Welcome to the Internet of Things in the Insurance World. Everyone in our industry understands the need for electronic based enrollments and benefit management as a reliable and accurate way to capture benefit elections. But now is the time to embrace — and demand — a mobile enabled version of the online systems. Consumers today expect that all online applications, resources, or features they use should be available via their smartphone or any device connected to the Internet; this has to be the case for online enrollments. Why exclude an individual if they want to sign up for short-term disability on their Xbox or refrigerator’s Wi-Fi enabled display? This is what people expect in 2015.

The IoT revolution of the 25 years has connected individuals in all aspects of daily life. The progress in technology has been in many ways “step based evolution” with the introduction of new technologies on a regular basis, but some of those technologies have elevated us past the then-current plateau. For example, faster, cheaper home computers of the ’90s, high-speed-always-on Internet access in the early ’00s, and now the mobile revolution of the ’10s. The introduction of the smart phone, followed by the popularity of the iPhone, has created an environment where individuals would rather use their connected device than their desktop for many tasks.

Also see: "Open enrollment: 'What do I know? I'm just the IT guy.'"

With this revolution/evolution in mobile computing, we are also expanding our access to consumers. No more do you hear, “What if a person does not have a computer?” The Pew Research Center states that 10% of Americans have no way to access the Internet other than their smartphone, and 70% of working age adults have a smartphone or tablet with Internet access. Limiting the delivery of education or enrollment to only desktop computers or forcing consumers out of their comfort zone by using a smartphone to make a phone call does not embrace the IoT or create happy consumer.

Avoid the junk mail pile

So, are you really reaching your target population with outdated communications and enrollment technology? Are you sending snail mail? If yes, did you bother to verify the employee’s address to ensure they receive it? There is a good chance with mailing information that it goes to the employee’s parent’s house or anywhere they considered “permanent” at the time of filling out new-hire paperwork.

That mail then sits idly in a pile of junk mail, becomes kindle for a fire, or lines birdcages until it is disposed of. With so much technology readily available, it is important to be able to reach people through any device at any time.

Bottom line: Americans have smartphones, they are connected, and they expect to be able to use them. Every statistic says there is no generation that is not connected; but we all know that some generations are only connected and traditional low-tech or no-tech approaches will not work.

EnrollVB builds each new enrollment on mobile friendly technology, and we current take 20% t0 30% of all elections on a mobile device. That statistic is across all demographics, all industries and all age groups.

Forbes Magazine says that by 2017, 87% of all sales from connected devices will be on tablets and/or smartphones; it is not too late, but in 18 months, it will be.

Melton is a solution architect at EnrollVB. Reach him at (770) 619-1228 or david.melton@enrollvb.com.

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