basis alongside its developing iPhone and wearable technologies, as devices expand in capability (through improved software and content), reduce in size (through smaller components) and increase data storage options (through cloud-based services).  In parallel a range of Android tablet devices have been developed by rivals (Google’s Nexus, Samsung’s Galaxy and Amazon’s Kindle among others).  The pace of change is accelerating and previously unthinkable alliances are emerging.  The collaboration between Apple and Microsoft over the iPad Pro (whereby Office software is engineered to work on Apple devices in a push into the lucrative Business market) would have been thought impossible a few years ago.  Similarly the re-emergence of the stylus as the Apple Pencil is startling and runs against Steve Jobs’ well publicised distain for styluses in general.  So, the market is adapting, the range of devices expanding and the applications that mobile devices run are multiplying.

The driver for this explosion in technology is tied up in the way consumers now behave.  The ‘old way’ has shifted incrementally over time and the ability to disrupt and pull apart the neatly defined ‘customer journey’ is very much with us.  The power to disrupt has been handed to consumers in the form of a mobile or tablet and they bring expectations from other industries to how they buy from and interact with Insurers using them.  Generational Theorists have devoted considerable time to unravelling how different generations view the use of technology and the results are intriguing.

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