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Annuity System: Scalable, Flexible and Fast

TIAA-CREF sought an admin system for its after-tax variable annuity business that was scalable and flexible, would enable greater speed-to-market, and would fit in with the company's future technology roadmap.

TIAA-CREF (New York; $380 billion in assets) had a good system for its after-tax variable annuity business, but weighing the demands of its clients, the national financial services organization decided it wasn't good enough. "Listening to the marketplace and to what our clients said, we felt we had to look for a system that was scalable and flexible, that could get new products to market quickly, and that would fit in with our future technology blueprint," says Bob Colonna, director of IT, product support, TIAA-CREF. "We wanted something that was table-driven, on which it was easier to make changes, as well as being simpler in terms of maintenance."

TIAA-CREF selected NaviSys' (Edison, N.J.) J2EE-based, rules-driven Home Office system in 2004. The carrier implemented the system first for new business in January 2005, in order to test customer impact and get employees trained, according to Colonna. At the same time, TIAA-CREF started the analysis, requirements and mapping for conversion of the old system's business onto the NaviSys platform. "We spent 2005 putting additional functionality on the Home Office platform while we were going through the conversion process," Colonna relates.

The conversion went live in February 2006 with more than 100,000 policies transferred to the NaviSys platform - and with no adverse customer impact, according to Colonna, who says he is satisfied with how the system meshes with TIAA-CREF's technology plans. "We're running on Oracle [Redwood Shores, Calif.]/Unix, and [San Jose, Calif.-based BEA's] WebLogic is the front end, so it fits with the direction we're going," he says.

TIAA-CREF declines to speak about dollars invested, but Colonna is clear on where he expects to see it bear fruit. "The configurability of the system is where you get the payoff because you should be able to configure products very easily on the system," he says. "Some of it can even be done without IT involvement, and the system also reduces the amount of testing."

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Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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