eAgency Puts Insurance on the BlackBerry

CHICAGO — Application service provider (ASP) eAgency
is taking its business outside the PC and onto
Blackberry-powered mobile devices, after a two-month
development effort with Sun Microsystems and Research in Motion . The announcement came Tuesday evening, during the RIM Wireless
Enterprise Symposium.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based ASP eAgency
caters to independent insurance agents, most of whom work from their home or small offices with
no access to IT support. The company said the ability to automate
the sales process will provide an invaluable
service to those who spend most of their time visiting
customers.

Called Nice Office Wireless, the application provides services including
customer relationship management (CRM), claims status information and insurance form services over a BlackBerry-powered device.
The ASP said its market includes
approximately 2.5 million independent insurance agents
in the U.S.

“I think they’re dying, because they’re always on the
cell phone. They can’t get anyone on the phone, they
can’t get the data,” said Chuck Cronin, who took the
CEO reins of the company Monday after 30 years in the
insurance industry.

Now, instead of going online and downloading
forms from the eAgency Web site, agents can call up
the information from their mobile devices, and then either
e-mail or fax the form to the customer. Customer
information can be called up immediately, as can
underwriting or commission status.

Nice Office is the kind of application that Research
in Motion (RIM), manufacturer of the BlackBerry device and developer of the
software, said is needed to meet demands
for industry-specific
sectors.

David Heit, a RIM senior product manager, said that
while there are many third-party vendors who provide
BlackBerry applications for CRM and sales force
automation, there are not many that target specific
verticals.

“These are the kind of applications that are just
starting to identify themselves in the market,” he
said. “Different people have different needs, and I
think you’ll see more of these niche products in the
future.”

Because eAgency is a private company, Cronin wouldn’t give specific
customer numbers, but said the ASP service has between
800 and1,000 subscribers. With “significant funding” and
access to the sales force of partners like RIM and
Sun, he expects his product to grab a lot of attention
within the insurance industry.

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