Allstate subsequently switched to IBM (Armonk, NY) mainframes, which access IBM's DB/2, flat files and IMS tables. Allstate installed Unix platforms, running Sun Microsystems' (Palo Alto, CA) Solaris and Oracle (Redwood Shores, CA) applications, along with with Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Windows NT and SQL servers. ""The Information Builders' technology that we are using supports both Unix and NT,"" says Fontaine. ""In some cases, the specific information is on a single platform, but in many cases, the data is in several locations throughout the country and may be on different platforms, as well. We use Information Builders' database, middleware and front-end technologies to provide seamless access.""
Allstate staffed a team and trained it internally to support the Information Builders' suite of products. According to Fontaine, in addition to the internal training, 125 employees attended formal development classes hosted by the vendor. Allstate's first application was rolled out in January 1999. Currently the company has 50 applications and 12,000 users, 4,000 of whom are agents.
As of August '99 Allstate had eliminated the paper distribution of reports to the company's P&C sales organization management. Life sales organization paper reports were eliminated this past January. The estimated savings from elimination of paper-related costs are in excess of $1 million annually, according to Fontaine who reports that once the technology is rolled out to all of Allstate's agents, paper distribution can be eliminated completely.
According to Fontaine, Allstate's initial expectations have been exceeded. ""We thought that because it was a new system we might be met with some resistance,"" says Fontaine. ""However, users embraced the system immediately.""