The plethora of standards and platforms governing wireless communications is enough to drive any sober-minded insurance industry manager batty.
Take, for example, the following protocols: CDMA 1xRTT, CDMA 1XEVDO, CDPD, GPRS, iDEN. Those are just for public wireless networks.
Let's not forget to mention the private wireless network protocols: Dataradio DMP, M/A-Com EDACS, M/A-Com OpenSky, Motorola RD-LAP, Nextel iDEN. And just for good measure, we'll mention a few other network protocols: 802.11 a/b/g wireless LAN, Mesh networks and, finally, Ethernet.
Is it any wonder that adjusters get frustrated communicating wirelessly?
"Workers need to spend less time establishing connections and more time working productively," said Mark Ferguson, marketing director of Padcom Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company specializing in providing devices with wireless remote access to networks.
But linking all these different standards so that users benefit from a seamless experience is the biggest challenge facing the wireless industry, experts said during a seminar on future trends hosted by the Insurance Accounting & Systems Association at its annual meeting.
Perhaps it's not surprising that risk adjusters, so used to working with paper, feel as if their digital lives are spinning out of control.
Steve Turk, regional manager for iAnywhere Solutions Inc., a Dublin, Calif.-based company that makes mobile security software, agreed.
"There's an issue of loss of control," Turk said. "That remains an issue now and in the future."
The loss-of-control issue isn't misplaced. In May 2005, a laptop with data on about 16,500 former and current employees, including their Social Security numbers, was stolen from the car of an MCI financial analyst.
Other thieves, sometimes called "wardrivers," have been charged for roaming around neighborhoods in their cars with wireless-enabled devices in search of routers and Internet connections to eavesdrop on public networks or steal personal information.
Whether claims adjusters feel the wireless world is offering them more or less control, one trend appears certain, the experts at the IASA session said.
Fairly mobile today, adjusters and claims managers are going to become even more so in the future, as they process claims in the field, download data from servers hundreds of miles away and stay close to their customers.
That means the demand for wireless devices and networks in the insurance sector is going to go up. Cellular networks are already gearing up to deliver the bandwidth necessary to deliver video, said Terence Caston, a senior sales engineer with wireless provider T-Mobile USA Inc.
Delivering e-mail wirelessly, he said, is already passťas networks grow into a new "level of maturity."
"We're beginning to move beyond e-mail," he said.
The future in the wireless space will belong to those companies that figure out how to transpose the desktop experience to the wireless world, Ferguson said.
August 1, 2006
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