July 2012

Letter from the Chair

By J. Eddie Smith, IV

If you’re at least 30 years old, you’ve already witnessed incredible technological change since you joined the workforce. Just rewind 10 years, and imagine the world in 2002. Think about the flip phone that you thought was so chic.

Imagine your reaction if someone had told you that by the end of first decade of the 21st century, you’d be carrying not only a phone, but a GPS device, high-definition camera (not that you would have had much appreciation for HDTV yet), and a touchscreen computer loaded with software in your pocket?

And imagine if you were told it would all fit in a single, pocket-sized device? Would you have believed it?

Not me. Until just a few years ago, the only people that I had seen use technology like we have today were James Bond and the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

I wouldn’t have believed that I would have software in my hand that could tell me the name of a song played in a coffee shop just by listening to a few notes. Or that I could take a video of my son, edit it, and share it with his grandparents in a few taps. Or that I could I use my phone to scan paper pages to PDF.

But that’s the world today, and before we know it, it will be the world of tomorrow. Technology is changing rapidly, and it’s critical that you understand what’s happening and how it will affect your life and career.

Consumer technology is rapidly becoming enterprise technology. In fact, Forrester Research recently reported that 53 percent of employees are using personally-owned technology in the workplace. Forrester predicts that in three years, companies will expect—even require—that employees bring their own technology to work.

Are you ready for that? Do you understand how big mobile has become? How big it will get? Are you using apps to their full potential in your work?

In the August 8th edition of SOA News Today, the Technology Section will announce the winners of the first ever “Apps for Actuaries” contest. We received more than 80 app ideas from SOA members!

Clearly there is tremendous interest in emerging technology among actuaries, and I believe the Technology Section is in a great position to help other SOA members get the most out of their personal and business technology. We need your help, though. After all, the section is only as strong as its members. Here are just a few ideas:

  • You can write an article for CompAct.
  • You can volunteer to put on or help with a webcast.
  • You can speak at a meeting session.
  • You can create and participate in conversations in our LinkedIn group.
  • You can suggest ways for the Technology Section to collaborate with other sections.

There are many, many ways you can help educate other members if you’re tech-savvy, and if you’re not, that’s why the Technology Section is here. Even though 2012 is winding down quickly, we have a few more items on deck.

At the Annual Meeting, the Technology Section is sponsoring two sessions:

  • “Benefit Payout Streams: Complex Products = Complex Administration. What do we do?”
  • “Apps for Actuaries”

At the Valuation Actuary Symposium, the Technology Section is sponsoring a session called “Actuarial Processes and Collaboration with IT.”

Finally, the Technology Section, along with the Actuary of the Future Section, is sponsoring a series of webinars on spreadsheet and other actuarial controls.

I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in coordinating Technology Section-sponsored events so far in 2012, and I would also like to extend a huge thank you in advance for anyone interested in contributing in the future.

J. Eddie Smith, IV, FSA, MAAA, is assistant actuary with Liberty Life Insurance Co. He can be contacted at j.eddie.smith.iv@gmail.com