Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Mobile Apps

Mobile apps have made a spectacular rise in 2010. Mobclix has a post of IDC's predicitions for Mobile Apps in 2011.

Here are the highlights:

  1. In-App Purchasing, Enabling a New Economy
  2. Apps aren't a One Trick Pony
  3. It Pays to be Pushy
  4. Apps Are Everywhere

According to this study 3 out of 5 people use an app before they will go to the web for search.

Also, amazing to me, the average smartphone user spends 2.8 hours a day using apps.

We all need to be thinking not if we need a mobile app, but what that app is going to do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 - the Year of Mobile

Great video on 2010 as the year of mobile...

Friday, December 3, 2010

How We Use Cell Phones

Interesting look at cell phone use. Three out of ten in U.S. used them in 1999. Nine of ten in U.S. use them today. Click on image to see larger view.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Latest Development Project

Sometime in Dec of 2010 we will be releasing our first mobile app.

Here is an idea of the benefits we think it will provide you.

After the first release we will be adding functions such as claims reporting, request a change, self service Proof of Auto Liability Insurance and self service Certificates of Insurance.

These functions are all for you to provide to your customers and prospects. 

Still later we will be releasing an app for our Cap Dat ACORD users to manage and work with their Cap Dat ACORD accounts.

The world is changing and it is going to be a great year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Introducing SehMobile

I am really thrilled to announce a new product line we are in the advanced stages of development on.

SehMobile is our soon to be family of Mobile Apps for the general insurance agent and as an additional front end to our Cap Dat ACORD and SehHey online services.

The way we communicate with customers has changed dramatically. Your Internet presence is more than your web site.

We will do our best to provide you with the tools you need to extend your contact and communication with your customers to devices of their choosing.

The business with the most choices wins.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Engine on a Horse

In Larry Kramer's new book C-Scape , Larry relates how he was once asked "If you put an engine on a horse do you have a car.

This is his analogy for taking your existing business model and trying to do exactly the same thing on the Internet.

The point is having a web site that doesn't provide the interaction or services that your customers expect will not work. You need to create a strategy before you deploy technology.

I couldn't agree more.

I think the best way to figure out your strategy is to ask yourself "What business am I really in?"

You may think this is obvious, but there is a very long history of businesses that thought their answer was obvious but were absolutely wrong.

Railroads thought they were providing railroads but their customers were buying transportation. Landline phone companies thought they were providing phones but their customers were buying voice communications.

So what business are your really in? Maybe you should ask your customers what they are actually buying.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

iPad Growth - Fastest Adoption Ever

ReadWriteWeb has an very interesting post on the speed at which the iPad is being adopted.

I have taught two Insurance Agency Internet BootCamp's with the brillant Steve Anderson in the past two weeks, and I was stunned to see multiple iPads used instead of laptops at each event.

Here is the killer quote from the report for me...

"At this rate, the iPad is poised to become the fourth largest consumer electronics category, passing up gaming hardware and the cellphone. Televisions, smart phones, and notebook PCs are currently the largest categories"

I will actually be surprised if most business folks have not made this switch - not to the iPad, but to tablets in general - by this time next year.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Just got back from the Verizon store. What a thrill - not.

But here is what is thrilling. We bought a Droid 2 for our newly formed mobile app team.

Here is a picture of our new baby...

I hope we will be the first mobile app for ACORD forms.

The clock has started ticking.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

U.S. Adults Use Mobile Apps

An interesting post on Mashable today - 1 in 4 U S Adults Now Use Mobile Apps .

So how are we using our cell phones?

Here is more detail on how we are using apps...

This is all pointing to the move to working with your customers beyond your website but still through the Internet.

I think this will be the biggest thing going in tech next year.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kindle or iPad?

You may recall I got my iPad at 10:00 AM the day it was released.

Two weeks ago I bought my first Kindle. I learned to like e-books using the Kindle app on the iPad, then on my iPhone, then my PC, then my MacBook.

Here is exactly why I got a IKindle...

I wish I could make ads that were this good at making the point.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

SehWhat for Insurance Agents

Have you ever felt like you needed some help to compete online against the direcet writers?

Well, now we have created a tool that your trade associations, carriers and user groups can use to help with exactly that problem.

Take a look at this slide show, or further down, watch the same slide show as a narrated YouTube video.

Here is the narrated video...

Let us hear from you on your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Local Search

This demo is the best explanation of the reason local search is growing in use and power I have yet seen.

And a Microsoft service no less.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pulling A Tooth with a Rocket

OK. this is one I wish I had done as a kid.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Push To the Limit

As a proud Father I wanted to mention my daughter's new venture - Push to the Limit .

Like many of last years college graduates, there was no job for her. She spent months looking everywhere. She had some physical limitations since she uses a wheelchair. This more or less takes away lots of jobs like waitressing.

But instead of giving up she has started her own website to collect and make available location based information about resources and things to do for other folks in wheelchairs or other limiting issues.

A large part of the success of the site will be getting as many folks as possible to suggest content and information. If you know anyone that might benefit from the information on the site, or anyone who might be willing to suggest information to add to the site, please pass the link along.


Duke - a proud Dad

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Star Wars iPad Briefing

Now how can anyone not get one?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

iPhone for Games, iPad Not so Much

The Business Insider has an informative post about the differences in the way iPhones and iPads are being used based on the download of apps.

Does this difference surprise you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Google TV

Google TV - I might be ready to believe - in 2011. But it does look great.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

YouTube Turns 5 Years Old

TechCrunch has a very good and interesting posting on YouTube at 5 years old.

Can you believe they are serving over 2 billion videos a day! As the article points out, that is twice as large an audience as prime time on the three major US TV networks.

Worth a look at Five Years In, YouTube

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Facebook and Twitter Changing Business Models

A very interesting post over at Techcrunch

How Facebook and Twitter Are Changing Business Models.

Here is the video from the post...


Monday, May 10, 2010

How to Do Business Online

I have started a 10 part posting on this issue on my Simply Easier ACORD forms blog.

You can check part 1 out at "How can an independent insurance compete with direct writers online? I Part 1 of 10 part blog posting."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Business Moving to Mobile

A post on Mashable today continues to present the cold hard truth that business is moving away from laptops to mobile devices - in this case smart phones.

  • "79% of respondents use their smartphones to conduct most business calls, versus an office phone or home phone.
  • 34% use a smartphone more than a computer for business. 7% even said they don’t take their laptops with them when they travel for business if they have a smartphone.
  • 48% of respondents said that at least two-thirds of their phone communication is via smartphone.
  • Smartphones and intimate relationships tied at 40% for the number one thing respondents can’t live without."

 This trend is only going to grow as the computing platform moves from the desktop and internet to mobile. Historically these changes end up with ten times as many devices on the new platform as existed in the previous platform. 

Do you use a smart phone?

Your customers do. How does your web presence appear on a smart phone browser? How does the interactivity work.

These are things that are heading your way faster than any change before.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Five Secrets to Success

The Business Insider had a good phone interview with Google's ex-CIO, Douglas Merrill, over the weekend.

Merrill made a good case for not multi-tasking. As I get older I have more and more problems with single tasking, so I appreciated his thoughts.

Take the time to read the short interview here, but in the mean time, the highlights are...

  1. Don't Try to Learn Things - I like the Albert Einstein story
  2. Get Stuff Out of Your Head 
  3. Never Multi-task
  4. Focus on One Thing
  5. Don't Confuse Being Neat for Being Organized


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

iPad and Touch Technology

This is how easy and intuitive touch technology is...

ReadWriteWEb has a great post on the future - that is 2015.

Their conclusion "And you, with your clickety-clackety keyboard and push-button mouse will be the "old fogie" whining about how you just can't adapt to typing on glass."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Virtual Choir

I found this on Kevin Kelly's blog - the Virtual Choir.

Kevin says it best - so I simply quote...

"Many critics of web technology complain that there is nothing special enabled by social media which you could not do with traditional media. Yes, you could make a choir of 200, but it would probably not sing like this. Take a look at this virtual choir. It brings 185 voices, all recorded independently at home, and then combined into a virtual choir. Each voice (available on the side of the video) is expert, each face unique; combined they are heavenly"

Monday, March 29, 2010

iPad and Insurance Agents

Have you ever stood behind your client's chair and leaned over her shoulder to show her something on their computer?

It is kind of awkward, isn't it?

How about scrunching your chair up to theirs to make it possible for both of you to see your laptop's screen? It can be an uncomfortable intrusion into personal space.

Of course you can both sit across from each other with your own PC's in between you. That sort of takes away from the personal touch.

This is one of the two places the iPad, and then the other 50 tablets based on the Android OS that are scheduled to come out this year, will change the way we all work with Internet and Communications technology - ICT - over the next 18 months.

It Takes Time to Find How to Best Use Technology

Back when the car was new, folks didn't really know what a car was or how they would use it. They put engines in horse buggies. They had no doors, windshields, trunks, etc. It takes a while to understand a tool and how we will use it.

In a survey I read today, most iPad purchasers think they will use the iPad for music or web browsing. I think Apple hopes they use it to buy more iPad Apps. Apple sees the device as a better interface for apps.

I think iPhone apps have been successful because the user experience browsing the web on a screen the size of any phone is just a poor experience. I believe apps are an intermediate step in the development of the touch screen interface.

A Single Flat Screen - Just like a Piece of Paper

The first dramatic change the iPad brings the insurance agent is the ability to sit across the table from your client, turn the iPad around so the client can read it - just like a piece of paper. You can still point to things while looking at it upside down - just like a piece of paper.

This is a bigger deal than most of us appreciate. To go back to physically interacting and sharing documents in the way people have worked together for centuries is something that will seem so natural it will only be noticed when you have to go back to sharing a laptop.

The folks you work with will know they had a more pleasant experience but they won't be able to say just why.

Touch Screen Interface Instead of Mouse or Keyboard

(Actually, you can get a standard keyboard to go with the iPad.)

If you are like most adults you have not yet had regular access to a device that works as a touch screen. This is not the kiosk at the airport or an ATM machine.

This is a general purpose computer that gives you an incredible amount of control over your display and interactions with the programs.

We have all seen the annoying use of large touch screens on television news shows. Those reporters go through the stuff so fast I get motion sickness. So why do they do that? Because it is just so amazing to work with the touch screen as a computing device. They know they are making it hard to follow them, but they just can't help themselves. You will feel the same way.

As an after thought plus, I think the ability for your insured to sign her name with her finger as the writing device will finally get insurance carriers to move off the dime with electronic signatures.

Should You Rush Out to Get an iPad?

I have already bought one, but then I am in software development and I need it for testing - so I tell my wife.

I am not convinced the iPad will be the best or dominate device. Apple has limited the iPad so it will compete as little as possible with the iPhone, iPod or the Apple laptop. Other manufacturers will not be trying to defend market share in these adjoining spaces.

I have watched a dozen or so YouTube video's of Android based pad - or tablet - devices. They look great. And they are a more open device - they have camera's and connecting ports that Apple's iPad does not. I will be buying a couple of these before the year is out. I really expect them to dominate in the near term and the long term. Think Apple vs Windows and Intel. Apple stays closed and charges premium prices. They end up with great profits but small market share.

So, you don't need an iPad today, but you should have a touch screen based tablet this year to make your job better and easier.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Online Financial Services

eMarkerter has an interesting post on consumer behavior related to online banking - or other online financial services.

The post says nearly 1/2 of all Gen Y folks intend to sign up for a new financial account in this year online.

I suppose for insurance agents the good news in the above chart is there is no mention of insurance policies as a financial account.

The most interesting thing missing to me is the checking account. The post gave no percentages on this but stated "except when it came to checking accounts, when they headed to a local branch".

Why is the checking account different? I don't know but I think insurance agents who figure this out will be ahead of the game.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Good Strong Look into the Future

The Business Insider had a great interview - see below if the embed ever works - by Henry Blogdet about the future of MicroSoft, Google, Apple, FaceBook - even Twitter.

I probably like it because I agree with it so much.

Assuming this is right, how should this affect your decisions and actions for your company?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Phone Based Facial Recognition

Ever seen someone you know but can't remember their name? It's OK, happens to all of us.

Nows there's a phone based augmented reality solution for that. Recognizr is an Android app that "is a mobile prototype that allows you to use your phone in order to "see" who a person is and what web services and social networks they're connected to."

Interesting post on 

Nice Video demos also.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Now Your Dog Can Tweet

Interesting item on Mashable about a new product from Mattel. Puppy Tweets dog collar lets your dog's movement create auto generated tweets through blue tooth connection on collar.

While this may or may not seem silly, to me this is really about the Internet of Things. What if instead of tweeting it was sending GPS co-ordinates. There are probably already products that do this.

What if instead of being on your dog, it was on your car - oh -like OnStar or the new Ford Sync products?

Why not use that stream to charge insurance rates? Been thought of a long time ago.

How many remember the original use of the OnStar system was to create a record of events in the 30 seconds before an accident to use for denying the claim?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Barber Got a Website

Two months ago my barber finally broke down and got a web site. Really just two pages of information and a link to directions with Google maps.

American Tobacco Barbershop

Now I love my barber. I've been going to her for over 20 years. She has worked solo most of that time and by appointment only. Last year she rented out her extra chair and starting taking walk-ins.

She isn't cheap - no SuperCuts pricing, but she is significantly less than the $400 our neighbor John Edwards apparently spends just a few miles away.

Her haircuts are very good, very consistent.

It is SEO'ed OK - not great. But it comes up first in local search because they did lots of things right. They listed the business in Google Local Business, Yelp, etc.

I did not ask what it cost. I could have done it for about $200.00 but I don't do this kind of thing.

It is not at all interactive and doesn't list prices.

So how much do you think it has made a difference?

In just two months 30% of new customers are finding them through the website. That is a 50% increase in new customers. How much would that be worth to your business?

Congratulations Joyce. Please add a scheduling calendar.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

If Rip Van Winkle Awoke Today

One of my favorite blogs is Confused in Calcutta. Recently he posted an article titled If Rip Van Winkle Had Slept 20 Years and Woken Up Today.

What a great post. Take the time to go see it.

A few - very few - highlights...

Access to the Internet - then USENET, now high speed mobile web

Personal computer - the Tandy 5000 for $8500., now $50 netbooks

What will it be next?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Measuring Twitter Content

ReadWriteWeb has a very interesting post about what type of messages are actually sent using Twitter.

Here is the chart from that posting...

It reminds me of a post I read about early telephone usage. Apparently some argued that phone time - even cell phone time - was too valuable to be wasted on just anything. But think about the "content" of telephone traffic. It is truly mostly about what you had for lunch and where you are or are going.

I think this is also what most web content is now. I think this is only going to become a larger and larger percentage of Twitter - and all other - web traffic.

It's about communications between real people.

I read a lot last month about how the mobile phone industry is going to be collecting all this data about us as we use our phones.

Pretending for the moment that we don't care at all about our privacy - and that is what all these plans about mobile phone use pretend - why is this not the way the land line phone industry has evolved? The answer to that will lead you to the questions about this mobile phone dream.

Personally, if my mobile phone is constantly trying to push ads at me, I will be looking for old fashioned public phone booths in a hurry. I Tivo televisions to get rid of interruption based advertising. I pay for satellite radio.

Every company thinks they can be the next Google based on advertising. The difference is Google makes money on search based advertising not on interruption based advertising. When I am searching for something I welcome ads. At all other times I hate ads.

If the content is not search but people talking to people like we do now on the phone, then businesses are making decisions based on what they want to believe, not on reality.

Twitter and Facebook and all the rest will survive as technologies we have found useful. No one will love them or stay with them - see MySpace - when they fill our idle time with unwanted ad spam.