What the insurance industry can learn from the iPhone 5: A study in frictionless upgrades

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13 September 2012
Craig Beattie
Lately people have joined Apple events hoping for something completely new and outlandish, some perhaps hoping Apple will slip up and over the last couple of years there has been talk of disappointment after then events. Indeed it’s becoming so hard for Apple to keep anything secret now that there are few surprises – but many are overlooking that Apple have done enough and done it very well on each occasion. One of the key things that struck me from yesterday’s event was how the attention to detail had removed the friction in the upgrade. For so many things in life when I upgrade there is a trade-off. Sure, there’s the initial cost of the upgrade but often I find I’m faced with weighing other priorities too – I recall thinking quite carefully about upgrading my PC from XP to Vista, about what my second Android phone would be (full disclosure – I have an iPhone 4 now). I was weighing up different screen sizes, different UIs, hardware requirements, software compatibilities, etc. For me the upgrade from iPhone 4 to 5 feels like a no brainer. It’s thinner and lighter and has all the stuff I like about the iPhone 4 and they’ve managed to cram in some more features as well. How often is that the case with enterprise software? Actually, there are very mature insurance systems out there that offer a great upgrade experience and bring business value with each upgrade. It’s actually one of the key features I extoll when working with clients as a sign of maturity, the readiness of the technology and the business value of these systems. Gone are the days when an enterprise might buy a “Symbian phone” to find it’s hardware and software are no longer supported – it remains a good phone but it will never have the new features needed in a year, 2 years – and 5? Today, the insurance industry can buy software that isn't legacy by the time they've rolled it out. For those vendors to the insurance industry who don’t think too hard about your roadmap and upgrading your customers in the future, look to Apple. They are about to make a great deal of money because they looked at their install base, what their customers do and want, and removed the friction from the upgrade. Customers get everything they loved about their current product and it's smaller, lighter, faster, makes better calls, takes better pictures, runs apps faster and more besides.

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