Digital Analytics: Key Questions Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 2)

Digital Analytics - Key Questions and Considerations for the Insurance Industry

If you’ve been following the series, you have a general baseline on how going digital can improve your overall business functions, but how can you gauge how well your investment is operating?
The answer: Digital Analytics!
The success of your digital strategy depends almost entirely on your implementation of meaningful digital analytics. They allow you to gauge your success and shortcomings, so you can allocate effort and resources where they’re needed.
Why hinge your organization’s success on assumptions, when you can base your decisions off of facts?
This second series will discuss the various stages of digital analytics implementation, as well as key questions that should be considered to optimize their use.

Stages of Implementing Digital Analytics

Understanding and getting ahead in analytics does not solely mean focussing on your website analytics. Although, you should definitely pay attention to your Google Analytics and optimise for increasing conversion.
In order to go fully digital, using analytics effectively means making the call to gather data from your entire range of channels, including website conversions, social media, online advertising, contract turnaround times, and contact data.

Stage 1: The Basics

When you begin implementing digital analytics, you should first focus on building a strong foundation analytics. Start by mapping out your operations process, from lead to customer. Break apart the process by identifying crucial touchpoints, for example, those touchpoints could be when a lead enters your sales funnel (Lead) and when the lead converts to a paying customer (Customer). From here you’ll have to start measuring the time taken for the actual conversion and assign it to the corresponding touchpoint.
Keeping track of these touchpoints and analysing the data regularly allows you to understand your operational flow and identify sectors or departments that require optimisation.

Stage 2: Lay the Groundwork

Once you have identified key touchpoints, now it’s time to begin tagging all of your pages, to obtain baseline information on how your users interact with each page. For example, you can see which of your pages are the most popular. Tools like Google Analytics and Mix Panel can help during the tagging process, by checking and alerting you about broken tags- so you never unintentionally neglect data! Keep in mind, solely using web analytics is not enough. The majority of the data you receive is descriptive and does not give you any actionable or meaningful insight. The ultimate goal is to build your web analytic strategy into a fully digital strategy. In doing so, the data you collect will be more useful, more in-depth, and can better guide your decision making. Instead of just knowing which pages are popular, you will be able to understand why. And, in turn, how to improve the pages that are not!
The most successful insurance businesses are fully aware that information is the lifeblood of the industry. Knowing when and how long a lead turns into a customer is absolutely crucial to understand bottlenecks in your sales process. You can start this process by moving from paper to a digital signature solution. This allows you to see the time it takes for a contract to be signed (I.e. Lead to Customer) in real time, streamline the process for your customer, and also give you an overarching look into your sales funnel.
Read how you can go paperless here.

Stage 3: Analytics Pro

Congratulations, you’ve almost made it to the finish line! It’s time to integrate multi-channel and multi-touch digital analytics across all your business platforms. In order for you to completely personalize and optimize your customer interactions, it is imperative that you fully understand their buying patterns/behaviours and preferences. As such, there should be a strong emphasis on customer and user analytics. Moreover, digital analytics provide predictive data. Meaning, you can better understand and foresee new customer trends, behaviours, and anticipate future outcomes, optimizing your efforts. IBM‘s Digital Analytics provide advanced analytics by tracking visitor behaviour over time, and across multiple touchpoints and channels. This tool can also compare your success with competitors, and give recommendations when warranted.

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY, a global leader in tax and advisory services, recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Are you rolling out analytics in tandem with digital?
  2. Do you have the right capabilities in place- — a strong analytics team & supporting tools?
  3. Are you capturing, storing and using current customer data to maximum value?

Before implementing digital analytics, you should have a general idea of how to approach each question. Since there’s no better time than the present, let’s get started:

Measure Your ROI With Digital Analytics

By 2019, global investments for digital transformations will amount to $2.1 trillion– with 70% of these initiatives predicted to fail! With this in mind, less than 15% of companies can quantify their digital initiatives ROI with traditional methods. It is more imperative than ever to start using digital analytics to gauge your investments ROI. You can see where you’re making money, cutting costs or, brace yourself… where you’re losing money. In essence, you can clearly see what’s working, and what isn’t, and how well your investment is paying off. As such, you can make improvements where necessary, and hold relevant people accountable. Some analytics you may want to track include: conversion rates, customer satisfaction, reduction in time costs, percent of revenue coming directly from digital channels, and percent of revenue enabled from digital channels.

Build Strong Digital Analytic Teams & Supporting Tools

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so don’t limit your strategy’s potential with poor teams or supporting tools.

People

The entire organization must be on board and supportive of the digital shift. Your organization’s culture must transform toward a digital-centric and customer-focused model. Aside from the obvious need for technical skills, the analytics team must have a deep understanding of your organizational goals, and of customer wants and needs. Only then can they properly leverage and interpret the data in a way that’s meaningful towards future success. Moreover, they may be the only employees who realize potential opportunities and weaknesses. In order for them to relay the results in a clear and effective way, they must have strong communication skills.

Tools

There are various tools you can use to support your overall analytical process. First off, Foresee can help you make needed improvements and revisions, by interpreting your analytics results. Matplotlib can help with data visualization, which would otherwise be time-consuming and tedious to create. Smart panda labs can help your team maximize its use of Optimizely. Smart Panda Labs help implement, personalize, troubleshoot, analyze results, and even provide recommendations accordingly.

Maximize Value by Using Quality Customer Data

Your results are only as good as your data. Currently, insurers are not taking advantage of the full potential of digital support. In fact, insurers rate themselves less than 2 out of 5, for overall customer experience. They are failing to communicate with customers during critical points in their buying process, and, consequently, missing out on huge opportunities. By using quality customer data, insurers can better understand their customers and properly communicate during all steps of the buying process. Accurate customer data allows you to better target your customers, decreasing costs and increasing conversion rates. Moreover, capturing, storing and utilizing current customer data gives deeper insights into the buying habits of your customers, giving you more accurate predictions of future behaviour. Unsurprisingly, according to McKinsey & Company, companies that effectively use customer analytics are more likely to outperform their competitors on key performance metrics, including profit, sales, sales growth, and ROI! In fact, with the use of customer analytics, profit and ROI almost double.
All in all, digital analytics are essential to fully maximize your digital transformation. They give you an in-depth understanding of what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve. Why do it the hard way when you don’t have to?
Like the saying goes, “assumption is the mother of all mistakes”.

Miss Part 1? Don’t worry, you can read more about how going digital can save you time, money and effort all while improving your customer’s experience from our previous post in the series!
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Technology: Key Questions the Insurance Industry Should Consider Before Going Digital (Part 1)

With the explosion of technology and rapid increase in online spending, a completely digital future is inevitable. In this series, we aim to answer key questions, examine various business and technology trends in the insurance industry, and breakdown critical statistics to help you take your business digital.  
In the first of this series, we discuss key questions that you need to consider before going digital.

Going digital with your insurance business and what you need to consider

Why does it seem like the insurance industry is stuck in the Stone Age?
With 40% of the world online, and more than 4 billion people connecting to the Internet every day, the future is undoubtedly digital. Consumers are already embracing the digital age, and expect companies to follow suit. In fact, before purchasing insurance 71% of consumers use some form of digital research to learn more about their options, and scope out company’s online presence. Research also shows that digitalizing your company can improve conversion rates by 20%, decrease cost reduction by 65% and shorten insurance processes by 90%. Unsurprisingly, there is a direct correlation between positive future growth and an implementation of technology.
Considering 79% of insurance firms believe they are behind the digital times, there is a huge opportunity for you to gain competitive advantage. Plus, going digital doesn’t have to break the bank.
Let’s start with the fun stuff and go over how dropping paper or going digital can help your organization save money:

Paper Vs. Digital Documents

Paper documents are more expensive, less efficient and less secure than digital. Unsurprisingly, without the use of paper, your office will drastically reduce the need for ink, printers, and, drum roll please… paper! If these seem like small expenses to you, the average employee goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year, amounting to a whopping $80 per employee. With these eye-opening numbers in mind, 47% of managers agree that the cost of paper is a major negative, with 61% saying they would welcome going fully digital. Paper is also less secure, as it can easily be forged, damaged and lost. According to GRM, 15% of all papers handled by individual businesses were lost, and it cost around $120 per company in labour to find them (and $220 to finally replace them). Is it really that hard to believe that paper would also be less efficient? Paper takes time to write (and find), print, send, and takes up space in the office, prolonging the entire process.
Going digital saves you time, money, effort and gives your important documents the protection they need. With digital documents, you are able to streamline distribution, sharing, information, tracking, and editing. Added bonus, no cluttered overfilled storage cabinets! All your files will be online, which you can access from anywhere, anytime. Leaving your employees with more time to do the important things, like attracting new clients and building stronger relationships with existing ones.

Before Going Digital: What’s Your Plan?

EY, a global leader in tax and advisory services, recently asked insurance firms some thought provoking questions:  

  1. Have you identified preferred platforms that align with a digital strategy?
  2. Can your operating model quickly detect and respond to shifting customer demand in digital space? If not, how can you develop this?

Before going digital, you should have an answer to the above questions. This may take some time, so let’s get started:

Preferred Platforms that Align with a Digital Strategy

Going digital may seem like an uphill climb, but there are plenty of resources out there to make things easier. These resources can help you at every step of the way, including your customer engagement, your customer onboarding, and your digital marketing strategy.
Nowadays, customers need and expect, a channel to openly communicate with companies.  Customer engagement builds trust and positively increases your company’s reputation. As such, you are able to attract new customers, build stronger meaningful relationships with existing ones and better personalize your content in the future. Therefore, you can better upsell and cross-sell to prospective clients. Moreover, customers research different policies and options before deciding, and they want to have the ability to easily communicate with a company representative to answer any questions they might have. Unsurprisingly, Gallup found that fully engaged customers are more loyal, and more profitable than the average customer. Increasing customer loyalty is especially important for insurance companies, as their average rate of retention is 10% lower than that of any other industry. Considering it can cost up to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an already existing one, this is a huge loss of profits. Luckily, there are tons of available tools that can help you. The company Aspire focuses its efforts on CRM and offers customer SMS messaging, social media integration and personalized reminders (so you’ll never miss a chance to wish your client a happy birthday!).
You should always prioritize customer experience. With the amount of freedom and choice, the average customer has, successful customer onboarding is increasingly important. Nearly 9 out of 10 customers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. Successful onboarding leads to a smooth and positive customer experience throughout their entire journey. As such, this generates customer loyalty, meaningful customer relationships, and generates more leads. Companies like Accenture allow you to reach your full potential and give customers the experience they want and expect. This service can help you create differentiated and compelling user experiences that increase engagement while lowering your transaction costs.
If you haven’t at least started to implement a digital marketing strategy, you are greatly missing out. Digital marketing allows you to reach specific target segments, expand your reach, and easily monitor your results. Through this, you can increase conversion rates, decrease cost per leads and build a positive brand reputation.
Oh, and did I mention you can do all of this, and save money?
A staggering 40% of small- to medium-sized businesses admitted to saving considerably by using digital marketing instead of traditional methods. Digital marketing also levels the playing field for small to medium sized businesses, allowing you to compete against the big guys. If that doesn’t convince you, let me throw in some numbers. It has been shown that companies who utilize a digital marketing strategy have 2.8 times higher revenue growth than those who do not, and, specifically, small to medium sized businesses have 3.3 times higher overall business growth rates. Companies like Applied can help implement your digital marketing strategy, by using simple digital marketing tools to not only increase your brand awareness but also to build a stronger brand reputation. This is done by helping you build professional websites, interact with customers, and use banner ads to upsell and cross-sell your products.

Digital Friendly Operating Model

You probably know by now, that digitizing your brokerage’s operation models can a significant, positive impact on your profit margins. Let’s take a look at some average day to day activities, and see how digitalizing your company can improve them:

1. Paperwork

Ahh paperwork, everyone’s favourite past time… perhaps, in an alternative universe.
But in this one, paperwork can be tedious, mundane, and frankly, can waste a lot of your precious time. Stop living in the past, and take advantage of one of the biggest trends to hit the insurance industry, eSignatures. eSignature companies, like Signority, offer a wide range of services that allow you and your business to fully transform into a paperless office. Digital documents enable you to quickly send contracts to customers, bypass time delays (like scanning or mailing) and send reminders to customers to sign. Additionally, you will no longer have to waste time analyzing forms to make sure all the required fields are filled in, let the software do it for you! You can also save time by building standard document templates, and by organizing all of your files in one central location. On the customer end, they will have the ability to complete forms from any location, and on any device.
As mentioned previously, experts agree online document services can be more secure than old-fashioned hard copies. Signority provides a detailed tamper-proof audit trail, that lets you know where, when and how your document is being used. You also have access to timestamps, user IDs and Ip addresses. Moreover, you can safely store all of your documents in the cloud, keeping them out of harm’s way (and ensuring they won’t be misplaced).

2. Communicate with Underwriting Team

As you may know, internal communication is extremely important. Since communicating with the underwriting team is probably a major part of your job, utilize digital technology and work smarter, not harder. Online communication tools like Slack can make your communication process as smooth and quick as possible. Slack allows you to organize conversations in channels, send direct messages, and even make calls. You can also drop and share any and all file types, and quickly search for important messages through your archives. Slack can be downloaded, and synced, on any platform (mobile, desktop, etc.). Through this, you can drastically shorten the communication process with your underwriting team, saving you time and effort.

3. Communicate with Current Customers  

According to Ryan Hanley, a prominent digital marketer — new insurance buyers want better digital communication and interaction. By going digital, you can open up a streamlined 24/7 communication line with your customers. This can increase customer satisfaction, resulting in long-lasting relationships, which, in turn, can create customer brand ambassadors. You can also implement an automated selling engine, enabling customers to build their own insurance policy, saving you precious time. Automated notification lists can also be implemented. For example, you can notify customers when their policies are expiring. Through this, you can increase your re-purchase rate and speed up the buying process. Clients can also digitize their claims. For example, when a client has been in an accident they can file a claim directly at the scene, speeding up the whole process.

4. Attract New Customers

A vital part of your job is to attract new customers; by digitalizing your process, you are able to connect with new customers farther and faster. Moreover, with the use of digital signature solutions, completing contracts is 80% faster; so you can register new clients faster! There are also ample opportunities for you to create innovative features to attract new customers. As explained by Harvard Business Review, Progressive has made buying insurance easier, by allowing potential customers to send photo’s of their driver’s license to generate quotes for their auto insurance.
Don’t be scared of change, embrace it! Going digital can save you and your company time, money, effort, and stress, all while improving your customer’s experience. Welcome all these new opportunities, go digital!

Your biggest challenge will be to figure out what to do with all your excess paper. My suggestion? After your profits skyrocket, throw a celebratory bonfire (using the paper as kindling, of course).  
Looking to go digital? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

India is going digital, how about you? India's story of digital innovations

Digital Innovations in India Are On the Rise

When you think of India from a technology or digital standpoint, what comes to mind?
Outsourced tech support?
Call center operations?
Outsourced research and development?
While India certainly has done all of the above, India should be known for something else, digital innovations. Often companies hold off on implementing new technology because change is hard, and rolling out a new way of doing things requires staff education, changes to internal and external processes, not to mention the difficulty articulating an ROI. I mean we have always done it that way and it worked…

India Switching Gears?

Well, India decided it’s time for a change, time to go paperless and are rolling out digital innovations at a dizzying pace for a country of that size. If you are looking for an example of “undertaking massive social and technological change”, just look at India.
Here are some examples, now imagine if these implementations took place in the states of New York, California or Ontario.
In the first week of February, India banned cash transactions over $4500 or Rs 300,000. That’s right, you got cash? No thanks; cash is king … up to a point. After that, it is digital.
The inability to prove an individual’s identity was a massive hurdle that prevented the poor from accessing benefits and subsidies. Enter the Unique Identification project, that provides every citizen with a Unique Identification Number, assuring that the benefits were received by the right person.
This further led to India building the world’s largest biometric identity system. According to MapR, the project uses MapR and Hadoop to create and maintain the world’s largest biometric database, which can verify a person’s identity within 200 milliseconds.
Down with paper, did you know that Delhi also banned all use of plastic bags this week?

India’s Top Digital Innovations

India has several very interesting projects on the go, from eHealth to Digital Lockers, they are innovating and looking to the future. According to Wikipedia, here are some examples of the projects that are currently being worked on:  

  1. DigiLocker
  2. Attendance.gov.in
  3. MyGov.in
  4. SBM Mobile app
  5. eSign framework
  6. e-Hospital
  7. National Scholarship Portal

Interestingly from our vantage point, India as part of their going paperless program has implemented an eSignature platform where citizens now digitally sign all contracts with the government, read more about India’s digital eSignature framework.
At Signority, we applaud India for this massive undertaking and are doing our part with our digital signature platform on this side of the planet to cut paper, reduce waste, and clean up the planet.
How has the conversation about going digital gone at your company, what are some of the roadblocks and success you have seen? We’d love to hear from you, send us a quick message at hello@signority.com.

Signority + Zapier Integration Lets You Automate Your Business Operations with Over 700+ Apps

Signority Announces Their New Zapier Integration

Ottawa, Canada – February, 20th 2017 – Signority, the easiest and most secure electronic signature platform serving the small and medium-sized business (SMB) communityannounced today, that it has integrated with the leading automated app integration platform, Zapier.  
Signority lets businesses to simply send, eSign, and securely manage documents with their end-to-end solution, allowing for a seamless end-experience for both users and businesses. The new Zapier integration makes it possible for customers to further automate processes and build workflows with just a few clicks, allowing businesses to save time and streamline operations — all without the need of a developer.
“This Zapier integration will make it easier for our customers to automate their operations or automatically store copies of their important documents into third-party apps like Google Drive or Box. We believe this will help our customers avoid complicated processes that can be an unnecessary burden and cause a negative impact on corporate revenue.”, said Samer Forzley, CEO of Signority.  
Cody Jones, Head of Business Development at Zapier said, “We’re excited to be working with Signority and look forward to seeing how this fast-growing startup can leverage our platform to help our current and future customers”

Signority’s customers can now integrate their Signority account with over 700+ apps via Zapier, some of those integrations include:
>> Google Sheets:  Easily export signer data to Google Spreadsheets  
>> Paypal:  Automatically send forms to be signed, after a payment has been received through PayPal
>> MailChimp:  Add new signers to a Mailchimp list to contact
>> Slack: Get messaged on a channel or privately as soon as a document is signed
>> SMS: Get notified by SMS once a document has been signed
>> Salesforce, Pipedrive and other CRMs:  Add client information into your CRM of choice, on completion of a Signority form. Also, automatically send contracts and other paperwork to your client once a sale is won.
>> Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox:  Save a copy of contracts, onboarding forms etc directly to Box
Following the recent announcement regarding their launch into the Chinese market, Signority is engaged in actively disrupting the electronic signature industry. The Signority – Zapier integration — aside from its obvious benefits — will help small and medium businesses out there automate their workflows and simplify day to day business operations.
To learn more about the integration of Signority and Zapier, visit https://zapier.com/zapbook/signority/
About Signority
Signority Inc. is an Ottawa-based SaaS company that is dedicated to make it easy and secure for growing businesses to legally sign electronic documents. Their platform allows for the management of legal document workflows by offering a digital signature solution to easily access, verify, sign and certify documents from anywhere in the world, on any device.
To learn more about Signority’s unique transparent pricing, visit: http://www.signority.com/pricing-transparency-electronic-signature/
For media inquiries, contact:
Dan Lawrence
(C/O Signority)
981 Wellington Street West,
Suite # 301
Ottawa, ON

Signority How-to’s: 5 Tools to Nail Your Customer Onboarding

top-10-customer-onboarding-tools

Customer onboarding is a lot like meeting the parents.
Remember the first time your significant other brought you home?
The whole experience was probably overwhelming, stressful and set your expectations on how future visits would play-out. If things went well, you probably felt at ease, comfortable and may have even enjoyed your experience (gasp!). However, if things went horribly, you probably re-thought your relationship’s potential or, at least, faked a business conference the next time you were invited over.  
You want to make sure every single user’s onboarding experience makes them excited about their future with you (but if they start sending you love notes and locks of their hair, you may want to be concerned). Successful onboarding generates long-term customer relationships, which, in turn, increases profits. Repeat customers become influencers and generate more leads, and they are easier to sell to than new customers (Ka-Ching!). According to Help Scout, not only is it 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than keeping a current one but also, loyal customers can be worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
Consequently, a positive customer experience can make or break your business. Here are 5 tools to help you nail your first impression, and build strong customer relationships (pun intended):

1. Optimizely

Optimizely allows you to test and personalize your customer’s journey, through experimentation. Through every level of your customer onboarding experience, this digital tool offers easy-to-use A/B testing, and multi-page experimentation. This function is available across multiple platforms, including mobile. Optimizely also lets you deliver targeted content in real time, reducing bounce rates and increasing users time on your site. You are able to build specific user personas through their browsing behaviour, demographic information and third party sources. By combining your targeted content with your most successful experiments, you are able to completely personalize and optimize the total customer experience. As such, you can effectively increase user engagement and, consequently, develop long lasting relationships with loyal customers. Furthermore, all this valuable information enables you to make better decisions faster, driving up your overall revenue.

2. Intercom

Intercom is an online tool that connects customer messaging for product sales, marketing, and support teams on one platform. You are able to target messages specifically to your users onboarding needs, chat with users in real time (and continue conversations with leads over email), and re-engage users whose activity is declining. All of their products are integrated onto one platform, making using it as easy as possible. Intercom offers a free trial, and afterwards, products are available for as little as $49 a month.  

3. WhatFix

WhatFix simplifies onboarding, improves support and reduces user training efforts. This digital tool allows you to create structured and interactive guides for users to follow. Their onboarding task list helps introduce users to important platform features you wish to highlight. You have the ability to personalize the onboarding experience to certain customer segments and gather data on how each user engages with your platform. Additionally, WhatFix has multi-browser support and multilingual support.

4. Auth0

User’s want to take the path of least resistance, they want their experience to be as straightforward and simple as possible. Auth0 provides practically every social login option without having you do any extra work. Users are able to sign up by the click of one button, rather than filling out long and intrusive forms. According to CXL, 86% of users are bothered by having to create new accounts on websites, and 77% see social login as a good alternative. Additionally, utilizing social logins also gives you valuable information from the users social profiles, allowing you to personalize their onboarding experience. Auth0 also lets you A/B test different configurations to optimize conversion rates.

5. Kissmetric

Kissmetric can increase user engagement, conversion and retention rates. This digital tool shows you overall audience behaviour, and more importantly, why visitors convert. You are able to take this audience behaviour, and set certain triggers to send nudges to users who exhibit certain intentions. With this information, you are able to optimize your site, and improve your overall marketing strategy and decisions. An added bonus, these analytics can be set up without writing a single line of code. Kissmetric can be easily integrated with any apps or platforms you are currently using. This tool can be a bit expensive, with starting plans at $220 per month, but with a proven 49% less churn rate, it just might be worth it.
Unsurprisingly, more and more companies are also integrating easy customer onboarding applications into their core services. For example, Signority offers its customers customized templates for simple onboarding and to avoid the tedious back-and-forth that customers often seek to avoid. Take advantage of all the services/tools available to you, and never scare away a customer again.
Like meeting the parents, customers want an onboarding experience that will make them feel welcome and comfortable. Utilize these tools and you’ll definitely be seeing your customers again and again.
Looking for seamless customer onboarding? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Part 1: The Top 5 Most Promising Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

The best industries and jobs for recent graduates

Do you hate that dreaded question at family get-togethers… “So, any plans after graduation?”
Do you wish you had the perfect answer to shut pompous Uncle Mike down?
Well, as a recent grad myself, I decided enough was enough. So, I rolled up my sleeves and began hunting for fresh new industries that would welcome recent grads with open arms!

Our List of Up and Coming Industries and Jobs for Recent Graduates

  1. Virtual Reality

All this talk about finding a job after graduation must just be a virtual reality – but I swear, it’s real! In fact, the virtual reality industry is expected to have a global market size of $1.7 billion this year (that’s an increase of over $1 billion!), and a revenue of $4.6 billion. This growth is expected to increase, with an expected global market size of $24.5 billion in 2020, and $80 billion by 2025 (the size of today’s desktop PC market!). Unsurprisingly, customers can’t get enough of virtual reality. The total number of active users is predicted to reach 90 million by this year, and 171 million by 2018.

  1. Health & Wellness

Today’s consumers are undoubtedly increasingly concerned over their health and overall wellness, as global industry sales are expected to amount to $1 trillion in 2017. This societal shift is present within all ages, from young to old, and it doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. In fact, the number of adults aged 60 is expected to double by 2050, which will increase their need for health and wellness products. Now for all the Canadian graduates, there has been strong growth in the Canadian health product sector, with an annual growth rate of 15% and economic contribution of $3.5 billion (and growing!). Looks like a promising industry, eh?
As a matter of fact, the #1 company on Fortune 100’s list of “fastest growing companies” is Natural Health Trends, a health and wellness company (surprised?). Just last year their revenue was $298 million, with a total return three-year annual growth rate of 211%.

  1. Drones

The drone industry is expected to explode in the next few years, with a predicted value of over $127 billion by 2020, and a compound annual growth rate of 17%. Drones are extremely multifaceted and diversifiable, and as such, can be used for just about anything (ie. they have huge potential!). For example, Air Shepherd has taken advantage of the many uses drones have and is using them to find wildlife poachers, in order to protect wild rhinos and elephants. Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap, predicts there will be a 400% increase in drone usage over this year.
Drone companies even made their way onto Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, with Ambarella making the top 10. Ambarella develops video compression and image processing solutions, which are crucial components of many drone cameras. Their total revenue for the past year was a jaw-dropping $303 million, with their shares increasing by 67% in the past 3 months.

  1. Marijuana

The marijuana business is definitely “smoking” hot. With over half of America’s 50 states legalizing marijuana, and Canada currently in the process of legalization, it is no surprise that legal marijuana sales will total a whopping $22.8 billion in 2020.
The pharmaceutical company INSYS therapeutics was also on Fortune 100’s list of fastest growing companies, placing in their top 5. They develop pharmaceutical cannabinoids to address the clinical shortcomings of existing commercial products. Their revenue last year alone totalled to $323 million dollars, with an earnings-per-share, three-year annual growth rate of 119%.

  1. FinTech

The FinTech industry has been taking the financial industry by storm, and there’s no sign of stopping. FinTech companies are better able to meet changing customer needs, by offering convenient, simple and online integrated services. By the year 2020, the global marketplace lending is expected to be valued at $500 billion. Moreover, by the year 2030, there will be a projected 2 billion new customers using their phone for financial services, with over 60% switching to mobile over the next five years. As such, they are leveraging traditional companies limitations and succeeding in areas where they are failing. Additionally, the number of new FinTech start-ups has created a landscape of innovation and competition, driving continued success.
Now you’ll always have an answer to that annoyingly tired question!
Show Uncle Mike exactly what you’re made of, and start focusing your efforts in industries with the most payoff.
Check out Part 2, where I segment different areas of promise within each industry, explain how you can get involved, and some awesome examples to get you started!
Interested in learning from the Pros? Check out our recent article on business experts you should look out for.   
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

The environmental cost of paper contracts on Valentine's Day

Valentine's day environmental cost infographic

Infographic: The environmental cost of paper contracts on Valentine’s Day

Flowers, especially roses, have always been a symbol of love, new beginnings, hope and are the ideal gift for Valentine’s Day. With this infographic we hope to let readers get an understanding of where these flowers come from, how many paper contracts get signed in the process, and most importantly, what the environmental effects are of the said paperwork. 
Signority Valentines Day and paper contracts Infographic 2017
The explosion of technology and rapid increase in online spending, are proving that a complete digital future is inevitable. Yet, the flower industry still seems to be using dated paper contracts, directly resulting in hundreds of trees lost in the process and other negative environmental effects, for no reason. We decided to go with a high-level visual representation and focused on calculating the wastage of paper in only one major step of the big supply chain that makes Valentine’s Day happen, since we believe it covers some of the more critical data that impacts all of us — be it a consumer or business owner. We hope to help businesses rethink their paper contract processes and help avoid wastage by going digital.
We’d love to know what you think, tweet us your thoughts and reactions @Signority.
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”On Valentine’s 750M+ stems to be sold = 400+ trees killed in paper contracts”]
If you are in an organization with cross-border business operations, we invite you to read our guide to International Contracts.
Bonus: Businesses ready to go paperless are invited to read our post that outlines 5 ways to achieve a paperless office today.

How to avoid: The 3 big costs most businesses incur today without realizing

Business-Process-Management-and-pitfalls-of-ignoring

As any growing business,  we at Signority are constantly looking for ways to become more efficient in our operations. In a recent chat with our friends at Indellient — experts in business process management — we explored internal areas and processes to improve our business. Katie Hulan, their Marketing Manager, was gracious enough to accept our invitation for a guest post to share her insights for other small businesses.
As businesses, we are often fixated on the next immediate business need – shipping the next version of our product, making that next big sale, fixing that bug, applying for funding. These outward-facing or revenue-driving activities are the first to be given resources as they are directly related to the success of your business. But what about what’s happening internally? Are you set up to be as efficient as possible? Believe it or not, business success comes quicker when your team is set up to be successful first. And that, my friends, is where business process management (BPM) comes to play – it is a systematic approach to making the workflow of an organization more efficient, effective and capable of adjusting to an ever-shifting environment. A business process is an activity or group of activities that will achieve a goal of the organization. So, when your people, who, by the way, are your greatest asset of the company, are equipped with productive processes and effective tools, they are better prepared to meet the goals of your organization.  

There are many costs that an organization can incur if the business process management is not implemented.  

  1. First, the cost of customer support. Customers can easily get discouraged when they do not receive services efficiently and satisfactorily. Due to poor organizational workflow and not adapting to the changing environment, the customers will lose morale and migrate to those that have adapted to modern technology and with efficient services. In today’s world, you know that when customers complain about their dissatisfaction, they don’t complain to you but to the public instead. And the customers are good at this! Allow me to explain. The increasing popularity of social networks acts as a forum for frustrated customers to talk about their awful experiences with given companies and it spreads like wildfire! Now, this is very costly to the business since it implies the loss of loyal potential customers, loss of reputation, and profit.And when the organization fails to meet its financial goals, it cuts costs by reducing the number of employees. Cue the loss of morale and confidence because job insecurity takes away their focus from work. Obviously, the moment there is a shift in attention, productivity declines and more absenteeism follows and customer complaints rise. Thus it becomes a fierce cycle.
  1. Opportunities! Missing opportunities can be disastrous for businesses. Indecision, or, not taking advantage of the chance to make a decision, leads to its own costs and those costs more often are beyond that of a bad decision.  Bigger costs of inaction are the cost of missed opportunities. One of the major factors that lead to missed opportunities is the failure to adapt to the ever-changing environment, a role that Business Process Management accomplishes very well. It is commonly said that opportunities come once in a lifetime and therefore should be seized immediately. You may not calculate the exact cost of missed opportunities, but it is great. This is because, without an organized effort to find them, the opportunities to increase the performance will go un-noticed.
  1. Engaged Employees. A study conducted by the Gallup in 2015 shows that 32% of U.S workers were considered engaged in work.  Most of the employees were not engaged that is 50.8%, while the 17.2% were actively disengaged. The detailed research of Gallup reveals that the engagement of the employee is powerfully linked to business results, an element essential to the success of the financial goals of the organization, measured by productivity, profitability and customer engagement. Employees that are engaged are involved in the innovation, development, and revenue that their companies aim at.

    The “engaged” workers are those that were considered as having an opportunity to do their best on a daily at the workplace and had somebody to encourage and recognize their opinions as workable. These elements foretell the outcomes of the performance of the organization.Gallup further describes the engaged employees as those who participate and are enthusiastic about their work. Thus the research outcomes, according to Gallup, indicate clearly that employee engagement is strongly linked to business results. Lastly, the study concludes that the engaged employees boost the development, innovation, and revenue that their companies aim at.

In general, the cost of the inaction of Business Process Management is huge and leads to a vicious cycle. Right from customer support, loss of staff, inefficiencies, the cost of missed opportunities, reputation damage to loss of profits.  All these lead to a general decline of business efficiency, stagnation and may end up in the closure of business.
As you look to optimize your processes, take note of the 5 predictions for BPM in 2017.
Interested in BPM solutions? Look at this evaluation criteria for BPM.

About the Author

SMB_Growth_Katie_HulanThe author Katie is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Indellient, a software development and IT professional services firm that helps companies meet and exceed their critical technology and business objectives. Katie writes about the importance of effective business process management and how it is a revenue-driver for organizations today. She also explores topics on competitive advantages, marketing, and more. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

The 4 Biggest Emerging Insurance Trends and Its Implications

Top 4 Emerging Insurance Trends

Emerging trends, such as driverless cars, P2P insurance and electronic signatures, have disrupted the usually steady world of insurance. But how exactly have these emerging insurance trends affected and changed the industry?

Let’s take a look at some of the emerging insurance trends!

Driverless Cars

Since the emergence of Tesla’s electric cars and the way they took the automotive market by storm, competitors and disruptors, and Tesla themselves, are looking into introducing fully autonomous cars as soon as two years time. Naturally, this changes things significantly for the insurance world. As this market continues to develop, insurers will need to consider potential risks to drivers, passengers and cars, as well as who (or what) is ultimately held responsible.

Driverless Cars Explained

Driverless cars sense their surroundings through integrated circuits and advanced technology, without the help of human input. As such, they provide users with a safer and more convenient means of transportation. Their way of operation includes different levels of autonomy:

  1.     Driver only – self-explanatory
  2.     Driver assistance – automated only for steering, acceleration and braking
  3.     Full autonomy – the car can travel on its own without a human present in the vehicle
  4.     High autonomy – requires human control only periodically during the trip, but are otherwise automated
  5.     Partial autonomy – drivers can interfere only in the event of an emergency

Implications for the Insurance Industry

The whole point of auto insurance is to protect people from human or mechanical error, but what happens when human error is eliminated? The main issues the insurance industry needs to tackle are as follows:

  1. Personal Insurance – Since the drivers essentially become passengers, who will be held accountable in case of an accident? The driver, car manufacturer, or both?
  2. Commercial Insurance – With companies such as Uber or Lyft using driverless cars to take their passengers’ places, how will these vehicles be insured if an accident occurs while on duty?

Driverless cars transitioned quickly from a radical idea to a very real product, with a very fast adoption rate. The insurance industry needs to adapt to these new changes just as quickly.

P2P Insurance

When Lemonade entered the insurance market this past fall, everyone with at least minimal knowledge in insurance knew things were about to change. The implications for the insurance industry were very deep, even though they only operated in New York. Unsurprisingly, requests for expansion into other states were made as soon as it launched. What will this mean for the insurance industry long-term?

P2P Insurance Explained

Peer-to-peer insurance is simpler than it sounds. It’s when a group of people with a mutual cause gather their money in one place, which is then used to pay the claims of any of the members in case of an accident. Usually, companies offering this type of insurance have a backup top-insurer supporting them in case the sum is too big for them to cover. Lemonade uses unpaid claims to support causes close to the heart of the insured. As such, customer trust in their company is bigger, and the tendency to find ways to circumvent the system is considerably lower. Since the company’s profits do not depend on what claims they can and can’t deny you.

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Even though the insurance industry has started to shift, P2P companies have not yet completely and irrevocably disrupted the market. P2P insurance exploits one of the biggest flaws of traditional insurance companies, by inspiring trust and a sense of community with their customers. However, when P2P companies go to traditional insurance companies for help in controversial cases, this newly placed trust in P2P companies will wear off. With that being said, the fact that this new model emerged at all, and has the success it has had so far, existing companies will rethink their stance on insurance going forward.

Drones

As the number of private drone enthusiasts increases and a growing number of commercial drones take flight, so do the risks associated with them. Aside from providing insurance to drones or unmanned vehicles, they hold large potential for changing the insurance game, from fighting fraud to increasing accuracy in risk-management and tailored pricing.
According to Dean Anderson, National Aviation Practice Leader, Wells Fargo Insurance, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that approximately 2.5 million drones/unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will be sold this year, with almost 600,000 used for commercial purposes. The trend leaves a vast unknown in the aviation insurance sector, one that presents excitement, new product development, and a changing underwriting mentality. With widespread US-potential, industries such as industrial inspection, agriculture, real estate, aerial photography, government, and others are investing considerable amounts of money into this emerging industry.”

Drone insurance explained

Drone insurance acts like any other insurance policy. If a drone is damaged in an accident or lost, the loss is covered to an extent by the insurance company. 
There are primarily two types of insurance coverages, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) insurance provided to the all:  Manufacturer, Owner and Operator Coverage.
And non-owned UAV / UAS Liability Coverage: coverage to companies or individuals that use or hire UAVs that they do not own and that are operated by third parties.
Some of the pre-requisites for these type of insurance are:

  • Buyer or operator’s proof of training
  • Maintenance of drone operational logs
  • Parts or add-ons purchased so far

Implications for the Insurance Industry

Increasing accuracy during catastrophes
During catastrophes, drones can play a critical role in surveying the damage of the insured property. The flexibility of drones allows for immediate surveying and reporting, allowing for a speedy insurance process.
Risk-management
According to PWC’s recent report “Clarity from Above”, drones could be used for instantaneous data collection and risk monitoring. With immediate access and improved quality of data. Insurance companies could easily assess high-risk areas and notify customers of those high-risk areas, ultimately helping them avoid those risks.
Tailored pricing
By often performing hazardous work, drones access and collect critical data sets that effectively allow for insurance companies to provide their customers custom pricing.

eSignatures

Initially frowned upon by lawmakers for its perceived poor cyber security and the consequences of having important legal information stolen, eSignatures are the new norm. The advancement of technology pushed insurers and the laws governing insurance companies to catch up with the times and start using eSignatures as part of their daily work.

eSignatures Explained

Like we mentioned in our previous post “Quick Reference Guide: Electronic Signatures & the ESIGN Act. According to the eSign Act, an eSignature is “any sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” If that definition sounds vague or unclear, don’t worry. That’s sort of the idea; it is, after all, “legal-ese”. In plain English, however, the above definition simply “states” an eSignature as a legal concept. That is, its legal definition simply means that it is possible for an electronic signature to carry the same sort of legal “weight” as its pen-and-paper equivalent.
Let’s take a quick look at the basic components of an electronic signature:
Consent:
Basically, any individual who signs an electronic document must explicitly consent to do so in the first place. Should an individual choose not to consent to an electronically signed agreement, a non-electronic option must be made available.
Intent:
In the simplest terms, this means that the signer clearly understands his or her intent to sign the document, and the process by which the individual signed the document was clear and understood from beginning to end.
Verification:
For an electronic document to be considered legally binding it must be signed by the same person whose signature appears on the dotted line. In turn, most electronic signature solutions have built-in verification methods.
Auditability:
This is the electronic equivalent of a “paper trail,” (popularly know in the electronic signature industry as an ‘Audit Trail’) whereby each party involved in an electronic agreement (or a legal entity, for instance) can if necessary, easily access each step of the electronic signature process. You can read more about the anatomy and importance of an audit trail in our post titled “The Anatomy of an Audit Trail: Electronic Signature Simplified”.
While the most known type of an eSignature is the drawn signature, there are other types as well:

  1. Click to sign – these include tick boxes, e-squiggles, scanned images, and typed names. However, they are not considered as a functioning signature. As such, they are commonly used in addition to other types of eSignatures
  2. eSignatures – These typically involve the signer applying their hand-signature mark on the document, which is then protected with a cryptographic digital signature
  3. Advanced and Qualified eSignatures – AES and QES use unique signing keys for every signer, as such, they provide the highest level of trust and assurance. These unique signing keys directly link the user’s identity to the signed document, so anyone is able to verify the signature using an industry standard PDF reader

Implications for Insurance Industry

eSignatures makes life much easier for insurance brokers. eSignature companies like Signority revolutionize document signing and management by creating seamless digital transactions for your customers. Experts agree eSignatures close sales quicker, are more secure and traceable than paper and can be easily integrated into already existing business processes. You are able to securely maintain legal electronic copies of every document, keeping your documents safe from any harm. Communication is also simplified, so much so that it only takes a few minutes to set up, draft, sign and file any necessary documents… no more long days waiting for documents to arrive by mail! Everything is automated and digitalized and at your disposal. To learn more about the habits of highly effective insurance brokers, click here.
While driverless cars and P2P insurance have both positive and negative effects on the insurance market, eSignatures and drones impact looks to be solely positive. We will see in later years how each one of these trends will change the way insurance works, but for now, we can safely say things are looking up!
Disclaimer:
This post focuses on technology and its impact on the North American insurance sector, specifically. It’s important to point out that Signority is not an insurance company, nor are we the expert authority on the subject. However, we have referenced experts often in this post. It would be equally wise (and perhaps a bit obvious) to point out that the insurance industry is incredibly complex. Admittedly, this post is a brief, simplified look at a complex topic.
 
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan for 14-days.

Hand-picked business growth reads

Top business growth reads - January 2017 Signority

Here at Signority, we strive to improve ourselves, our product, our company and the lives we touch. That goal requires a level of commitment to keep making things better and more efficient. Making things better requires us to be open-minded and challenge the status quo. This is why every day, we make the time to look outward at leaders and change-makers – in our community and far away – to learn from their stories.
Recently, it occurred to us that we should share with you a list of the top business articles our team stumbled upon this past month. We hope this helps you and your business to grow and keep improving at whatever your craft is.

On Managing your Business

From Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group
Brad Feld, a successful entrepreneur and early stage investor. Brad shares with us his views on organizational structures. He describes for us what he calls, “The Three Machines” (Product, Customer, and Company). This is one of our top business articles for any business owner or leader starting a company or looking to shake things up!
>>> Read “The Three Machines” <<<
From First Round Review
We love what they write at the First Round Review, seriously, big fans! When they started out, they claimed their goal was “to become the Harvard Business Review for Startups” and they do not disappoint.
In this post, they share the importance and benefits of finding advisors for your business early on, and how to find the best advisors for you.
>>> Read “Snag the Best Advisors for Your Startup, from Best-selling Authors to Fortune 500 CEOs” <<<
In this post, First Round covers, at length, many strategies to develop your team. Seriously, great insights and best practices you can put to work ASAP.
>>> Read “Three Powerful Conversations Managers Must Have To Develop Their People” <<<

On Marketing & Growth

From Pierre Lechelle, SaaS growth thought leader
Pierre shares his model to help you audit and analyze business growth. The main goal is to give you all the keys you need to develop a cohesive strategy. Plan to lose yourself for an hour or two with this top business article and other posts on his site. They rock.
>>> Read “How to Perform a Growth Audit” <<<
From Alvin Hsia, Product Designer at AirBnB
This is an 11 min read from late last year but it has so much that I’m sure you will immerse yourself in it for a lot longer. Any time you put in here is worth it as you’ll end up knowing so much more about the human mind. This new knowledge will sure help you in your communications, marketing and more.
>>> Read “Cognitive Bias” <<<
From Rand Fishkin at Moz
Rand shares his 8 predictions for SEO this year, as well as, shows a frank grading of his 2016 predictions. If you are into optimizing your site for better ranking, please read their blog. This post is a good start.
>>> Read “8 Predictions for SEO in 2017” <<<

On Tools to Increase Productivity

From Product Hunt
This post shows a list of key tools to help you in your writing. Mentions include: Hemmingway Editor, Bold.io, Refly.it and more.
>>> Check out: “9 Tools That Will Help You Become a Better Writer” <<<

Bonus: Brand New Companies to Check Out

>>> See if your new business venture name already exists at Viable <<<
>>> Find the best tools to built your chat bot with BotsFloor (Still in beta, so request an invite) <<<
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So, here it is, from now on, we’ll be sharing with you, our top reads of the month. Please share any interesting reads you found with us hello@signority.com or ping me directly here @gustavojsm or on LinkedIn.
Gustavo 👊