NU Online News Service, June 14, 10:33 a.m. – LOMA, Atlanta, has released a study suggesting that life insurers and other financial services companies could be making better use of technology.

Stephen Forbes, the author of the study, concedes that financial services companies are doing more to exploit technology than they used to.

But Forbes, LOMA’s senior vice president of research, says financial services companies are still fighting organizational resistance to the need for new business practices; regulatory and legal barriers; inadequate computer standards and network infrastructure; and uneven performance by outside information-technology suppliers.

Forbes identifies XML — a set of a rules for developing systems that can help computers translate information from one database format to another — as one of the hottest technologies in the financial services industry, and wireless data services as one of the coolest.

In theory, equipping life insurance producers with wireless hand-held computers could increase their productivity, by freeing them from the need to spend hours staring at desktop computer screens, rather than meeting face-to-face with prospective customers.

Although wireless technology sounds exciting, XML is “far more important than wireless at this point because it has wider applications and more immediate impact,” Forbes says.

In addition to XML and wireless, Forbes’ report also looks at standards, communications systems, computer hardware, voice recognition, data management, data privacy, data security, and the capacity of financial services companies’ existing computers.