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Reflecting the drive to find cheaper alternatives to traditional IT activities, Farmers Insurance Group is expanding its successful offshore outsourcing program and has signed a contract with Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp.

The first Insurance Innovators Award, created by InSystems, META Group and Insurance & Technology to recognize outstanding use of Internet technologies to improve business relationships, will go to Aon and its Wired for Growth(tm) program.

The Aon Wired for Growth(tm) team received the Insurance Innovators Award at the IASA Annual Educational Conference & Business Show (June 2-5, San Francisco) on Tuesday, June 4, 2002.

Aon's Wired for Growth(tm) ( is the first Web-enabled virtual risk manager, which provides growth-cycle-specific insurance products and services through an electronic platform. The site targets pre-IPO, venture-backed, emerging technology-related entities, and enables navigation by specific business event, finance event and audit event. Aon has produced more than 425 new accounts through Wired for Growth(tm) since its July 2001 launch.

Wired for Growth(tm), part of Aon's technology risk group, has a dedicated staff of professionals that serve the emerging technology industry. These services supplement their general risk consulting services, which focus on strategic risk management advice for technology businesses of all sizes. Wired for Growth(tm) is an example of industry-focused leadership from Aon.

The initiative was led by Julie K. Davis, director of Wired for Growth(tm), along with product development efforts from the Aon technology team of Steve Keogh and Patrick Donnelly, and support from Aon's Stephanie Greenberg, Chris Cieloha, Gabriela Cruz and James Maddox.

"There was a space in the marketplace that was really underserved," says Davis, explaining what inspired the creation of Wired for Growth(tm). After surveying a number of "spheres of influence," including venture capital firms, accounting organizations and law firms, the Aon group found that "emerging growth companies need to act like public companies before they go public, including the area of risk management," Davis added. The Wired for Growth Web site provides the kinds of tools these companies need to accomplish this.

Among the criteria for determining this year's winner were the following: Led development of new products/processes around the Internet; led use of the Internet to improve relationships with customers, distribution channel partners and regulators; initiated use of the Internet to stimulate new business opportunities; and achieved cost reductions and productivity gains through Internet-based processes.

The Insurance Innovators Award judging panel agreed that, while many of the more than 70 entries were outstanding, Aon's Wired for Growth(tm) was particularly innovative and successful. "Aon has gone into a market owned by other players and provided new technology-based services that the other players don't provide," commented META Group's Judy Johnson, vice president, insurance information strategies. "They met the criteria of the Insurance Innovators Award: They created processes that didn't exist before, and got it up and running."

To submit an entry for the 2003 Insurance Innovators Award, visit the InSystems Web site, at, beginning June 15, 2002. Application deadline for the next award is April 1, 2003.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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