Research in Motion is treading a thin line entering 2011 -- the company's ads show average consumers using its BlackBerry smartphone, and co-CEO Jim Balsillie noted earlier this month that RIM is looking to emerging markets to grow its consumer footprint. But RIM's recently released PlayBook tablet computer is not being positioned so much as an alternative to Apple's consumer-friendly iPad, but rather as a business-friendly enterprise device that is more secure and more accessible to developers.Meanwhile, Apple, Google and Microsoft all present significant challenges to the BlackBerry in terms of consumer adoption. In addition, while Reuters reports that carrier Sun Life is set to order up to 1,000 PlayBooks, one insurance CIO told I&T that the PlayBook's tethering mechanism for Internet access could doom the device. This year, we'll be on the lookout to see where RIM's CEOs place their bets -- on consumer adoption, or on redoubling efforts to make the BlackBerry the mobile device of choice for business.
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)
Rep. John Boehner stands to become the next Speaker of the House following the Republicans' victories in the midterm elections. Near the top of the Republicans' to-do list is repealing or revamping aspects of the healthcare reform bill that was signed into law in March. "It is important for us to lay the groundwork before we begin to repeal this monstrosity and replace it with common-sense reforms," Boehner reportedly said shortly after the elections. He also spoke on his party's strategy regarding the financial regulation bill, according to the Wall Street Journal: "The financial services bill ... is going to require a significant amount of oversight so ... [we] understand just what this bill will do to our financial services industry." Carriers should closely follow how Boehner, as the new de facto leader of his party in Congress, acts on the Republican strategy, especially as it looks to recapture the executive branch in 2012.
Akhil Tripathi, CEO, Unirisx
When 2008 Elite 8 honoree Akhil Tripathi resigned suddenly from the CIO role at Harleysville Insurance, where he oversaw the implementation of policy administration platforms and pioneered sophisticated analytics technology for underwriting and pricing risk, among other accomplishments, there were many questions as to what had spurred the move. With the announcement in October that he would assume the CEO role at Radnor, Pa.-based policy admin system vendor Unirisx, Tripathi now drives the development of these capabilities for insurers. "Having spent more than 20 years on the carrier side of the business, I have witnessed the lack of a configurable and flexible policy administration and product management solution with strong business rules capability," comments Tripathi. "When I first saw the Unirisx platform, I was thoroughly impressed with the product configuration, underwriting management and overall policy administration capabilities." Time will tell if insurance executives agree.
Robert H. Benmosche, CEO, AIG
Bob Benmosche took on what many saw as a difficult "salvage" task when he became CEO of post-financial crisis AIG. The former MetLife CEO's swaggering style has both earned detractors and inspired confidence that he can turn around AIG. But Benmosche's character is being tested by news that he has cancer, though he has not yet disclosed the type. His challenge now, while his health remains good, is to move the company toward a stock offering that will enable AIG to pay back the government loan resulting from the bailout. Benmosche recently told the Wall Street Journal that he hopes to disclose the details of his condition soon. "If the prognosis is good, and I've got enough horizon and good health, then I would like to see the government sold out," he said. "But if at that point ... there's still concern, then I will ask the board to start a more serious discussion on how they will deal with succession." The results of that discussion could be felt across the entire industry.