Although Cigna still offers more traditional health plans, the company also offers higher-deductible plans, in which consumers pay a bigger co-payments and other health-care costs in exchange for lower premiums. The new online services will be part of the core services Cigna makes available to all members, regardless of their benefit plans, Storer says.
Cigna also will ramp up its data-mining and analytics efforts to provide aggregate cost-comparison information to employers, so that an employer in the transportation industry can compare its employee health costs and needs with transportation-industry averages.
For many companies, improving security is a never-ending task; it ranked in the top five priorities this year and last year. "The Internet is a way for people to save money, but you need to be vigilant," says Dennis Biederman, VP of global IT services at APW Ltd., a $700 million-a-year manufacturer of electrical enclosure products. "There are new challenges and threats each year." And while security efforts likely won't eat up a lot of money from APW's IT budget in 2006, it will require people and time, he says.
Under consideration is deploying biometrics to APW's road warriors. "Because our people travel, they are susceptible to losing or misplacing their [laptops] at customer sites or vendors," he says. Biometrics is one of the ways to ensure that what's on the laptop is seen only by people authorized to see it. Also, APW is testing Wi-Fi for its traveling workers, "but that's a potential security risk, too," Biederman says.
But that's not the big payoff. "Ultimately, everything is about customer relations," he says. When you're selling cars for up to a half-million dollars, improving customer relationships is priceless.