If you are a fan of the TV series Get Smart, whether the original or in reruns, you might say that the famous shoe phone was ahead of its time as a mobile device. Even the Statue of Liberty, let's not forget, is holding a tablet (not an iPad) in addition to the torch. Today, smartphones and tablets are everywhere, and they are making impacts way beyond anyone's expectations, sometimes in unexpected ways. When you look at an iPhone, you can easily forget that it started out primarily as an iPod with a phone. Today, there is an ever-expanding universe of mobile apps to add to the phone, whether playing games, taking photos or video, social networking, reading, shopping, checking the news, finding directions, and so much more.
In the retirement space, the 1990s was perhaps the era of the IVR, or interactive voice response. The past decade, participants have been flocking to the internet in growing numbers, with the IVR fading from view. According to Vanguard, 81% of all transactions are done via the internet, with 16% using a call center representative, and a minimal 3% using the IVR. (See Figure 104 in Vanguard's How America Saves 2012) Principal reports that mobile technology is helping to produce positive outcomes for participants by driving increased engagement and interest in one's own account - whether in the form of mobile apps, mobile websites, or text messages. (See page 24 of Principal's The Total View 2011)
OneAmerica has done some digging into generational differences in using technology. Key findings in its online survey of 6,300+ participants include:
Additional details from the OneAmerica report are available in its news release.
It will be interesting to continue to follow these trends in the coming months and over the next few years. While the smartphone market is slowing down a but, it is still growing. Tablets continue to pick up steam in their growth, so for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will see even greater usage of online and mobile tools by retirement plan participants.
Blog Author - Ken Felsher
With over 25 years of writing, editing, and research experience. I enjoy sharing with my readers my love of working with content on a variety of subjects.
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