ORLANDO, Fla., May 22, 2007 — Insurance companies flocking to the 2007 ACORD LOMA Insurance Systems Forum in Orlando this week are witnessing first-hand how consumer demands impact traditional businesses as never before. During ACORD, Microsoft and its industry partners are demonstrating how new mobility, collaboration and productivity technologies are transforming the insurance industry for the next generation of insurance leaders. To learn more, PressPass spoke with Bill Hartnett, general manager for the U.S. insurance industry at Microsoft.
PressPass: What is Microsoft announcing during ACORD?
Bill Hartnett, General Manager, U.S. Insurance Industry, Microsoft
Hartnett: Several things. First, Microsoft is announcing its participation in the creation of ACORD’s Insurance Capability Model. ACORD, the leading standards body for the industry, built its model to assist insurance companies in the alignment of emerging business practices with legacy business systems. Microsoft contributed its business-architecture methodology to the model, which serves as a framework to establish an architectural foundation for companies to build their overall business architectures and gain competitive advantages.
We’re also announcing Progressive Insurance’s new policy management application, which is built on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition (64-bit) and developed utilizing Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and the Microsoft .NET Framework. This application integrates seamlessly with existing Progressive Insurance applications and empowers its more than 28,000 employees and 30,000 agents with streamlined and efficient access to policy data.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’re using our time at ACORD to demonstrate some of the new technologies that are starting to have a real impact the traditional boundaries of this industry. Consumers are frankly demanding more interactive, real-time access to information, and their insurance agents and carriers are being forced to respond with better technologies and tools.
PressPass: What kind of technologies are you demonstrating?
Hartnett: Microsoft has a hospitality suite at the Grand Harbor Ballroom of the Disney Yacht & Beach Club. The suite showcases innovations in mobility, productivity and collaboration, including:
Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office System, a secure platform that combines productivity and collaboration tools, as well as enhanced security
Windows Mobile devices, which allow consumers to file claims remotely and agents to verify damages in real-time, on-site
Microsoft Virtual Earth, mapping software that allows carriers to approximate flood plains, add location to auto claim reporting, and more
Xbox, a gaming and entertainment device for agent offices that also serves as a secure communications and collaboration platform
Zune, a mobile entertainment player that can also be used to train insurance agents and other employees in new and interactive ways
Representatives from Towers Perrin, an actuary firm, are present in the suite to demonstrate the company’s work with Microsoft’s Windows Cluster Server 2003 for a high-performance computing solution.
PressPass: Last year, we heard a lot about Microsoft’s Insurance Value Chain (IVC) program. What’s on tap for this year?
Hartnett: Microsoft has self-running animated demos for each of the IVC scenarios available during ACORD. These will be published on Microsoft’s MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) Web site during the conference. In addition, Microsoft’s MSDN Web site will go live with:
An article written by Dan Woodman, industry technology strategist at Microsoft, discussing the IVC and Microsoft’s technical/architectural agenda for the insurance industry.
Three business solution documents for developers and architects focusing on new business origination for commercial auto, annuities and policy renewal for homeowners.
Updated content for partners and developers within insurance.
PressPass: What Microsoft IVC partners are exhibiting at ACORD?
Hartnett: Microsoft participates in the conference through support of our IVC partner ecosystem. Representatives are present at partner booths to answer questions and provide insight into the collaborative innovations for the insurance industry. These partners include Accenture, Duck Creek, Technologies, ImageNow by Perceptive, PDMA Inc., Acrosoft, Document Sciences, InsFocus Systems, RiskClick Inc., AdminServer, DSPA Software, INSTEC, SeaPass, AMS Services, EDS / Solcorp, Insurity, Skywire Software, AQS, Fair Isaac & Company, ISO Technology Solutions, Strategic Insurance SW, Blue Frog Solutions, HP, Insurance Technologies, Whitehill Technologies, Decision Research Corp., Hyland Software, Majesco Mastek and Wipro.
PressPass: In recent months, Microsoft launched the 2007 Office system, Windows Vista and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. How has that impacted insurance industry?
Hartnett: In one of the most paper-driven industries in the world, the new 2007 Office System greatly assists in migrating to paperless forms workflows via XML forms embedded in Office programs and via InfoPath. In addition, agents and employees at insurance firms can benefit from the features of SharePoint Server 2007, particularly in an Advisor Platform-type implementation, to obtain a single point of truth of customers, their policies, claims, etc. all in one place, allowing more time to interface with customers themselves, up-sell, cross-sell and prospect.
PressPass: Have there been changes within the leadership of Microsoft’s insurance team?
Hartnett: Cynthia Saccocia recently joined Microsoft as industry solution sales professional, U.S. Insurance Solution Sales. Cindy has 22 years of experience in the insurance industry, including industry analyst positions at TowerGroup and Cerulli Associates, and senior positions with Putnam Investments, SunLife Financial and Smith Barney. She is responsible for expanding strategic relationships with insurance customers and sales of mission-critical applications based on Microsoft’s enterprise technology platform.