Why this $90 Billion British Insurer is High on BlackBerry PlayBooks | ZDNet
Summary: Can arming field reps with BlackBerry PlayBooks boost their productivity threefold? This insurance giant is optimistic it will.
The dream of the Paperless Office progresses slowly. But in one front in the War Against Dead Trees, a British insurance firm hopes to make leaps and bounds by using BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
Aviva has armed 120 of its property risk reps with the much-maligned RIM tablet and a custom-built electronic form app that it hopes will boost their productivity by threefold.
Headquartered in London, Aviva is the sixth-largest insurance company in the world, with 46,000 employees and more than $90 billion in annual revenue.
The troubles of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet are well-documented. So why did Aviva choose the PlayBook?
“Blackberry devices, their software and a support process were already well established within this particular region of the Aviva Group,” said Paul Heybourne, senior project manager at Aviva, in an e-mail interview. “This, coupled with the security aspects of the Playbook and the ergonomics of the device, helped form the decision for it to be our tablet of choice” for this pilot.
Formicary Collaboration Group built the SOLAR app, its second for the PlayBook. Formicary built one of the first corporate apps for the PlayBook for RBS, or the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The RBS Global Banking and Markets app (watch the video here) allows professional money managers to track and read research on fixed income, commodities and currencies while on the go. Released in June 2011, the app does not yet allow clients to actually trade via the PlayBook yet, though RBS has said that is a possibility in the future.
For RBS, Formicary built the app using HTML 5 and other Web standard technology, employing four developers who worked non-stop over two months, said Alistair Milne, Formicary’s project manager for the Aviva project, via phone.
For Aviva, Formicary instead chose to use Adobe Systems’s AIR platform and Flash, instead.
With RBS, “the technical demands were more around the exchange of data,” Milne said. But with Aviva, “one of the requirements was to be able to send [completed] forms back to specified e-mail addresses.”
“As a device, the PlayBook is actually very solid and feels remarkably mature. But there were certain things missing in version 1.0 of the PlayBook’s operating system,” said Milne, that prevented them from using HTML5. Things the PlayBook v1.0 lacked include a native e-mail client as well as a true Software Development Kit (SDK).