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Tablet Toolkit Design: The connectivity debate

This short article looks at one of the “hot” design factors that all insurers need to consider when designing a tablet solution. We examine the issue through the lens of a life insurance agent.

Offline – a perfect solution

There is no doubt that an offline solution provides the gold standard to agents as it can provide 100% guaranteed availability to allow the them to sell “anytime, anyplace and anywhere”.

The AIA case study provides a very clear example of an offline solution that is an industry leader.

Offline – perfection always has a price

The price of an offline solution is in three areas:

  1. Need to select the tablet device to support (not a major issue in practice)
  2. Need to duplicate the business rule for quotation and illustration functionality – this will involve bespoke development cost and then considerable additional maintenance cost as two sets of code need to be maintained and reconciled
  3. An offline solution does not facilitate real time straight through processing and for those products that have underwriting rules linked to the aggregation of risk across all existing policies that the customer has, it can create a real barrier that offline cannot address. So it is inevitable that an online solution will eventually be required

So if the insurer is looking to get to market quickly and keep costs low, an online solution could be a viable solution (and in some cases the only option).

When would you consider developing an online only solution?

Insurers who are just starting their tablet toolkit developments may consider an online development as a preferred solution if one or more of the following scenarios apply:

  1.  When they build a resource centre for sales presentations that is offline (i.e. documents are available on the tablet)
  2. When there is an existing client server quotation engine that can be re-used in the tablet development. Or alternatively the insurer has to replace a legacy quote system and only has the time and/or budget to build a single online solution that can be deployed across many platforms
  3. When there is a desire to build a single online application for digital proposal submission and move rapidly to straight through processing
  4. There is confidence that connectivity will be sufficiently good to allow advisors to plan meetings at physical locations that support online operation

What types of online solution can be considered?

A pure online solution will use HTML5 to deploy a device independent solution. However, the available evidence suggests that a hybrid solution delivers a better customer experience – using native functions to create smooth screen flow and accessing device specific capabilities (signatures, camera features and resource centres for example). So the best practice for online solutions is effectively hybrid – use an html frame for the server based business rules (for quotes and digital applications) that is embedded within a native application.

Online vs Offline : Which choice would you make?

Online vs Offline : Which choice would you make?

Conclusions – make your own choice

And lastly time will work in favour of online solution. Five years from now, with ongoing improvements in connectivity, the scales will have clearly tipped in favour of online in more markets in Asia.

By Hugh Terry


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