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Johannah Rodgers
Johannah Rodgers
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Portal Supports Agent Sales and Marketing

Conseco implements ATG's portal technology to improve the functionality and scalability of Internet-based agent tools.

Relying on a network of independent marketing organizations (IMOs) and agents to market products to customers, Conseco, Inc., is always looking for ways to improve its relationship with its partners. And, as Kevin Hesler, vice president IT, explains, "we believe we can use technology to make it easier for IMOs and agents to do business with us."

Since the late 1990s, Conseco had been delivering Internet tools and applications through a legacy-based application called COINS. Developed in-house, COINS was, Hesler says, "ahead of its time when it was developed but fast becoming difficult to use and integrate."

Starting From Scratch

Seeking to implement an entirely new platform for Internet applications, Hesler and his team decided to base the new solution on portal technology. "We wanted a new platform that was easy to navigate, easy to use and one that would scale well," says Hesler, who envisions using portal technology to deliver applications to meet not only agent needs, but internal and external customer service needs, as well.

In summer 2002 Conseco began looking at six different portal vendors. Working with a third-party consulting firm, the insurer then created a short list of finalists by early fall. "We created a scoring process to evaluate each vendor on their technology, viability, functional capability and professional services," says Hesler. Noting that many of the portal vendor offerings shared similar features, Hesler explains that "we selected ATG for several reasons: They didn't flinch at the aggressive implementation timeline, their Scenario Personalization feature allows for the development of customized content, and their system architecture seemed to address many of our unique system integration challenges." Art Technology Group (ATG) is a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of e-commerce and customer self-service applications.

The new application, called consecobizlink, allows agents to easily find and access the information they need online to support sales and marketing activities. The first phase of the application was completed by the summer of 2003, and released to select users. A wider release is planned for early 2004, when the application will allow agents to access information related to real-time pending business-a key feature.

Running in an HP/UX environment, consecobizlink also is integrated with Conseco's legacy applications. "Because we have a large computing environment, we were able to implement ATG on existing hardware," says Hesler.

Agent response to the new application has been very positive, according to Stephanie Jenkins, vice president sales and marketing technology. "During the design phase, we ran focus groups and did an online survey to ask agents what they would like from a new Internet tool," says Jenkins. She expects a significant number of Conseco's 5,000 independent marketing organizations and agents to eventually access the online application.

In terms of the benefits to Conseco, Hesler says that the new system is "very stable." Having adopted a single platform for Internet applications, Hesler expects to migrate the consumer Web site to the new platform this year in order to provide policyholders with more self-service. Conseco also plans to release a new ATG-based application to internal customer service representatives, allowing single-screen access to complete policyholder and agent information.

Ease of Use

Consecobizlink can be accessed by agents through Internet Explorer 5.x and higher and has been designed with usability in mind. "We built the application in a way that will not require training," says Jenkins, who explains that well-constructed sites like are intuitive enough for first-time users to easily navigate and use.



COMPANY NAME: Conseco (Carmel, Ind.; 2001 managed assets of $94.6 billion)

LINES OF BUSINESS: Supplemental health, life and annuities.

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: Art Technology Group (Cambridge, Mass.) ATG Portal.

THE CHALLENGE: Develop and launch Internet-based sales and marketing application for agents.

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