Increasing demand for mobile computing capabilities is forcing IT executives to fret about everything from device support and application development strategies to a whole new set of security concerns, with huge rewards awaiting those who tackle these issues most effectively.
As a financial services company, Primerica places a premium on security. And with its business model inextricably tied to a network of 90,000 independent sales representatives, most of whom have selected their own devices, the company has a policy in place to ensure that data is encrypted at rest and during transmission, and that data is deleted at the end of its life cycle, says CIO Wade. Most importantly, Wade says he needs to be certain that data related to Primerica's customer base is adequately protected. "You want to make sure you don't have any data loss protection issues," says Wade.
Primerica's security focus is reflected in its careful approach to mobile apps. One of the first rolled out thus far is Roambi, an Apple iOS-specific tool that integrates with and graphically presents data from the company's IBM Cognos BI system. When a sales rep wants to check, say, how much insurance he or she has sold in the past quarter, Roambi checks Primerica's LDAP server to verify the user's permissions before unlocking the requested data.
As security conscious as Primerica has been about its mobile activities, the company considers itself out in front of the competition. To wit, the company has developed a mobile browser-based app called Term Now, which enables sales reps to underwrite and issue a life insurance policy worth up to $250,000 from a mobile device in just three minutes--down from a process that previously could take up to 90 days to complete. "Nobody's doing that," says Wade. "We're five years ahead of anybody else."
Meanwhile, Wade says the company is evaluating "everything that's out there right now" as it considers what technologies it will rely on in the long term for such challenges as device management and mobile app development. When it comes to the latter, Wade seems to be leaning toward a wait-and-see strategy rather than having his IT team write distinct apps for iOS, Droid, BlackBerry and other platforms.