Telecom giant Sprint used National Cell Phone Courtesy Month (July) to re-release its 2004 "Wireless Courtesy Report," which pretty much confirms what we already know: We are annoyed with rude cell phone users, yet we don't think we are among them.Based on a nationwide survey of 723 adult wireless subscribers, the Sprint 2004 study's major finding was: Although Americans felt people were less courteous than five years earlier, they themselves were not at fault. Additionally, 80% of Americans think wireless callers have become less courteous, but 97% don't think they're part of the problem.

The fact that we are called to officially acknowledge cell phone courtesy with an entire month is a statement in itself.

Maybe the word "courteous" should be replaced with the word "expert"-or perhaps "responsible." The idea that certain technologies make it easier for us to communicate and control when and with whom we communicate got me thinking about some of the issues in the insurance industry that demand expert, responsible communication.

Regulatory reporting, speed to market, mergers, resultant downsizing, reports to shareholders-all require the utmost in communication strategy and execution. But do they all require the utmost in technology?

An INN reader with several years of executive-level experience says no. "One of the still too frequent issues is the disconnect between IT and the business, and the only effective solution I have ever found is the forging of strong, skin-in-the-game partnership relationships between IT and the business at all levels, from executive to worker bee. Even then, the results are uneven as they are dependent on individual style and motivation," says the reader.

Howard Perlmutter, Ph.D. and emeritus professor, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, seems to agree: "The quality of communication, the depth and extent of genuine collaborative dialog with all stakeholder groups concerned with the enterprise, will correlate very strongly to financial performance," he says.

Yet technology-wireless included-contributes to our ability to facilitate expert and responsible communication and achieve positive results, points out our reader.

"As an industry we cannot succeed in supplying consistent service levels without highly automated communication, monitoring and management processes and tools across [the insurance industry's] complex heterogeneous architecture. The ITIL standard provides us with a framework to achieve this, but not without investments in infrastructure. Whether or not an organization makes those investments will depend to a large extent on how effectively that organization addresses my first point above," he says.

I'm not certain that our reader advocates using cellular phones to craft partnership relationships between IT and your business, but if you do, just don't be rude about it.

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