LAS VEGAS, May 22, 2006 — Insurance companies flocking to the ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Form in Las Vegas – May 22–24 – will learn that Microsoft has created a prescriptive architecture framework designed to help insurance customers obtain pre-integrated Microsoft partner applications around core insurance business processes. Called the Insurance Value Chain Architecture Framework v1.0, the initiative seeks to reduce millions of dollars of post-purchase integration pain on the part of insurance companies.
To learn more, PressPass spoke with Kevin Kelly, managing director for the U.S. insurance industry at Microsoft.
PressPass: How does the Insurance Value Chain Architecture Framework (IVCAF) v1.0 address the needs of insurance companies?
Kelly: The Insurance Value Chain Architecture Framework (IVCAF) v1.0 assists insurance companies in learning about SOA architecture and developing what we call “composite applications” around insurance business processes. Ultimately, the IVCAF is designed to reduce the time and cost required by insurance customers attempting to integrate applications for cross-enterprise workflows. It also assists customers in selecting and purchasing best-of-breed products from Microsoft’s growing insurance partner ecosystem.
PressPass: What are the cross-enterprise workflows that are important to insurance companies?
Kelly: They are myriad and exist all across the value-chain: point-of-sale and service transactions, complex underwriting collaboration activities, claims administration and management and more. Insurance transactions are long-running and are constantly crossing application and enterprise boundaries. Today, people perform most of that integration using re-keying, scribbling notes down from one app to another, sending faxes and e-mails, on and on. Our aim is to deliver a suite of partner applications that have pre-integrated those workflows, to help the industry see how it is done and more importantly to make those applications more attractive to enterprise customers desiring to deploy feature-rich applications, rapidly. At ACORD, we’ll demonstrate four initial scenarios as part of the IVCAF:
New business homeowner’s policy processing, featuring partners AMS (point-of-sale and service) and Bluebook International Inc. (replacement cost and property data)
New business commercial auto policy processing, featuring partners XDimensional Technologies Inc. (point-of-sale and service), INSTEC (rate and quote), Insuresoft (underwriting and policy administration) and Bluebook International Inc. (replacement cost and property data)
Personal auto collision repair and bodily injury claims, featuring partners ProcessClaims (collision repair processing) and Injury Sciences (bodily injury evaluation)
Wealth management and life and annuities enrollment, featuring partners Impact Technologies Group Inc. (point-of-sale and service), Insurance Technologies Inc. (financial needs analysis, illustration and quotation, and electronic application) and AdminServer Inc. (rate and quote, underwriting and policy administration)
PressPass: What is Microsoft specifically delivering to customers as part of the IVCAF?
Kevin Kelly, Managing Director, Insurance Industry, Microsoft Financial Services Unit
Kelly: We’re delivering a library of production-quality integrations, business narratives, Microsoft Visio process models, XML and Web services messaging recommendations, and platform-specific implementation guidance. This will be delivered through an ever-growing library of scenarios (four debuted at ACORD) featuring partner products – with all the supporting information and code uploaded to MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network).
PressPass: You launched this before ACORD during IBM’s IAA event. How does the IVC architecture v1.0 differ from IBM’s IAA?
Kelly: Microsoft’s IVCAF v1.0 is an ecosystem-based approach that relies heavily on industry standards to be implemented. It was created because we recognized that the industry was being fed the same processing models from providers that have prevented product and service differentiation – i.e., the new legacy. To tackle this issue head on, we created and hosted IVC integration labs in which industry partners came together to design and build integration scenarios and facilitate long-sought workflows. The results, which we believe will be markedly different than IBM’s approach, will enable innovation and choice, absent large consulting engagement to accomplish basic integration and workflow design.
PressPass: What has the response been from insurance companies who have learned about the IVC architecture framework?
Kelly: Customers and partners are excited about it because it solves many of the problems related to post-software-integration pain. This is the next-level of solutions delivery, applications already tied together via Web services. Customer and partners can also use our IVC labs to jointly develop specific scenarios based on actual needs or specific pains. That makes the development of our framework something that customer can actually participate in and drive. We believe that is a very strong industry relationship enhancement that is long overdue.
PressPass: I see that the IVC architecture will eventually span the spectrum of P&C and life insurance business processes? When will this be complete?
Kelly: The IVC architecture framework is truly an iterative process, based on a five-year vision. The four scenarios we recently announced and are demonstrating live at ACORD are based on much-needed workflows asked for by our customers right now. Over time, the IVCAF will deliver more and more scenarios that will make it a “well to be drawn from,” time and time again.
PressPass: What opportunities does this architecture present for Microsoft partners?
Kelly: It enables them to demonstrate their unique application offerings as part of a larger insurance processing solution. It also allows them to help solve complex industry problems, without losing their identities in the process. This is synergy defined – the creation of composite capabilities that the individual apps and companies do not possess. They can all be seen as innovating in the areas of workflow and productivity improvements, while retaining their unique value propositions.
PressPass: What history does Microsoft have in serving the insurance industry and how will Microsoft continue to improve on the delivery of solutions to this market segment?
Kelly: Microsoft serves millions of insurance industry employees and customers worldwide with our operating systems, our development tools, our productivity applications and hundreds of incredible partner solutions. That’s just a baseline that grows all the time. Our work with the ACORD insurance standards organization on the evolution of standards and the creation of its life-side business is but one example of our commitment to this industry’s shared needs. Our focus on stimulating the development of the next-generation of innovative IVC business applications places us squarely inline with the industry’s desire to escape a cash-draining yesterday and achieve improved results through better business processes. We have successfully merged the customer’s primary business objectives with our development through our IVC and, year-over-year, our ability to better partner with the industry has grown as well.