Voices from Accenture Public Service


I spent 30+ years in the technology business designing, programming, and managing large IT projects and organizations. And, I loved it! I always had access to the latest and greatest and never wanted for tech support. So, when I retired from my CIO post at CalPERS in 2010, I found myself in a very unfamiliar situation. No longer responsible for the technology and systems that supported the world’s fifth largest pension fund, I was suddenly on my own as a retiree and a user of those services. And what a different world it was.

No longer constrained by schedules and meetings, I could finally pursue all those things I never had time to do when I worked—travel, golf, lunch with friends, afternoon spa outings, etc. I could do whatever I wanted, wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And off I went!

I quickly realized I was spending less and less of my time in front of a computer. I was no longer sitting at a desk; I was mobile. So, the first time I encountered a technical issue that necessitated a call to the “Geek Squad”, I ditched my desktop and switched to mobile devices to manage everything in my life—banking, appointments, tee times, travel arrangements and so on. The notable exception was managing my retirement.

But I’m not alone. Accenture research from 2016 shows that 75 percent of retirees have and use a smartphone, and of those, 92 percent use mobile apps. There’s clearly a demand for mobile services. So why aren’t pension providers responding?

When I ask that question, I always get the same response: “Our retirees won’t use mobile”. And, while there are surely retirees who haven’t made the switch, there are many, many more who have. Even my husband, retired now for 12 years, has been “mobilized”.

This is a missed opportunity. Pension organizations underestimate the “tech savvy-ness” of their younger retirees, let alone the millennial demand for digital. Mobile gives pension providers the chance to engage and communicate with members of all ages much more effectively. It provides another channel for communication—a channel that is rapidly consuming the market. And, unlike a “responsive” website, mobile apps take advantage of features such as Siri, touch ID, the camera, etc.—all features we’ve just come to expect be available. Yet, pension entities continue to send out paper and post on websites. In a world that’s always “on”, will mobile retirees even see this information?

Deliver it to mobile and people are much more likely to take a look. I know I’m much more inclined to read a newsletter or some specialized communique while I’m waiting for my tee time or sitting in the dentist office. Push it to my phone; I’ll pick it up. The millennials know no other way.

What’s more, going mobile saves time and money. Based on industry stats, every call into a live agent costs $7.76. With an app that enables mobile self-service, that cost is cut dramatically to just 39 cents. By offering members a mobile option, they can process nearly 20 mobile transactions for the cost of just one call—and free call center agents up to work on more complex member inquiries.

Mobile self-service also eliminates the need for most paper forms and correspondence which, in turn, results in reduced postage costs. By reducing calls and postage, the efficiencies gained through mobile quickly add up to tangible cost savings. In today’s climate, any chance to address operational costs is an opportunity that no pension provider can afford to ignore.

With no real risks and low-cost technology, there are very few—if any—reasons not to move to a mobile solution. Today’s and tomorrow’s members will increasingly switch to mobile as the primary platform to organize their lives. Pension providers need to meet their customers where they’ll increasingly be found—and become mobile-first themselves. Fast.

Is your pension organization mobile-ready? Share your thoughts.

To learn more, visit us at https://www.accenture.com/pensions

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