Enterprising Developments

The Client Side: Are Mobile Devices Capable of Heavy Lifting?

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, July 23, 2010

In a recent commentary posted at TechCrunch, Steve Cheney talks about the significant shift in emphasis taking place from the PC model to small form-factor mobile devices.

There's certainly a lot of value for insurance companies. Field adjustors, for example, can move about their assignments with these devices, providing real-time feeds to central offices to help quickly settle open claims. Agents visiting prospects can enter essential data and provide on-the-spot quotes. It's a lot easier to move about with a mobile device than to lug a laptop. Policies can be opened by consumers anywhere, anytime. Plus, there's no fussing with operating systems – it just turns on and off.

The momentum certainly seems to be on the mobile side. As Cheney describes it: “On the heels of the latest Android phone, the Sprint HTC EVO, and ... iPhone 4, it seems like mobile devices and platforms are innovating at about five times the pace of personal computers. Rapid advancement in mobile is often attributed to the natural disruption by which emerging industries innovate quickly, while established markets like PCs follow a slower, more sustained trajectory ... It’s very likely that within five years, tablets, smartphones, and other 'mobile devices' will have permanently left PC innovation behind.”

In other words, mobile devices are the rising stars, while PCs are legacy toast.  But, just think, today's laptop looks pretty small and mobile itself next to a 1980s-era midrange system or mainframe.

Another thing to think about: Are mobile devices really capable of doing much of the heavy lifting required in daily workloads across the industry? Creating documents would be all-thumbs. It would have been too painful to try to write this blog post from my smartphone. My thumbs would probably go numb. And I don't think anyone would enjoy the experience of cranking out a 40-page research project or white paper from a mobile device.

As Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney so aptly put it in a Network World article from last year, "Smartphones are still content consumption devices, not content creation ones. Every knowledge worker has to do content creation, so you've got to have a desktop or a laptop to do it."

Then there's always a third way, lightweight, inexpensive netbooks, which are laptops that meet the smartphones halfway. But in content-rich environments such as insurance operations, it doesn't seem feasible that full-screen PCs and laptops will go away anytime soon. They'll just have a lot of little friends running circles around them.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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