It was fifty years ago that the Beatles arrived in America and changed the world. When it was happening, you knew it was somehow big, but even the most prophetic among us could not have imagined just how important it was. As a wee lad, I remember watching the Ed Sullivan show with my grandparents that night, somewhat transfixed. It was a different world on Monday.
Some years later, when Team Apple rolled out the iPhone and iPad, I recall thinking that this was interesting … but didn’t seem to solve a problem I had. My PC, laptop, TV, Blackberry, camera and stereo were all state of the art. Why would I need a new thing? Visions of another Newton danced in my head.
Boy, was I wrong.
While I still have all that other stuff, it is used far less often than it once was. And I now plug the iPhone into the stereo and control the TV from my iPad. I plug the iPhone into my PC in order to suck off the pictures.
Regardless of whose device is used now, mobile devices matter. A lot.
In fact, they have changed the world. I knew it had reached a tipping point when my wife, also a Baby Boomer, albeit one who doesn’t fancy technology, was peering over my shoulder while I was checking for flights on a laptop. In a gentle arc, her index finger gracefully touched the screen and gave it a gentle swoosh. Nothing happened.
Well, something happened. I doubled up in laughter … and realized that it is “game over”. The device is headed the way of my grandparent’s 78 rpm records and the rotary phone. They still work, but who cares?
Last week, my Greatest Generation mother announced that she was tired of going to the computer room to use the PC. What tablet should she get? Confirmation: put a fork in it.
And then I thought about other things in the last year. When I rent a car now, I get checked out on a tablet. When I went to a restaurant in China, the menu was on a tablet. When I took a helicopter ride at a local air show, the GPS hanging in front of me was on a Smartphone. When I had a chance to fly on a WWII bomber to commemorate the Doolittle Raiders, I checked in on an app … and the crew chief’s pre-flight checklist was running on a tablet as he prepared a plane built in 1942. And of course I can now pay bills, trade stocks, get my flight boarding pass and ride on Amtrak based on things I do or keep on a mobile device.
And my favorite recent experience: we recently went to see a Symphony performance. After warming up and while waiting for the conductor to arrive, a lead violinist pulled out his Smartphone and deftly flicked through some work. I wondered if he was updating his Facebook profile.
Which then gets me back to insurance which feels a bit like stepping through a time warp. I recently needed to replace a 10 year term life policy which had naturally and happily run its course. I was stunned to find just how arcane, antiquated, wasteful and expensive the whole process was. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw no technology in use that hadn’t been invented before 1980. Heck, back then I was still buying Beatles albums. On vinyl.
I was truly astonished at the lack of progress that has been made (probably since John, Paul, George and Ringo landed) in this area. For insurers this should be a wakeup call. I’ve probably bought my last Beatles album (this Internet thing looks like it might work out …) and I’ve probably bought my last life insurance policy. When I describe the Beatles landing my kids can’t quite figure out what to make of all the screaming … but they are consumed by spasms of laughter when I describe current life carrier processes and (lack of) consumer technology.
For carriers, the time to start thinking about mobile capabilities is now. Mobile matters. And cassette decks, VCRs, reel to reel tape and the Beatles aren’t coming back. Save nostalgia for another day.
Oh, and the Beatles record label was … Apple. Imagine that.