Wireless networking offers limited value to sector

While financial markets were one of the pioneers in terms of Blackberry devices, cell phones and pagers on trade floors, this sector is the lowest among adopters of wireless networking.

Only seven per cent of financial services CIOs interviewed recently by IDC Canada saw a significant impact of wireless networking technology in terms of its ability to increase operational efficiency within an organization, confirms Patricia Howell, senior analyst, Financial Insights, IDC Canada. More than 60 per cent of these respondents expected little to no impact from wireless networking solutions.

“If you look at what they are doing in the wireless space with respect to the banking industry, you see a good deal of wireless banking and brokerage solutions to the consumer but not really wireless networking solutions within an organization,” she says.

Based on studying 18 vertical markets and then rolling them into five macro-level markets, IDC reports that the importance of wireless technology to financial services lags behind public sector, manufacturing, infrastructure and distribution. On aggregate, 34 per cent of financial services firms are either considering or acquiring wireless networking over the next 12-18 months, compared to health care and government’s 45 per cent.

One reason is that employees tend to sit at their desks from nine to five. However, some exceptions exist, adds James Sharp, vice-president, Customer Segments Research, IDC Canada. One of these is in insurance where wireless can enable mobile claims adjusters.

“If they can get the claim in one day faster by wirelessly enabling the claims adjudicator in the field, that’s one day they don’t have to rent you a car,” he says. “There are some cycle time efficiencies available in the P&C insurance industry. Telecom providers and Research in Motion are aggressively positioning mobile solutions for P&C.”

Another growth area for wire-less in the U.S. at least is a mobile mortgage sales force, says Sharp. “We’re seeing some uptake for wireless solutions in that particular space.”

Branch redesign is yet another wireless networking application potential Sharp sees after talking to two executives — one in a mid-tier sized institution and one in a big five bank. “At the end of February you generally have your standard mutual fund crunch,” he explains.

“One of the things banks are looking at is ‘can I dynamically reconfigure the physical layout of my branch to deal with spikes in workload?’ If you’re not dealing with cabling but mobile workstations, mobile pods can be dynamically reconfigured into an RRSP-focused station so we can dynamically isolate tellers issuing RRSP business. Flexibility in branch design is key.”

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