There is no dearth of products and services offered that enable e-commerce in life insurance.
Among ClientSoft Inc.s contributions are ClientBuilder WebPack and ClientBuilder AdvancedServer. These products extend legacy applications to the Web and integrate the legacy applications with other applications, says Brian A. Anderson, product marketing manager, ClientSoft, Alpharetta, Ga.
“Our products are used by insurance companies to implement new Web-based corporate initiatives such as customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning as well as any other solution needing access to mainframe or AS/400 based information,” Anderson says.
He gives as an example the partnership between ClientSoft and Allstate, Northbrook, Ill., that helped create The Good Hands Network.
“The Good Hands Network serves as the centerpiece of Allstates visionary multi-access strategy, a customer-centric approach that integrates the network of approximately 13,000 Allstate agents with customer call centers and the Internet,” Anderson says.
“Currently available to about 40% of the U.S. population, and expected to reach much more of the U.S. populace by the end of this year, the multi-access strategy allows customers to reach Allstate how, when and where they want to be served,” he continues.
Through this strategy, customers can speak directly with a local Allstate agent, contact a call center or sign on to the Internet to get a quote, to buy insurance for their cars, homes, condos or apartments. They can also make policy changes, Anderson says.
The process of arriving at this level of capability was not without its challenges, he adds.
“Allstate in fact had several hurdles to overcome, with the most significant being how to provide its new Web-based network with fast, reliable, and transparent access to the roughly 35 million policies and billions of bits of customer and other data that were stored on its IBM AS/400 legacy systems,” he says.
“A second major challenge that Allstate faced was the need to implement the link between these diverse systems in a very short timeframe in order to ensure that the company met its publicly announced rollout objectives for the year 2000.”
The Allstate information technology staff evaluated various middleware solutions from a number of software vendors, and ultimately selected ClientSofts ClientBuilder WebPack, Anderson says.
ClientBuilder WebPack is a ClientSoft product focused on the insurance industry, Anderson explains. Its a development toolkit that enables host-based applications and databases to be extended and transformed to the Internetor an intranet or extranetproviding a path to e-business and e-commerce opportunities, Anderson says.
An advantage of WebPack is that it “allows for the enhancement of legacy applications through the integration of other desktop tools such as Visual Basic, Java, PowerBuilder, ODBC, COM, DCOM, XML, CORBA, and IBMs MQSeries,” he says.
ClientBuilder AdvancedServer completes the ClientSoft development toolkit that enables host-based applications to be extended and safely transformed to the Internet, intranet and extranet, providing a path to e-business and e-commerce opportunities, Anderson says.
AdvancedServer features a new legacy integration transaction server, designed from the ground up as a high performance solution using industry standard data communications, messaging protocols and development tools, such as XML and SOAP, he says.
AdvancedServer bridges the host-to-Web gap, leveraging existing hardware investments and providing the ability to scale to high-performance hardware components, Anderson says.
ClientBuilder solutions begin at $50,000, he says.
NaviSys, Edison, N.J., offers “strategic counsel, pre-built software and ongoing support,” according to John Gorman, executive vice president, sales and marketing.
In 2001, NaviSys launched NaviSys Front Office, a comprehensive solution for selling and servicing multiple lines of life and annuity products, Gorman says.
This technology-neutral suite of integrated solutions provides insurers with a single platform that can span multiple distribution channels and product lines, he notes.
Using a browser, Front Office allows producers to illustrate products, provide quotes and submit applications and underwriting requests electronically, Gorman says. Consumers can access the most current product information, purchase products online and maintain all of their accounts across a financial institution through a single interface, he adds.