Health warning to all insurers – don’t catch widget fatigue, it’s a epidemic with dizzying symptoms.

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MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAn epidemic is sweeping the vehicle insurers.

It’s symptoms are easy to detect: gadget fatigue.

A wearing dizziness when faced with the next presentation showing that this gadget, that device, this app is the next best thing which, unless taken up immediately (by which we mean yesterday) your business will be swept away.

This week’s Munich conference is no exception – the virus is rife.

The exhibitions programmes are full of:

  •  boxes
  • dongles

  • smartphone apps
  • on-board cameras

  • green driving apps
  • eco driving boxes

All which come with elaborate (and necessary) systems of support and administration.

But according to research conducted by US consultants this approach is completely wrong by being back-to-front. What is needed is a strong head and a big dose of common sense.

Speaking in Chicago Towers Watson said that focussing on devices

‘will not necessarily add value to the business’.

It pointed out that – like anyone planning a business enterprise sober consideration has to be given to working out:

  1.  How is success to be defined – is this above the line, below the line, supporting some other objective – selling the business as a going concern, selling the business as a proposition only, developing a loss-leader with a view to long term gain – or what?
  2. What are the objectives – to gain a foothold in the field and develop? Or, get an idea of the issues and risks with a view to exercising the option to develop or pass on?
  3. How does this fit with the present brand – good fit – no fit at all?
  4. What sort of customers are we after?
  5. What have we got to offer – more of the same – or something different or unique.

The last thing, these and other consultants have hinted at is to get caught up by the fascinations of particular gadgets – all of which have good points while on the exhibition stand or still in the box, but all of which have the habit of developing annoying little faults which later turn out to be substantial obstacles which require deep pockets to resolve.

 And the treatment?

The first thing is to put aside issues of the consultant’s self interest – in first raising an issue so as to demonstrate it is only that particular consultancy that can provide the remedying measure.

Discussion of the issues reveals that the medicine to take when affected by the widget paralysis symptoms is nothing more than to understand the market being pursued – is it green driving, other eco issues, safety, emergency, anti-theft – each of which requires a different way of looking at the issues.

And as the conference halls frequently hear, the people best placed to resolve all this are those at presently employed within the insurance enterprise and not to be found in the glass palaces of the consultants.

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Jonathan Coe, Editor

Journalist and comms specialist for over 40 years – trained in print, broadcasting, and industrial intranet. Written about comms policy (eg. as radio editor at Time Out); held senior comms roles in public bodies (National Health Service, local government) and privatised undertakings (London Electricity – now Electricité de France). Since, has developed interests in the ordinary citizen's use of judicial review to challenge irrational decisions of government and the use of rights (like the Freedom of Information Act) to explore irrational decisions (like the BBC's original decision to close the BBC digital radio service BBC 6 Music).