Startup Life: 5 More SME Industries Ripe for Digital Signatures – Part 2

Startup Life: Digital Signature Solutions for 5 More SME Industries

I’m back with the second instalment of digital signature solutions for SME industries! Once again, I’m ready to prove that eSignatures can enhance any industry.

Without further ado, let’s get started with our top 5 industries:

1. Education

The education sector deals with a lot of paperwork. Schools must keep track of thousands of students and employees. If things aren’t done as efficiently as possible, this can quickly become overwhelming and completely unorganized. Digital signature solutions will make sure things run as smoothly, and efficiently, as possible. They can do so in many ways, such as providing staff with pre-built templates. Instead of creating individual documents for each recipient, staff can save a tremendous amount of time by sending out these pre-built templates. Not only will this help the staff, but it will also enhance student services and a student’s overall experience. Administration can speed up important processes, such as admission, course changes, and student loans. Moreover, the document sender can view real-time updates, and send reminders when necessary.

2. Construction

Digital signature solutions can keep projects on time, unify all parties, and manage important documents in one place. With their ease of use and instant delivery, projects will never be delayed from the unnecessary waiting and back and forth handwritten signatures bring. Moreover, since there are usually several teams involved, this can exacerbate the waiting period and make everything that much more complicated. Using electronic signatures keeps everything in one place, unifies all parties and opens a direct line of communication, through real-time updates. By sending automated reminders, you can ensure all activities stay on track.

3. Customer Service

eSignatures can drastically improve the overall customer experience. Agents can respond faster to customer inquiries, keep customer information current, and eliminate clerical errors. Using electronic signatures streamlines field support, allowing agents to acquire customer signatures faster! On the flip side, customers can sign from anywhere, anytime, and on any device— increasing overall customer value! For both parties, eSignatures makes the entire signing process easier, simpler, quicker and hassle free!

4. Finance

The finance industry is extremely paper heavy. Paperwork must be signed for virtually every transaction. As you may know, paperwork is particularly tedious, mundane and, frankly, a waste of time. eSignatures solve this problem, by bypassing traditional time delays— never miss a deadline again! For example, every document requires meticulous review, which would normally fall under an agent’s responsibility. By using electronic signatures, the software can do it for you! As such, the entire transaction and approval process would be shortened and quickened. With all this newfound free time, agents can focus their work on what really matters, their clients. Moreover, eSignatures are legally binding, and far more secure than handwritten signatures. Digital contracts have stronger transaction security and reduced opportunity for fraud. Additionally, they require signature authentication and provide users with an audit trail.

5. Human Resources  

Human resources can benefit from using electronic signatures in a multitude of ways. Ditch the paperwork, and make signing documents easier for new hires and for internal operations. You can create and reuse templates, and ensure all the required information is correctly filled in. Additionally, you can even cut the time it takes to obtain signatures in half— just imagine, no longer having to chase employees to sign! You can also keep track of all employee contracts and milestones in one safe and secure place. Through this, you can onboard, manage and transition employees smoothly— plus, it’s a great first impression for new hires!
Digital signature solutions are quickly making paper contracts obsolete and for good reason. Stop living in the past, and experience their immense benefits first hand!
Miss Part 1? Click here to learn about more industries that can be enhanced by eSignatures.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Team Plans.

Digital Readiness Scorecard

Your Digital Readiness Score

Before you decide to take your business fully digital, you need to assess your current situation. From this, you will have a better understanding of where your business is, how you can get to where you want it to be, and most importantly, your digital readiness in the fast-moving business landscape.  
EY, a global leader in consulting and advisory services, distinguished 4 key elements you should assess: corporate strategy, customer strategy, enabling capabilities and a digital roadmap. To grow from a digitally stunted strategy to digitally mature, these four parts need to be aligned and optimized.
Throughout this post, we’ll help define key components that you need to take into consideration in order to understand your digital readiness. We’ve also set up a slick Digital Readiness Scorecard” calculator that you can use for free to help assess your current standing.
But before you can begin your assessment, you need to know what each category is:

Corporate Strategy

Corporate strategy is your businesses compass, as it outlines the scope and direction of the entire corporation. This strategy explains how each business function should work together, to not only achieve strategic goals but also to create a competitive advantage. In fact, some would argue corporate strategy is the leading driver of a successful digital transformation, even surpassing technology.

Vision & Mission Statement

One of the biggest separations between digital leaders and, well, losers, is a clear digital culture. To ensure a smooth and positive digital transition, the entire company must be onboard and supportive. The vision and mission statement communicates and outlines the central purpose of the organization and its long-term objective. It sets a tone for employees to follow, and unifies the employees with the same sense of purpose, having everyone work towards a common goal.

Digital Ambition

A full digital transformation requires full dedication and determination. Everyone must be ready to give their all— you get what you give! All employees must be encouraged to take risks, collaborate and innovate. Over 80% of digitally mature companies agree that their workplace emphasizes collaboration, compared with only 34% of digital newbie companies. Moreover, one of the biggest challenges in executing digital readiness strategy is creating a culture of innovation. You shouldn’t limit your employees, motivate them to think outside the box!

Financial Objectives

The most common reason digital transformations fail is due to a disconnect between ambition and level of investment. Outline your financial objectives, for short and long term. Get a clear picture of what resources you currently have, and create a budget. From this, you can allocate your resources to the most urgent matters, and set a realistic financial plan. Moreover, you can also create certain benchmarks to gauge how well your money is being spent (and whether your investments are paying off). All business functions depend on sound financial planning. By formalizing and coordinating your different business functions, you can unify them towards the big picture. And by anticipating financial requirements, you can better prepare for future expenditures.

Customer Strategy

A customer strategy focuses and emphasizes the importance of the customer service. This includes CRM, customer satisfaction, customer engagement, customer loyalty, and overall customer experience. With a customer-focused strategy, there is a deep understanding of customer needs, behaviours, and values.

Segmentation & Personas

To optimize your efforts, you should have a clear understanding of who your target base is. Through this, you can better personalize your entire customer strategy, provide customized digital features, and targeted marketing plans. You can develop a multi-channel view of your customers’ persona, and effectively communicate on all touch points. Customers will build stronger relationships, deeper loyalty, and can even become brand advocates. This will increase your overall efficiency, conversion rates, all while decreasing risks and costs!

Customer Journey & Experience

By identifying your intended customer journey and experience, you can better dissect where you currently stand, and how to reach your end goal. You can determine the needed milestones, and delegate required responsibilities. Customer experience has become increasingly important, and creating a positive customer journey through all touch points is crucial your business success.

Research & Insight

In order to base these understandings off facts, you need to do your homework. Basing any of these elements off assumptions can greatly increase your costs and risks. Additionally, you should strive to delve deeper than surface level— really get to know your customers. Understand the motivating factors behind their purchase decisions and buying habits.
Check out our free and easy-to-use “Digital Readiness Scorecard” calculator and start planning for your digital future now.

Enabling Capabilities

I hate to break it to you, but without the needed technology and tools, your digital strategy is just an idea. Your company’s digital capabilities are the fundamental building block for a successful digital transformation. Without the right support in place, nothing can flourish.

Technology & Tools

Digital transformations rely heavily on technology and specialized tools. They should be adaptable, dynamic, and centred around customer experience, operational processes and your business model. Predictably, mature companies utilize digital technologies and tools to achieve their strategic goals. Over 70% of mature companies encourage their employees to innovate with digital technologies, compared with only 28% of less mature companies. An extremely important facet of these technologies/tools includes digital analytics. As discussed in our previous post, digital analytics allow you to gauge your strategies success and shortcomings, so you can make improvements where necessary. They also give more precise data, allowing you to make better more informed decisions. Unsurprisingly, over 80% of digitally mature companies view digital technology as an opportunity.

Operational Model

Your operational model should fully support your digital transformation. Since your operating model facilitates the delivery of your business model, it must be digitally friendly. In other words, this model should align your business operations with your overall digital strategy. In fact, digitally mature companies transform their entire business processes, not just individual functions. Through this, you can increase control, efficiency, coordination and integration. This will have a significant positive impact on profit margins, and make it easier to break down roles, milestones and important KPI’s.

Digital Governance Framework

Your digital governance framework is the central component of a successful digital transformation. As you may know, this should align with your company’s structure, culture and strategic priorities. The policies and standards set forth outline what is acceptable and what is expected of each employee. This enables fast decision-making, increases accountability and can resolve internal conflict. Moreover, it shows the full picture, managing the chaos a digital shift can ensue, and making a smoother transition. To further mitigate risk and monetary costs, your digital governance framework should be adaptable and dynamic.

Digital Readiness Road Map

A full digital transformation can seem daunting and overwhelming, but creating a digital road map can help you organize your thoughts and simplify the process.  Your road map helps plan the entire transition, by visualizing your end goal, and showing how you can get from point a, to point b. As explained by EY, it creates an organizational consensus on the focus, goals and requirements for digital readiness and analytics. Just like it sounds, without a digital road map, your strategy is directionless!

Digital Initiatives

Well thought out and executed digital readiness initiatives can give your organization a competitive advantage. When organizations mature, they focus on the following four initiatives: social, mobile, analytics and cloud. These initiatives should be integrated, and aligned with your overall strategy. Through this, you can increase customer engagement, tap into new profit pools and expand your overall reach.

Prioritization

During the shift, everything may seem important, so it is important for you to take a step back beforehand, and organize your thoughts. Review what your top priorities are, so you can use your resources in the most efficient way possible. The level of your digital readiness lies in your ability to set objectives and follow through. This enables fast decision-making, resolves conflicts (since no one is fighting over what to do next), and saves money. Change from chaos to organized chaos!

Benefits Model

During the planning process, you should know all of the associated costs and benefits of different initiatives. You should assess each individual initiatives need, value, impact and risk. In doing so, you can ensure you better plan your strategy, and earn the biggest ROI.
If you feel a bit overwhelmed after reading about what it entails to be digitally ready, don’t worry. Only 15% of companies at early stages of digital maturity have a digital strategy. Our goal is not to transform your business overnight, but to give you the information you need to ensure a successful digital transformation long-term.
Check out our free and easy-to-use “Digital Readiness Scorecard” calculator and start planning for your digital future now.

Digital Signature Solutions for SMEs (Part 1)

Learn benefits for using digital signature solutions for SMEs

Name any industry and I can almost guarantee they would benefit from digital signature solutions. But for the sake of saving us time, I’ll just cover 5 industries today and the benefits of using digital signature solutions for SMEs.
eSignatures increase efficiency, security, customer satisfaction, all while saving time, money and effort. Not to mention all the environmental benefits from ditching paper!

See how using digital signature solutions for SMEs can streamline your daily operations:

  1. Medical marijuana

The very existence of medical marijuana businesses proves the traditional way of doing things is not always the best. It’s only fitting for this new up and coming industry to use innovative signature signing, eSignatures! With eSignatures, you can register new clients and patients quickly, from any location and any device. You can also better manage patient information, by using a secure and centralized storage space. Remove barriers for new client sign ups, and watch your business light up (pun intended).

  1. Insurance

By using electronic signatures, insurance firms and agents can sign more customers, faster. They can bypass traditional time delays (like scanning), drastically reduce the need for paperwork, send automated reminders to recipients, and reduce the number of uncompleted documents, accelerating the entire signing process. They strengthen collaboration between all parties, streamlining the entire process. This also improves the overall customer experience. Not only will they receive their contracts sooner, but they also have the flexibility of signing from any device, anywhere! With this in mind, nearly 9 out of 10 customers would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience. Unsurprisingly, digital signature solutions for SMEs can make completing contracts 80% faster. On top of everything, eSignatures are extremely secure and safe. They require ID authentication and record tamper-proof audit trails.

  1. Freelancers

The life of the average freelancer probably involves excessive amounts of paperwork with multiple parties. Trying to juggle this with client expectations, administrative tasks and self-promotion can be extremely overwhelming. Work smarter, not harder with eSignatures: impress clients, save time on tedious document signing, cut administrative costs, and improve overall efficiency. With their in-depth audit trail and centralized storage, you will always be on the ball, with little risk of something getting lost in the shuffle. Bonus, they can also help you get paid faster!

  1. Real estate

eSignatures can quickly change for sale signs to sold. You can finalize contracts faster by removing logistical barriers and sharing documents effortlessly, making document signing easier for clients. Track the status of your documents, send reminders to customers when necessary, and warn clients when important information is missing (like that last initial!). Since your documents can be stored in one location, you can use past documents as a reference for future transactions.

  1. Law

Using electronic signatures can benefit law firms, their employees and clients. Employees will no longer have to waste their time filling out tedious paperwork, and clients will not have to visit the office in order to sign. Furthermore, eSignatures are more enforceable, traceable, confidential, and, hence, secure- increasing customers trust.
Using digital signature solutions for SMEs is basically a no-brainer. No matter what industry, eSignatures improve overall business functions while cutting costs and enhancing customer experience.
Basically, paper signatures are the new carrier pigeon.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll discuss more industries and how they can also be enhanced by eSignatures.
If you want to learn more, check out our page on how digital signature solutions work and how it benefits your business!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Using Chatbots to Grow Your Business

How to use chatbots to grow your business - A Beginner's Guide

In the past few years technology has completely disrupted the way organizations and companies approach customer support and care. The introduction of chatbots followed the same pattern. Lots of research exists our there to back this up, just look at this one by Net Imperative that status that 89% of customers would rather communicate with a virtual assistant than a real person.  
With this post, we’d like to explore chatbots in the context of using them to grow your business. We’ll explore some fundamentals, imlplementation tips and even some of top tools that came up in our research. By now, if you’re reading this much, our very own chatbot “Anya” has already prompted you on the bottom right side of the screen. Go ahead, have a chat and experience it first-hand.
Ok, back to chatbots and learning more about them. Let’s begin.

Chatbot Advantages

Reduced Costs
Before the introduction of chatbots, companies had to rely on human support. Chatbots solve that problem by answering customer concerns and providing them with needed help and advice. Even though implementing chatbots isn’t free, think of how much you will be saving. You will no longer have to a) pay for dedicated human support and b) pay for their associated expenses (like phone bills). There are also non-monetary savings associated with chatbots, like time and effort— just think, no more contracting call centers!
Personalized Selling
With bots keeping track of every choice a user makes on your website, they are the perfect salesperson. They can effectively cross-sell, and upsell your clients. Also, over 50% of people believe businesses should be available 24/7— a schedule chatbots can work with! They can reach out and push products as soon as users become promising leads, giving more meaning to the saying “make money while you sleep”. Along the same lines, they are the best multi-taskers, as they can be chatting with multiple clients at once.
Easy to Use
Even better, chatbots are easy to use— for both you, and your customers! They are super easy to implement, more importantly, are incredibly user friendly. You can even optimize your chatbots for mobile. Since 90% of our time on mobile is spent on email and messaging platforms, they are extremely convenient for both you, and your customers. Moreover, since you can personalize your own bot, they are extremely implementable.

Chatbot Disadvantages

Security issues

Of course, when dealing with sensitive information, chatbots can be a liability. Sensitive information such as credit cards, personal information and others must be handled with care. You should be vigilant and proactive on monitoring your chatbots security system. This becomes even more important if your core business deals with customers personal information, such as banks. If customers do not trust the security of your chatbots, they will not interact with them!

Not All Bots Are Created Equal

There is a downside to chatbot personalization; you need to put in the work. If you are not the most chatbot savvy, your skills may be limited. Even if you are, chatbots can sometimes go a little rogue. When Microsoft launched their chatbot Tay, things quickly got out of hand. She was designed to communicate like a millennial girl, and learn from every interaction. Unfortunately, users started teaching her extremely inappropriate things, to which she, well, repeated. Moreover, customers have certain expectations for chatbots. If yours doesn’t meet, or exceed, these preconceived notions, your customers will be dissatisfied.

They Have Their Limits

Unfortunately, chatbots do have their limits. For the most part, they are currently unable to process complex questions or requests. Instead, they are better for more superficial communication. As such, so far they cannot completely remove humans from the equation. Moreover, their communication style is slighted limited. The average bot does not interpret sarcasm well, and will instead take it literally. Which is so helpful.

I know you’re already well acquainted with Anya on the right, but are chatbots really as good as they seem? And if so, how can a small business owner implement them into their customer care?

Chatbot Implementation

Now that you know about why you should implement chatbots, let’s go over some tips as to how best you can implement them.

Define Your Vision & Objectives

First things first, you need to outline your objectives, vision and long-term goals for your chatbots. Subsequently, you need to determine your target audience and use cases. If you’re new to the game, leveraging existing customers may be worthwhile. You already understand these customers, and retaining existing customers is much easier than attracting new ones. Afterwards, you should identify the tasks needed to reach your long-term goal. For example, if you decide improving customer experience is your main focus, your first task may be to identify common questions customers may ask your bots. After doing so, your next task may be to define your bots domain (ie. the topics they will know, and the breadth of their knowledge). It’s no surprise that different audiences use different slang terms and will have different expectations; so knowing this vital information can allow you to completely customize (and optimize!) the customer experience at every touch point. It’s also probably a good idea to try and predict future problems. For instance, what would you do if a customer gets stuck in a conversation loop?

Choose a Platform

Next step: Choose a suitable platform. Whatever platform you choose should align with your target audience and use case. Furthermore, your customers expectations will be different depending on which platform you use. It is important to be mindful of these assumptions, and act in accordance. For example, if you decide to target millennials, Facebook or Twitter may be viable options. However, this generation interacts with each platform very differently. Twitter is used more as way for customers to notify brands of issues, and hopefully get some compensation in return, while Facebook is used mainly for entertainment. Also, your customer’s location may influence which platforms you choose. If your target audience is situated in China, WeChat may be a platform to consider.

Build it with the Right Tools

Time to get your hands dirty— let’s start building! 40% of bot users disengage after only one interaction, so it’s imperative you build what the users want (it took us 35 min to build Anya on the right.. )
If you’re a bot baby (aka Chatbot beginner), tools like Chatfuel, Botsify and GupShop can really help. With Chatfuel, you can create a personalized AI Chatbot (with no coding!), and integrate your little minions easily within popular consumer platforms. This tool is used by some big brands, including TechCrunch, Uber, and Adidas. Botsify provides a simple interface and design process, user support and several platform integrations. They also have some shiny customers, including Apple! GupShop has pre-build templates, and building tools for everyone (bot babies and bot bosses alike) and for your entire chatbot lifecycle.
When building, it’s important to emphasize your chatbots tone, likeability, believability and brand voice. As discussed earlier, your bot also needs to effectively communicate with your target audience.
And always remember, just because it’s completed doesn’t mean it’s done! To keep your relevance and competitive advantage, you should continuously adapt and improve your bots. Tools like Bot Analytics can help, by gathering meaningful information about your bots performance, so you can make changes and improvements as necessary.

Test your Chatbot

Last, but certainly not least, you should test your chatbots suitability. Your bot should not only be functional, but also secure and appropriate for your target audience. For language, you should test for your bots tone, style, and overall understanding. There are some tools to help you at this stage, like the aforementioned ChatFuel— which can test your bots overall usability.
Considering all the benefits chatbots bring, and that the overwhelming majority of consumers would rather communicate with chatbots, you should probably get used to our friend Anya
Understanding your customers is crucial for the success of your bots, learn more about how you can with our recent article on persona surveys.
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Will InsurTech Be The New Normal?

InsurTech as the new norm

Examining the powerful forces driving massive change within the insurance marketplace

This is an excerpt from our most recent guide “What is Insurtech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice

When compared to other sectors of “big business,” the insurance industry has—at least historically speaking—been left to operate uninterrupted, out of reach from the aggressive startup movement that has radically transformed and reshaped so many other industries.
This simply isn’t the case any longer.
Over the last three years, in particular, startup funding has increased dramatically. In fact, according to a recent PWC report released last year, 90 percent of insurers say that they fear they will lose business to startups as investments in InsurTech has increased five-fold.
To understand why the InsurTech marketplace has seen such explosive growth over the past few years, we need to understand the competitive forces that are most significantly impacting the insurance sector as a whole.
For the purposes of this post, let’s go over the five, key forces we need to understand:

  1. Incumbent carriers are feeling the heat from more nimble, tech-focused startups – Historically flat IT budgets and outdated legacy systems have made it more difficult for large, incumbent organizations to adapt to a new, modern marketplace. More importantly, InsurTech startups have shown the ability to quickly fill gaps in the marketplace, creating entirely new products and service offerings specifically tailored to tech-centric Millennials — the largest living generation of American consumers.
  2. The legislation simply cannot keep pace, leaving startups to quickly fill the gaps – The rise of the peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing economy (think Uber and Airbnb, among others) highlighted an important fact; legislation, as a general rule nowadays, simply cannot keep up with the pace of change. Lawmakers and startups could not be more polar opposites of each other—one group moves begrudgingly slow and the other lightning quick. This divergent movement creates gaps and loopholes (not to mention regulatory nightmares), allowing nimble startups to introduce never-before-seen products and services that often threaten the very existence of larger, more traditional insurers. While usually good for customers, it can spell doom for big business.
  3. Big data continues to confound traditional insurers, empower new entrants – Insurance is a data-driven business, and big data is BIG business. The rapid increase in available software, specifically cloud-based computing, connected devices and telematics, has made data more accessible than ever. Still, most traditional insurance companies, burdened by rigid, antiquated systems, have yet to capitalize. Instead, smaller, more agile, InsurTech startups have stepped in to fill the void. Big data remains one of the most difficult challenges for large, incumbent insurers.
  4. New entrants are joining forces to solve the cyber security puzzle – Cyber crime costs are projected to reach $2 trillion by 2019, which makes cyber security a puzzle that’s obviously worth solving. Yet, as the free flow of data (specifically, Cloud data) becomes more accessible, insurers—not unlike other big businesses—face mounting security challenges. To solve some of these challenges, there are new entrants like Cyence, a startup that provides a first-of-its-kind cyber risk analysis for insurers. According to Cyence, the economic cyber risk modelling platform “helps companies when they’re the target of cyber-attacks.” Many of these companies have joined forces with FinTech (yes, that would be “Financial Tech”) startups who are solving similar challenges.
  5. Traditional insurers, in an effort to close the gap, continue to gobble up talent – Talent tends to follow funding. As a result, there has been an influx of skilled software talent. Traditional insurers, too, have joined the hunt for top-notch tech talent — albeit in a slightly different way. According to Gartner, the global insurance industry (North America, in particular) is investing heavily in insurance technology start-ups. In fact, Gartner reports that 80 percent of life, property and casualty insurers worldwide will “partner with or acquire InsurTechs to secure their competitive positions by the end of 2018.”

That last statistic is worth repeating:
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”80 percent of insurers worldwide will partner or acquire InsurTechs by the end of 2018!” style=”2″]
Download the free guide What is Insurtech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice.  
Needless to say, traditional insurance companies are at a crossroads. And judging by the number above, most have made their decision.
But, who are these InsurTech startups?
Let’s take a look.

InsurTech Startups: the most disruptive, well-funded startups currently reshaping the insurance marketplace

There is an ever-growing laundry list of startups currently taking aim the insurance sector (here are more than 100 of them)—and that doesn’t even count other FinTech startups who are attempting to do the same thing!
Some are taking aim at auto insurance, exclusively.
Not to be outdone, here are eight more hoping to disrupt the life insurance market.
You get the idea.
Yet, there are a handful of startups, in particular, that are making waves early in 2017:

  1. Lemonade: Lemonade offers fast and low-coverage homeowners and renters insurance “powered by technology.” It sells rental insurance policies for as low as $5 and home insurance for as little as $35. The company has raised more than $90 million, including $34 million Series B in late 2016.
  2. Metromile: Metromile offers pay-per-mile car insurance powered by a proprietary device, Metromile Pulse, a free wireless device that plugs into your car. Once the device is installed, it calculates your monthly mileage to determine your bill. The company claims its customers save an average of $500 annually. To date, Metromile has raised more than $200 million in funding!
  3. Trov: Trov calls itself “on-demand insurance for the things you love.” Essentially, Trov lets you purchase low-cost, accidental theft, damage, and loss policies on everyday items—with just a few text messages. That’s right. The entire experience can be handled safely and securely from a smartphone. The Australia-based company has raised more than $46 million to date and plans to launch in the U.S. later this year.
  4. Clover Health: Clover is a full-service insurance company that “implements metrics to figure out the best protocol for a patient who is at risk for health problems. It aggregates reports from a patient’s various medical services to generate a comprehensive profile of the person’s health” (source). Clover is currently available in New Jersey only, though it has plans to expand elsewhere in the near future. And get this—Clover has raised nearly $300 million in funding!

Obviously, this is but a small sampling of the types of startups who are benefitting from an influx As you may already know, of investment dollars (and clearly for good reason). If you want to learn more about insurTech, you can download the full guide for free here: “What is InsurTech? And Why The Insurance Industry Should Take Immediate Notice”.
Sources: http://insights.instech.london/post/102d2yk/24-companies-shaping-instech-globally

Part 2: The Top 5 Most Promising Recent Graduate Jobs and Industries

Top 5 Promising Recent Graduate Jobs and Industries

Hello again! I’m back with some more information on the recent graduate jobs that are exciting and promising, but this time I’ll explain how you can get involved!
So here we are, as promised:

  1. Virtual Reality

Nearly every existing industry can be disrupted and enhanced by virtual reality. To get started, first immerse yourself in the virtual reality world. Follow other entrepreneurs and industry experts, and learn from them! Because of the endless possibilities, you can really tailor your business to your own personal interests and passions, but here are some of the most promising segments:

Hardware & Software Development

There is a huge market for virtual reality hardware and software development since VR sort of relies on it (no biggie right?). In fact, by 2020 the virtual reality hardware and software segment will be a $70 billion market. In the coming months, more people will start developing virtual reality entertainment, and they will need developing tools (can you believe that!?). On the other side, customers ready to get their hands on VR equipment will need to purchase other products to support VR applications, such as powerful graphic cards. Compared with traditional applications and games, VR requires seven times the graphics processing power. With this in mind, as of last year less than 1% of PC’s used globally have the capability to support virtual reality. According to BBC News, even one of the major players in the VR industry, Oculus, recommends users to purchase powerful graphic cards.

Education

The education market is predicted to be impacted the most from virtual reality, and be one of its first successful commercial applications. Virtual reality can be implemented into every aspect and level of learning. For example, students in grade one can use VR to learn more about the animal kingdom. Students can visually see each animal, and even hear the different sounds/calls they make, without ever leaving the safety of their classroom. On the other hand, aspiring veterinary surgeons can use VR as a surgical simulation tool. Additionally, VR headsets have a wide price range, starting as low as $20, making them affordable for lower end schools. Currently, there are only a few companies that are capitalizing on this and making their own applications, meaning there is room in the market for you!

Video Games

The virtual reality video game market is expected to reach over $11.5 billion by 2025. Even though virtual reality is relatively new, the gaming community represents the closest thing to a mass market within the industry. You can ease your way into this market, by starting off small and focusing on virtual reality apps. There are numerous easy to use platforms available for newbies, such as Unity. Unity provides its users with tutorials, tools and an online community. Moreover, revenue from ads within VR apps can range from $0.03 to $0.10 per view. Meaning, you can make up to $50,000 per day on in-app ads this year.

  1. Health & Wellness

The health and wellness industry is all about community, so you should actively get involved! Focus on relationship building, customer engagement, and personal branding. You really want your customers to feel a strong connection with you and your brand. You also want your customers to establish a level of trust with you, so you may want to look into getting relevant certifications. These customers are not interested in a fad diet, and instead are committed to a complete lifestyle change. They are lifetime customers, with huge potential brand loyalty.

Products

The vast majority of revenue from the health and wellness industry comes from product sales. Within the product segment, healthy food products and digital fitness show the most promise. As people are becoming increasingly aware and concerned over their personal health, they want to fuel their body with quality food. The demand for health foods is skyrocketing, as 73% of consumers admit to switching to healthier alternatives, with 77% of consumers believing diet products are not as healthy as advertised. Additionally, digital fitness is now a $330 million market and is experiencing exponential growth. In fact, users are even starting to trust apps more than their doctors! This year, 30% of consumers will have a digital health device and 1.7 billion smartphones and tablets will have a health app installed. Since apps create the possibility for social media integration, users can easily share their achievements to their online platforms and increase your brand awareness and reach!

Blogs

Health and Wellness blogs are the most profitable niche blog market. Through blogs, you can easily create a personal brand and create a strong online presence. Sharing relevant content, and having an open line of communication with your followers, allows you to build meaningful customer relationships, and strong customer engagement. By creating a strong personal brand, and taking advantage of affiliate marketing and ad placements, you can easily make a six-figure salary!

  1. Drones

In order to commercialize drone use, you must first make sure you have the proper qualifications. For example, you may need to get your remote pilot certificate, which is basically just a fancy way of saying you’re legally allowed to fly drones for profit. You also need to be aware of the different rules and regulations, which vary by location. For the aspiring Canadian drone entrepreneurs, click here to figure out what some of those regulations are.

Aerial Inspection

Since drones can fly (duh!), you can use them for aerial inspection—which has the earning potential of $200 an hour. This drone service is scalable, and can be used for big projects (like assessing the CN tower), to smaller projects (like spying on your neighbours). Anyone who needs to view or inspect something that can be potentially dangerous or time-consuming for a worker can cut monetary and time costs by using drones instead. For example, some roofing companies have begun using drones to assess damage, without the need for any workers to put themselves in harm’s way. Learn more about how drones are also being used in the insurance industry.

Public Safety

Unfortunately, there will always be a need for disaster relief and search & rescue. Drones can give relief workers an inside view in areas that are dangerous, and not easily accessible by land. Drones can also be used to deliver necessary supplies, such as medicine, food or water. As explained by UAV Coach, surf lifesavers are currently using drones to help with their search and rescue operations. They equip their drones with rescue packs containing life-saving supplies, and even electromagnetic shark deterrents.

  1. Marijuana

Before you become a successful “potpreneur”, be sure you know all the laws and regulations of your current location, and any location you plan on doing business in. Along the same lines, pay attention to consumer trends. This is a relatively new industry (legally speaking), and customers are feeling their way and constantly changing their preferences. For example, the once popular pot flowers have drastically reduced in demand, with sales falling 54% last year.

Infused Products

The most promising product segments are edibles and topicals. In fact, both product segments have an average profit margin of over 55%. Edibles are the most exciting segment and may rake in half of the $5.4 billion industry. Topicals, on the other hand are an area of untapped promise, as these products are able to appeal to the general public. Since their application does not result in any “high”, those who do not want to be under the influence can still enjoy their many health benefits.

Retail Stores

Retail store sales are expected to hit $21.8 billion in 2020. Canada has proven to be a promising location, as last year 30% of Canadians used pot, compared to only 10% of Americans. In Canada, medical marijuana is legal in all forms—including edibles and topicals. Unsurprisingly, the Canadian domestic market is going to be huge (maybe the leaf on our flag isn’t a maple leaf after all). Considering many medical marijuana patients are unable to travel to store locations, at home delivery service is in demand. A San Francisco-based startup, Eaze, is leading the pack with at home pot delivery. In fact, this startup has already procured over $25 million in funding, which shows the extreme potential and need for pot delivery services. However, Eaze only delivers within the state of California, meaning there is a huge untapped market here in Canada and other places in the US!

  1. FinTech

Before delving into the new world of FinTech, it’s probably a good idea to give yourself a refresher on the finance industry, and the customer base. For example, almost 60% of smartphone users use their phone for online banking, so you should start thinking about mobile optimization. And this may go without saying, but you need to know all relevant rules and regulations.

P2P Lending

Peer to Peer lending has not only disrupted traditional lenders, but also the entire financial services sector. FinTech startups received more than $9 billion in capital during the first three months of last year alone. Toronto-based FinTech startup Lending Loop capitalized on the huge size of the Canadian market and became one of the first P2P lending platforms in Canada. Moreover, P2P lending has proven to be a very stable and lucrative industry. According to Cato Pastoll, Lending Loop CEO, the annual returns hover around 9%. Since P2P lending can be segmented further, you can really focus on any area that interests you (like student loans…).
Don’t forget us little people when you make it big! Well, maybe you can forget Uncle Mike. Get out there and find the perfect recent graduate jobs!
Miss Part 1? Don’t worry! You can read more about the potential of each industry and which jobs for recent graduates are promising for you!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Insurance Technology: A Tale of Two Extreme Ends

Learn about the biggest innovations in insurance technology =

Insurance technology and the industry are both undergoing a seismic change driven by several macro trends. Of these trends, technical innovation and changing customer expectations are driving insurance companies to invest significant resources in topics such as Big Data, Internet of things, blockchain and wearables. While some players in the industry stand to win and capitalize on this shift, some, unless they innovate, will put their company at risk.

Insurance Technology is Innovating at Lightning Speeds

According to a paper published by the Institute of international finance on insurance technology:
Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics, telematics, the global positioning system (GPS), mobile phones, digital platforms, drones, blockchain, smart contracts, and artificial intelligence (AI) are providing new ways to measure, control, and price risk, engage with customers, reduce cost, improve efficiency, and expand insurability.”
Customer expectations for services have significantly changed. In an article written earlier this year, I outlined how customer experience is taking center stage in 2017, and the impact this has had on the retail industry. The insurance industry is no different. Many customers today expect to be able to get their car insurance online, and instantly, and at a great price. After all, “15 minutes can save your 15% on car insurance”, right?
Insurance companies operate on the premise of risk reduction, that means whatever information can be gathered about the driver can help provide a better assessment of the driver risk, and therefore determine the rate. Yes, sometimes it is cheaper. In the past, you called your insurance broker, they asked for your driving history, how many miles you drove in a given year, what kind of car you drive, where you lived (to assess the likelihood of theft), etc. This data was collected once a year when it was time to renew. That, of course, was before GPS, IoT and Big Data were in play. Today, companies like Progressive can install a little device in your car, and monitor everything from the way you slam your breaks to where you pick up your kids, here is how it works according to ABC 15’s “Car insurance companies to track driver habits for research” story.
Privacy aside, these projects cost millions of dollars and help insurance companies, save money, make money, and yes, sometimes pass the information to you. For the customer, the potential for money savings, and a better experience, compared to calling my broker every year and going through the data collection dance, is a win.
Of course, this innovation is not limited to cars, these days, homes are being automated with systems like Wink, which knows when you turn on your heat and when you fry your chicken a bit too much, and thanks to the proliferation of the Nest Thermostat and Nest Protect Fire Alarm and the ever connected Ring doorbell. Indeed the American Family Insurance Company has partnered up with Ring, and Liberty Mutual have partnered with Google to share your data and reduce costs…
Need good health insurance at an affordable price? Hey, how about a free Fitbit to go with that policy, thanks to John Hancock’s partnership with Vitality. Yes, at one point, data from wearables will be shared with your insurance company to analyse, revise risk, and cost to the customer.
The world of insurance will further be disrupted by autonomous vehicles, drones, AI, block chain, and more, here is an infographic that can shed some light on how insurance companies are looking at technology.
Infographic on the innovation of insurance technology and its impacts

Source: Innovation in Insurance Report by Institute of International Finance

But who exactly is investing in these projects? It’s the big companies, such as State Farm, Progressive, John Hancock, and Liberty Mutual. The reason for that is quick basic, big data and IoT projects require the ability to make data sharing deals in the market, the ability to roll out an expensive, usually multi-year, and multi-million dollar big data project. These projects require large sets of data, access to latest technology talent, and data scientists. If successful, the companies that have figured this out will stand to win, and that means a direct and integrated relationship with the client who is less likely to switch providers

Don’t Fall Behind on Insurance Technology!

On the other side of the insurance chasm is the brokers, who today act as resellers to insurance companies, who have by in large remained static in their technology investment. Part of the issue is, of course, the fact that brokers are small businesses who do not have the resources or the data to undertake such projects, and part of it is cultural and these companies are family-owned business who prefer to maintain the status quo, change is hard.
The unfortunate reality is that the chasm in the customer experience when dealing directly with the insurance company is far different and better compared to the experience when dealing with a broker, and that chasm will continue to grow unless insurance brokers look for ways to service the customer better.
Recent data released by CSIO, Canada’s industry association of property and casualty insurers, brokers and software providers showed that by the end of 2016 only 6% of insurance brokers have adopted digital signatures solutions. That means that 94% of insurance quotes still expect the customer to print, sign and scan. That experience for the end consumer is far off from the expected experience set by the insurance companies.
While insurance brokers can choose not to invest in big data/IoT projects, they can still compete on customer service and leverage insurance technology to do so. Here are some very easy and cost effective way to simplify the customer experience.

  1. Invest in digital signature solutions (full disclosure here, we are a solution provider). However, the rollout of a digital signature solution takes little effort and eliminates one the core reasons why customers abandon quotes. Signature solution prices are quite affordable and can be purchased for as low as $8 per month.
  2. Live chat tools such as Olark or Intercom
  3. Communicate with your underwriting team digitally by implementing an internal chat system to speed up your processes, like Slack
  4. Go digital with your client onboarding processes by utilizing online forms, like Typeform or with embedded documents using an eSignature solution like Signority.

Also, be sure to read our recent post on what to look out for before going digital and be aware of the top emerging trends to stay ahead of the game!
Looking to take your business paperless? Sign-up now and get free access to Signority’s Business Plan.

Focus Your Business With a Persona Survey

See how your persona survey can help grow your business

As any growing business,  we at Signority are constantly looking for ways to become a more efficient business. In a recent chat with our friends at Typeform — experts in online forms and surveys — we explored ways to gather learn about your ideal customer using a persona survey. Jon Riggall, a Senior Technical Writer, was gracious enough to accept our invitation for a guest post to share his insights for other small businesses.
Want to find out who your customers are and how they’re using your product so you can dominate your market? You do? Then try running a persona survey. This will give you data you can use to create a series of personas—model people who use your product. Here’s how we do it at Typeform.

The problem

We all know the famous John Lydgate quote, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
If you had infinite resources, maybe you could try to please all of the people all of the time. But I’m guessing that’s not your case. So pick your battles. Even the Googles and Facebooks of the world can’t keep everyone happy.
So how do you decide where to point your resources?
In the beginning, your business might grow organically, and it’s only at a certain point that you realize you need to know who your customer is—so you can keep them, and target more people like them. Typeform was launched because the founders wanted to solve the ugly form problem plaguing the web. Personas came later.
When designing a product, you might have someone in mind. But who knows, a year later you may find you’ve built a following amongst rocket scientists, and you had no idea. They love your product, but if you’re developing with other people in mind, then you risk alienating this profitable group.
This is where a persona survey comes in. It’s not rocket science—you survey a percentage of your customer base to see what kind of people use your product or service. After you get some responses, you can build a stronger product and focus your marketing efforts on getting more of the right kind of people
The idea is to create three to five personas from the results. This includes a basic outline of who each person is: their industry, professional profile, and demographic information, why they use your product, and so on. Then use these insights to inform your decision making.

Building your persona survey

Here at Typeform, we had a pretty good idea what kind of people use our product thanks to data collected by our Customer Success and Marketing teams. We still run persona surveys, and the results guide our efforts, and also back up our strategic decisions with other departments. You can’t argue with data, after all (post-truth world be damned).
So what makes an effective persona survey that gives you genuinely useful and enlightening results?
Our Customer Experience Team is responsible for surveying our current customers, though of course the results are used company wide.
There are two parts.
1) Ask people who they are, and 2) Ask how they use the product. This gives you a much deeper understanding of who uses what and why. Perhaps the majority are hockey players who use no advanced features and churn quickly, while a significant minority are bakers who use advanced features and stay around longer. You won’t know until you ask. Here’s how we do it:

  1. We start off asking how we can best help people learn about Typeform. This gives us data we can use to improve our Help Center.
  1. The survey continues with a question about how people use Typeform, before asking for demographic info. For example, “Which PRO features have you used?”
  1. We follow up by asking “Which PRO features you don’t understand?” We want to pinpoint where their pain points are.
  1. Then we go a little deeper. Which industry do customers work in, and which department? We also ask about the size of their organization. This data allows us to see what kind of professionals (and companies) are using Typeform.
  1. And we finish off by asking “What do you use typeforms for?”

There are detailed step-by-step instructions for building this with Typeform over on our Help Center.
We send Typeform to a percentage of our users, and then the data rolls in. This data is essential for creating personas. Keeping them in mind helps us to focus on developing something these people will love even more.
With this data, we can focus our Growth Team on the right people. We can better tailor our Help Center to how people want to learn, and our developers can work on features that satisfy the needs of customers. It’s simple to set up and gives you invaluable data that can justify what you’re doing, or even send you off in a direction you weren’t expecting.
So if you want to see who loves you, try running a persona survey. If you’re lucky, they might actually be rocket scientists.
About our Guest Author
Jon is Typeform’s Senior Technical Writer, and can mainly be seen bringing you articles from their  Help Center. Typeform creates beautiful forms from Lead Generation to Wedding RSVPs. Aside from being interested in technology, Jon spends his time painting, and can sometimes be found DJing around Barcelona.
Follow him on Twitter @jonathanriggall