Kevin E. Murray is the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of AXA Equitable. As CIO, he is responsible for AXA Equitable’s systems strategy, development and maintenance. Ongoing contact with his IT teams and enterprise data center is essential to keeping critical systems up and running. With more than 25 years of IT experience, he’s seen wireless communications evolve dramatically. Through his experience managing large portfolios and strategic implementation for companies such as AIG, Blue Cross Blue Shield and J.P. Morgan, he has a valuable perspective on the role the BlackBerry® solution plays in mobilizing organizations.
He also couldn’t live without his own BlackBerry® device. Find out where the BlackBerry solution makes a difference to this CIO and his organization.
BlackBerry Connection®: People often say they can’t live without their BlackBerry devices. How would you describe how important your device is to you?
Kevin Murray: For better or for worse, my BlackBerry device has become an appendage – both an invaluable business and personal tool for me. In my position, I need to know immediately if there’s any kind of outage or technology issue that I need to get involved in. Whether I’m in a meeting or at home on the weekend, I can just take a quick look at my email and I’m instantly in touch.
There are very few business players today without one. Everyone has their way of incorporating it into life and work. It was funny at an offsite meeting recently where I made everyone put their BlackBerry devices on vibrate and leave them all in a box, so there wouldn’t be any distractions. We had to change the profiles and put them all on silent because, once all those devices started going off, it sounded like a humming box full of bees and became more distracting.
BC: What tools do you have on your device for personal use?
KM: I’ve loaded applications for Google® Mobile Maps and the ZAGAT restaurant guide, which are great assets. If I’m in New York and I’m looking for a Starbucks, Google Mobile Maps will show me every Starbucks in the area I’m in and the ZAGAT restaurant guide will give me a choice of places to eat. I’ve also learned to use The Weather Channel application which actually gives you an animated radar map. I’ve become the guy everyone wants to be around when they need coffee, food or a weather report.
BC: When you brought the BlackBerry® Enterprise Solution into AXA Equitable, did you have a vision for it beyond email?
KM: It began as a very tactical decision: ‘let’s get email and calendar out to our sales force.’ But every CIO knows that PDA devices are going to be the way of the future, particularly as voice recognition goes to the next level. That integration and access – back to work, back to your data, back to your business applications – is going to be through something like a BlackBerry device. I’m impressed with how well Research In Motion has kept up with all this. Just the fact that we’ve now been able to push out business applications has been impressive.
BC: How has the BlackBerry solution influenced the way your company works?
KM: We have large distribution networks that we use to sell our products. The BlackBerry device has been invaluable there for helping our sales force stay in touch. And we’ve done a pretty good job of beginning integration with our Siebel systems through a sales force application called mWholesaler™ by Pyxis Mobile.
This application allows our sales people to get client information, reports and data on their BlackBerry devices to help them do their jobs day-to-day. It’s made them much more productive because they no longer have to come back to the office to regroup and get the information they need between sales calls.
BC: How has moving to the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution affected your IT decisions and structure?
KM: In our infrastructure strategy, we now choose products that are open, non-proprietary and easily integrated into the BlackBerry world. We now want every application we install to be thin-client and browser-based so that we can get customer service data out to BlackBerry devices. I believe in the future we’ll be doing wireless transactions, such as buying and tracking company products. I think we’ll also move to mobilizing our customer service efforts to field personnel, in addition to having customers using our IVR telephone systems.
BC: What insight would you pass on to a fellow CIO from what you’ve learned about wireless technology?
KM: I think the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution has pushed the envelope for me and all CIOs in showing us this is going to be a wireless world. We used to be able to develop business applications and service customers from inside our network, by simply connecting to the Internet, but that no longer suffices. The wires will go away. Our sales force could not live without their BlackBerry devices because they need their client data with them on the road. The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution has pushed us and shown us the future, where we’re going to have to figure out how to connect all of our business apps and all of our data, where appropriate, to BlackBerry devices. Research In Motion is, to me, leading the way in this pursuit.
BlackBerry® Solutions for Sales Force Automation
IDC Paper: Wireless Sales Force Automation on BlackBerry Strengthens the Sales Pitch (PDF)
Mobilize Your Sales Force datasheet (PDF)
mWholesaler by Pyxis Mobile
Sales Force Automation Applications
Customer Success Stories
Access the sites mentioned in this article from your BlackBerry device by selecting a web browser and go to:
Google Mobile Maps - http://www.google.com/gmm
ZAGAT Restaurant Guide - http://mobile.zagat.com/blackberry.htm
The Weather Channel - http://www.weather.com (service is carrier-dependent)