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IBM, Apple Partnership Could Yield Trove of Insurance Apps

The insurance industry is a prime candidate for better mobility solutions, says Mark McLaughlin, IBM's insurance global leader.

IBM and Apple's recently announced Retention mobile app represents the first of several potential initiatives that the combined effort could deliver for insurance companies specifically, says Mark McLaughin, IBM's global insurance leader.

At the heart of the IBM/Apple partnership is the desire to marry Apple's well-regarded business-to-consumer user experience with IBM's enterprise expertise, McLaughlin said. When it comes to the insurance industry, "we're looking for where are there pools of professional workforces where their lives could be improved if they had better mobility," he says. "Agents, claims adjusters, risk managers in the commercial setting. These sorts of roving forces that are central to the insurance process."

Retention and other apps that might be delivered through the partnership look to deliver the kinds of next-generation technology insights that aren't typically considered part of a standard insurance workflow but go a long way toward creating an engaged customer.

"Insurers have looked at mobility as, 'I’ll take my existing process and put it on a phone,'" but the potential is greater, McLaughlin says. "We can look at the agent’s workday and give them the tools they need to identify which customers would benefit the most from a personal touch. We want to take the analytics that’s all calculated back in the cloud back at the home office and put it on their mobile device."

Identifying the most valuable customers with the most need for multiple products demonstrates value as an advisor that the insurance industry needs.

"We’re selling intangible products to customers that don’t trust us. An app is only going to get you so far on trust. You’ve got to have a person in the loop," McLaughlin says. "The most valuable customers are the ones with multiple needs and multiple assets to protect. Mobility and analytics enable the agent to build higher trust and do a better job of helping the customer understand the product and their risk."

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, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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