I had to laugh the other day when I caught the end of a film from the late 1980s - big hair and even bigger mobile phones. As time has passed, the size of mobile phones has decreased at the same rate as their sophistication has grown. At what point did a mobile phone metamorphose from a device that makes phone calls, to a multi-media handset that stops just short of making the tea?
Take the new iPhone for example. You can store and view photos and videos, listen to your favourite songs, surf the web, send emails, take pictures…oh, and you can also use it to call your mum.
Our appetite for gizmos and gadgets is evident; over half a million iPhones were sold in the first weekend after it hit the shops. But what about those people who don’t want all-singing, all-dancing technology? What if you only want a phone, plain and simple, or you’re among the 21% of households who prefer not to have a mobile phone at all?
The great thing about technology is that it is constantly evolving, but the risk is that those who are slow to adopt or who choose not to, are left behind and their needs are no longer considered. As providers we are faced with a similar dilemma.
At one end of the spectrum we have intermediaries who run a fully e-enabled business and wholeheartedly welcome initiatives such as cross-portfolio back office data links and the ability to amend an application online after it has been submitted.
At the other, there are intermediaries who prefer, for whatever reason, not to operate a paperless office. While it is disappointing that some advisers are missing out on the full cost and resource efficiencies offered by e-business, we must take a reasonably pragmatic approach to achieve a balance that meets all our advisers’ needs at the same time as helping them to progress the adoption of technology.
The Origo-backed initiative Adviserwise is a good example of the industry working together to tackle this situation. The comprehensive website offers both entry-level information for advisers interested in adopting eServices, and a matrix of providers, products, services and platforms for those advisers at a more advanced stage of decision-making.
So will I be queuing overnight to buy an iPhone when they hit British high streets at the end of November? I doubt it, but if they really do make the tea I could be persuaded….
Dave Mace is head of eBusiness at Friends Provident.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.
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