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To app or not to app?

01 February 2017 Innosys

Claire Wood, Managing Director at Innosys

Claire Wood, Managing Director at Innosys

There really is an app for everything these days. You can use an app to help you find someone in your immediate vicinity who needs a hug. Or you can set your phone to let you know when the best time is to go to the loo during a movie so you do not miss anything too important.

There’s even an app that reminds you where you parked your car… in a pirate voice!

 

No simple task

 

But ask anyone who has launched a successful commercial app and they will tell you it’s not a straight forward exercise.

 

Over the last few years, serious money has been thrown at developing mobile applications. More than 75% of enterprise apps have ended up in the uninstall bin. Why? Herd mentality. Everyone wanted an app for business because everyone else had an app for business; very few had a tangible business need behind them.

 

It is all good and well designing an app that lets you add cat stickers to your photos, or fake-texts you during awkward dates, but enterprise apps – especially in the insurance industry – need a real commercial purpose and one that benefits both business and consumer.

 

Complete thinking

And once you have a business case for an app, be sure to think through the implications… all the way to the end. Even good apps have backfired.

 

The insurer’s goals were noble: to provide better service to policyholders. But they soon realised that making it easy for a customer to claim was not always in the business’ best interests. Not only did they see a big jump in the number of claims reported (which actually increased their administration costs, rather than the opposite they had hoped for), the perceived ease of access to the claims process had also increased the number of fraudulent claims.

 

Big ticket expense

Mobile app development has become a big ticket item in many digital strategy budgets but companies are not always as disciplined in making decisions around app development, as they would be when spending the same on another aspect of their business.

 

Apps are visible in a way that other business software is not. If you make a wrong move with your back-office technology, you can more than likely manage it to minimise any impact on your clients. If you misstep with a consumer-facing app, you run a much higher risk of reputational damage to your business.

 

Leveraging mobile

Now that the app honeymoon phase is well and truly over, organisations are starting to re-assess how they can take advantage of mobile devices to do better business, better. More companies are seeing the value of incorporating apps into a holistic digital strategy, rather than apps being that strategy.

 

The app-trap is such an easy one to fall into; it goes something like this:

 

We need an app.

Why?

Because it is essential to our digital strategy.

What is the strategy?

Well, the strategy is to launch an app. So, we need an app.

 

This is a surprisingly common circular argument that we hear often in strat sessions. Technology, particularly mobile apps, should empower your business goals, rather than drive them. And allow yourself to think more broadly than just consumer-facing; a mobile productivity tool for your own staff may unlock better value.

 

The shape of the industry is being changed by well-built apps that meet a real need. Just ask Australian on-demand insurer, Tr?v. Their combination of a disruptive business model, powered by a quality mobile platform, has unlocked the elusive millennial market locally and globally.

 

Will we see more apps in the insurance industry in the future? Absolutely. Will they be useful? That’s the real question.

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