In a post back in January, I asked you for your thoughts on what would be the Key Technology trends that would have an impact on the insurance industry in 2011. I was headed to the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) meeting in Tampa and wanted your input. Many of your comments centered on the impact mobile technology and computing would have on our industry. Not surprisingly, mobile technology was also the most discussed trend in the strategic future issues break-out sessions held during the ACT meeting. Mobile computing as distinguished from desktop Internet is much more significant than just phones. It also includes tablets (iPad), readers (Kindle), MP3 players (iPod), Car electronics (GPS), home entertainment (Wii) and wireless home appliances (Internet TV).

We have been talking about mobile for a couple of years. Yet, in 2011 for the first time, sales of smartphones will surpass the combined sales of PC desktops and laptops. It is important to note that it is estimated that almost 60% of time spent on mobile phones is spent on activity other than call, texting and mail. It impact of mobile becomes even more significant when you consider the success of the iPad.

Mobile users will demand better browsing experiences from brand sites. They are going to expect platform neutral and real time access to information and services at anytime from anywhere.  Ok… so, we all agree that mobile is going to be transformative. Yet, what does that really mean for insurance agents & brokers and how are they going to rise to the challenge to meet the expectations of the mobile consumer?

At a very basic level, most websites need to be optimized for mobile devices. The future is about much more than building a iPhone App that links back to an agency website and offers claim advice. As good as that is, it is not enough. We need to begin to think about how to offer mobile transaction capability. Stuff like providing policy delivery to tablets and creative ways to process insurance payments and other forms of self-service. For example, allowing customer’s to use smartphones to snap a “scan” of a vin number of a new car purchase and launch notification to the agent or broker and start of the endorsement process. Creating mobile Apps that make it possible to access and process certificates of insurance or request auto id cards. Clearly, there are major challenges around validation, security and privacy. Yet, we have no choice but to find solutions to these concerns if we are to succeed.

What is your take? How do you see the industry being effected by mobile trends and what action must it take to meet this challenge?