It's probably no surprise to anyone that the activities framing the experiences in our personal lives have leaked into our business lives and vice versa. A September 2008 survey from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project reveals BlackBerry and personal digital assistant (PDA) owners are more than twice as likely to report that their employer expects them to stay tuned into e-mail outside of the office. In fact, 48% say they are required to read and respond to e-mail when they are away from work. Whether it's required by a company or it's a worker's choice, lines are being crossed, and that could pose many problems for companies, especially insurers.
The general use of smartphones within an insurance company seems to be by executives and other members of upper management. While some field employees and insurance agents may depend on smartphones for business communications, the availability of insurance-specific applications on these devices seems to be in the relatively early stages, according to Chad Hersh, a principal at New York-based Novarica. "There aren't that many smartphone applications out there right now for insurance," he says. "CSC (Falls Church, Va.) released an application [currently in beta] to enable agents and customers to access CSC systems on mobile browsers. Very few vendors have offered anything like that to date. It's really been up to the carrier."
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