Terri Goveia
Your Business|Managing Your Practice
Insurers Slow to Maximize Web 2.0 | Canadian Insurance

Insurers Slow to Maximize Web 2.0

Insurers are having difficulty trying to maximize the potential of Web 2.0 tools like social networking, online sales and web technologies.

Though they’re making some inroads into Web 2.0 territory—especially in Europe—“it is still difficult for them to evaluate the value of initiatives in this area,” says new report from insurance analysts at Celent. The report, Reaping the Benefits of Web 2.0, suggests that some Web 2.0 tools—like internal social networking—have more potential to transform insurance businesses than external social networking or underwriting applications.

Both U.S. insurers and European counterparts have shown interest in Web 2.0 tools and technology, though U.S. insurers are exploring the potential in blogs, social networking and podcasts, while European insurers lean toward harder technologies like RSS. Both sides show the most interest in AJAX—asynchronous Javascript, which can help boost the online purchasing experience—showing “that insurers want to emphasize usability for internal and external users. It is achieved internally through improved processes and externally through enhanced online insurance sales platforms,” according to the report.  

The tools should help insurers address some of the demands that accompany a younger client and employee base, like usability, mobility, spontaneity and openness, the report states, noting that  “some insurers have understood that Web 2.0 can be an important enabler of internal communication, collaboration, motivation and employee empowerment, which in turn could facilitate self-monitoring of project achievements.”
After surveying several Web 2.0 projects underway in Europe, the authors stress that insurers should consider the risks versus rewards of different approaches. Though the risk of focusing on online portals is ranked as “low,” its transformational potential is only mid-range, compared to internal social networking, which has both “high” risk, and “high” transformational potential: the report highlights German insurer DAK, which used the Clearspace internal social community to change the way its employees shared information.

The report predicts that more insurers will chose sales portal-based initiatives in the near future, improving their existing sites with VOIP or blogging, instead of more open, risky initiatives like social networking.