Mobile apps require customer-first thinking

By Mitch Betts

Tim Elkins, executive vice president and CIO at mortgage company PrimeLending, said his company ran consumer focus groups before developing its mobile apps and got an earful. He heard consumers call the mortgage process painful, a necessary evil, and a mysterious black hole for paperwork.

That led to a mobile app that keeps homebuyers better informed about the status of the transaction and demystifies the process, Elkins said. (The next release of the app will let consumers take a photo of key documents and deliver them to the company's imaging system.)

In general, consumer expectations for what should be feasible with mobile devices are outpacing corporate IT's ability to deliver.

Progressive Insurance recently got the bright idea to develop a feature that lets customers send smartphone photos or videos of their car damage to the auto insurer. But the notion was a bit late, said CIO Raymond Voelker. "It was too late for [building] a business case," he said. "Consumers are already sending them."

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