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The secret to first-rate mobile apps for customers? Iterate, iterate, iterate

Mary K. Pratt | Oct. 14, 2015
How four organizations tapped into fast-moving advances in mobile technology to crank up the functionality of their existing customer offerings.

"Ultimately we'd like to influence our customers' behavior, teach them to be safer and impact the safety of the roadway," Purgatorio says.

Chetan Phadnis, vice president of connected car engineering, says Allstate workers were inspired to build the app after seeing the success of its plug-in and the evolution of smartphone technology.

"The smartphone sensor sophistication is really what opened the door to this possibility. I think we hit it at the right point," he says, adding that Allstate already had strong in-house talent for developing algorithms and analytics program. (Check out this video to see and hear more about the Drivewise Mobile project.)

As of this summer, Drivewise Mobile was available in 26 states, with Allstate expanding availability as the company meets state-by-state regulatory requirements. Allstate says it currently has 820,000 customers actively participating in the Drivewise program.

"There's a potential for telematics to revolutionize the insurance industry, particularly insurance pricing," Purgatorio says, adding that "the more data you have, the more personalized the product can be. I think that's the future for us here."

Hilton Worldwide: Digital Check-in with Room Selection

As part of its ongoing research into what customers value, Hilton Worldwide found that 84% wanted to have control over the room in which they stay. And while the company already had a mobile app, its new Digital Check-in with Room Selection allows Hilton customers to remotely check in and select their room across multiple devices and platforms. The app debuted in mid-2014.

Virginia Suliman, vice president for worldwide digital design and development, says employees had proposed the room-selection idea back in 2007, suggesting that customers at its extended-stay Homewood Suites, in particular, would appreciate being able to pick their rooms.

"We saw applicability more broadly, and we saw the value of floor plans, so we've continued to perfect it and improve it with newer technology," she says.

Joshua Sloser, vice president of digital product innovation, says Hilton IT had a strong foundation to support this ambitious project. "Our IT team made some investments in our foundational technology that allows us to do something at this magnitude," he says, pointing specifically to Hilton's work about a decade ago to integrate its systems across almost every property.

"From a development standpoint, that helped us tremendously, so we could have a unified way to connect to this one system and view, at the property-level, room inventory and understand when people check in and check out," Sloser says.

While competitors offer digital check-in, the room-selection feature is unique, Suliman says. In developing the app, she says, one of the biggest challenges was presenting the information on a mobile screen in an uncluttered way. Hilton opted to use iconography to describe, for example, whether a room has one bed or two.


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