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.


Jhon smith said...

This is a nice post. thanks for sharing. keep it up.

Bhimashankar said...

good blogging. appreciate your work.

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Trishanth said...

I like the way you describe the laptop as an obstacle separating you from having a natural experience with a client. Although it helps store/show/edit documents, the iPad does that but more importantly it also provides an actual interactive experience as if you and the client were looking at a single piece document and were able to amend it seamlessly.

And, also agree with you about tablets or slates in general. With more competition we will see more functioning devices, as the iPad is quite closed in some aspects.

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