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IVANS Divides Operations

Networking and e-commerce units respond to changing market.

In its continuing bid to reinvent itself in the post-Internet era, electronic data communications firm IVANS has reorganized its business into two operating units: insurance e-commerce solutions and networking solutions.

Chief among the reasons for the divisional split is IVANS' increasing diversity, in terms of both clients and offerings, according to Anna England, vice president, e-commerce solutions.

IVANS' traditional P&C-heavy customer base has seen a bulge in healthcare companies "around our networking solutions particularly, because of HIPAA and HCFA requirements for payors and providers to exchange health information," England says. On the e-commerce side of the house, the company has diversified its offerings to include non-traditional communications channels. "We're not just privateinfrastructure anymore; we're public Internet and carrier and agent choice," she adds.

XML Is Critical

The reorganization reflects IVANS' awareness of a need to reinvent itself, according to Jamie Bisker, director of research for TowerGroup's (Needham, MA) insurance practice. To survive and be true to its origins, IVANS has to "stay current with the demands of the original carriers that put them together, as well as their current constituency," while anticipating market and technology trends, Bisker says. "Electronic data communications are essential, and the things that are happening around standards, such as the XML standards that ACORD is putting together, are critical."

IVANS can play an important role in facilitating those developments as long as it remains vigilant and engaged in the changing scene, in Bisker's view.

The organization has enjoyed strong support for its flagship offering, Transformation Station-co-developed with Applied Systems (University Park, IL)-which provides a single entry, multiple carrier interface (SEMCI) to independent agents, and which represents an important investment direction for IVANS. Nevertheless, there has been some industry buzz that uptake among agents has disappointed expectations. It's a mistake to expect change to happen very quickly in the insurance industry, in Bisker's view, and with carriers such as The Hartford, Progressive and Travelers buying into Transformation Station, there is no immediate cause for alarm, he says.

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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