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Fidelity brings NetBenefits to iPad users to meet tablet demand

Fidelity Investments is expanding its smartphone application NetBenefits to the iPad to meet a growing tablet market.

The NetBenefits app lets consumers access their workplace account, including retirement, stock and pension plans, as well as the health benefits they are enrolled in. A tablet app will benefit employees who are not sitting in front of a desktop all day but still want to be able to access NetBenefits.

“Our overall strategy is to provide a pervasive experience that is consistent no matter how you choose to interact with us, whether you’re on the Web, or smartphone or tablet,” said Charles Berman, senior vice president of digital platforms, workplace marketing, solutions and experience at Fidelity Investments, Boston. “Behind it all is consistency, you’re going to see the same information at the same time.

“We of course want to make maximum use of each device,” he said. “One of the things about the iPad, clearly it’s got a beautiful visual display. We want to make use of that real estate.

“We also make much more use of swipe and zoom than we do on the Web, and we are able to differentiate from the smartphone by being able to use more real estate and being able to show more information in context. You can see more at one time and more detail on the iPad.”

Fidelity launched the smartphone NetBenefits app in 2013 and it has since been downloaded more than 825,000 times.

The iPad app targets employees such as those working at retail stores, on manufacturing floors, in health care environments and classrooms. They will be able to access important information via a tablet while on the job.

Tablets tend to encourage more of an interactive, two-way experience, so that was the focus of the iPad NetBenefits app.

The NetBenefits iPad app is available for free download in Apple’s App Store.

In addition to the smartphone app features, the iPad app will also highlight new, innovative features.

For instance, consumers can access a peer comparison capability to evaluate aspects of their portfolio, such as savings rate, account balance and rate of return, compared to other consumers.

Consumers also have broader access to the NetBenefits Library, which includes educational guidance about employee benefits as well as videos, podcasts, workshops, tools and articles on financial and health care. There are also filters for faster searching.

Additionally, the app features enhanced data visualization of a consumer’s account portfolio, contribution rate, balance and personal rate of return.

Consumer demand
Fidelity decided to release this app after noticing an increasing consumer demand for tablet functionality.

Fidelity’s User Experience Design team then performed more than 600 in-person customer interviews over 10 months to gain insight while designing the app. They tested color schemes, user instructions and functionality, such as swipe and tap locations.

In 2014, Fidelity plans to bring NetBenefits to more devices and platforms to let consumers access this information when and how they choose. It also plans to add a new feature called Easy Enroll, which will let employees join their workplace savings plan with just a few taps on their tablet.

“It may only take two or three minutes to make a really important decision and as simple as that sounds, many people don’t do it either because it’s too inconvenient or it’s too complicated and it makes them uncomfortable and they don’t engage,” Mr. Berman said.

“The second part of it is to provide intuitive and comfortable interfaces that make people feel confident that they can make a good decision,” he said. “A lot of that can be accomplished through a compelling engaging experience on the iPad.

“A really important aspect is engaging customers in the design process itself. One of the things we’re always struck by is our first idea of what’s engaging and compelling can be really different from what real people think, so we’ve had hundreds of interviews and tests to continue to refine based on some of their impressions that they get and making sure that the story and the narrative is something that really makes sense to them.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York