Computerized policy management, from quoting to paying claims, has been part of the insurance industry for the past four decades, but the various legacy systems in place dont connect seamlessly to one another. The variety of proprietary systems used by carriers has meant that agents and brokers have to find ways to communicate with the carriers and to consolidate information for their clients.
Insurance agents had to rely on third parties such as IVANS, or on proprietary computer connections, to exchange information with carriers. This could be slow, cumbersome and expensive—or impossible without resorting to duplicate data entry. Over 40 years, insurance carriers have built up so much on their back end that theyre restricting access to new products due to the weight of their legacy applications.
"One of the top issues at most property and casualty insurers is legacy-system preservation and migration," said Kimberly Harris, vice president and research director at Gartner. "Because of the cost embedded in these systems, there is a need to leverage their investment.
"At the same time, there are business requirements—from partner and supply-chain transactions to regulatory compliance—that must be managed within these companies. Web services and a service-oriented architecture [SOA]-based infrastructure enable a people- and process-centric approach, collaborative processes and legacy preservation."
Enter Webify Solutions Inc., built on IBMs on-demand architecture. Manoj Saxena, Webifys CEO, describes the companys offerings as enterprise software that delivers SOAPs (Simple Object Access Protocols) that help insurance companies leverage and extend the life of legacy applications, while simultaneously pushing out new functionality.
On-demand applications are a new category of service-oriented business applications that dynamically integrate people, processes and information across enterprise and application boundaries.
Based on SOA, on-demand applications let companies publish business processes and transactions as business Web services, which customers and business partners can discover and provision "on demand" into their own business processes with a few clicks of a mouse. Companies can build on each others services in this manner, creating new, loosely coupled applications that drive transaction flow and business visibility across the extended enterprise.
One of the issues in the insurance industry is business agility, or the ability to launch new products faster than the competition. Carriers and agents have been saddled with infrastructure over the past 40 years that slows them down.
Webify has leveraged IBM on-demand architecture to allow insurance agents to connect to carriers systems via a browser, as well as directly machine-to-machine. The goal is to increase depth and breadth of information exchange between a carrier, and agents who sell that carriers products and service customers.