February 2012

Letter from the Chair

by J. Eddie Smith

J. Eddie Smith, IV, FSA, MAAA

Those that know me personally and professionally know that I'm a huge fan of apps. I rely on mobile apps more every day. I've realized that apps aren't just a tech fad. I truly believe that apps will revolutionize how we consume and produce media.

Yes, produce. I actually wrote this entire article on my iPad—something I never dreamed I might do a couple of years ago. My iPad, while great for casual Web browsing and reading at home, has become one of my most-used appliances at work. From email to task management to PDF utilities, the iPad makes my job easier.

Just this year, I finally broke down and bought an external keyboard for my iPad (the Apple Wireless Keyboard if you're wondering). The ability to type at full-sized keyboard speeds was a game changer. Because of the iPad's long battery life and increasing software capabilities, I'm finding that my laptop stays at home more.

The iPad is the ideal peripheral for an anchored PC desktop—providing convenient calendar access or perhaps acting as a reference screen. And unlike most laptops, the iPad can easily go all day on battery that starts the day at less than 100 percent. No cords to worry about. No waiting on it to boot up. It just molds itself to any environment.

Apps for Actuaries

Given my enthusiasm for apps, it shouldn't be surprising that I enjoyed the opportunity to play a minor role in the design of the SOA's newly minted site AppsForActuaries.org, a great resource for actuaries looking for apps they can put to use in their work.

And to help punctuate the SOA's commitment to mobile app adoption, the Technology Section is sponsoring a contest to find great ideas for actuarial apps.

If you have an idea for an app that you think other actuaries would find useful on the job, you can submit it through AppsForActuaries.org. We will evaluate the ideas and award iPads for up to three ideas. That's right—you can win an iPad just for submitting an idea for an app that other actuaries would find useful.

Ideas must be submitted no later than June 15, and winners will be announced August 1. You can find complete contest details at AppsForActuaries.org. For more information, see the Apps For Actuaries Contest article in this newsletter.

Looking ahead in 2012

If apps aren't your thing (yet), don't worry. The Technology Section council is hard at work on other initiatives, too. Be on the lookout for the following events and sessions, which will be sponsored in part or in full by the Technology Section later this year.

At the Life & Health Symposium in May:

  • "Actuaries and IT: Can't We All Just Get Along?"
  • "Best Practices for Excel Design and Controls"
  • "Transnational Business Case for Business Intelligence"

At the Health Meeting in June:

  • "Best Practices for Excel Design and Controls"
  • "Business Case for Business Intelligence"

2012 Webcasts:

  • "Best Practices of Spreadsheet Design and Control" – late May
  • "Fixing the Excel Spreadsheet Mess" – early September
  • "Beyond Excel – Modeling with SAS/MatLab" – late 2012 to early 2013

As you can see, 2012 will be an active year for the Technology Section, but we would love to hear from you about more technology topics you'd like to see. Email us, or let us know through our LinkedIn group.