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Introducing Connected Enterprise: Tracking the Industry's Transformation

Change is coming to the insurance industry, this heavily regulated and most paper- and process-bound of industries

Kathy BurgerChange is coming to the insurance industry. This heavily regulated and most paper- and process-bound of industries -- supported (or maybe hamstrung) by aging legacy systems and conditioned by a risk-averse culture -- and juggler of multiple and sometimes competing constituencies (policyholder, agent, regulator, management, end-user) is slowly but surely transforming the ways it does business. Technology, combined with vision and maturity, is enabling a new era of connectivity, where processes are handled electronically and employees, clients, distributors and partners are linked in ways that allow them to transact quickly, accurately, consistently and securely.

It's not a case of that old bugaboo, "Technology for its own sake." Yes, technology advances are making this transformation possible, but it's also being driven by competitive and financial pressures, compliance requirements, and customer (internal as well as external) demands. The result? Every day, more and more insurance companies are becoming Connected Enterprises.

To report on and analyze this transformation, Insurance & Technology is launching Connected Enterprise, a multichannel (print, online, events) editorial initiative that will delve into the industry's efforts to achieve true end-to-end electronic processing of critical, core business functions such as claims and customer service. Starting with this special edition of our bi-weekly e-mail newsletter, Connected Enterprise will present insights from experts such as the analysts of TowerGroup and executives from ACORD; best practices from some of the industry's most successful carriers; and opinions from authorities ranging from CIOs to regulators to association officials about the obstacles and opportunities facing organizations that seek to connect with partners, customers, vendors and sometimes even competitors.

Today's inaugural newsletter special edition features analysis from ACORD about improving the claims "moment of truth," by Denise Garth, ACORD's vice president, membership and development; as well as a report from Tim Kennedy, CSC's director of R&D, Financial Services Group, on reinventing claims management for life and annuity insurers. The issue also includes a discussion of how Hastings Mutual Insurance Co. has modernized its claims process, authored by Ray Rose, the carrier's claims manager. Future issues will offer more industry perspectives, in addition to case studies, news and opinions about the successes -- and setbacks -- that insurance companies are realizing in the promising realm of e-processing and interaction.

Each quarter, the content of all the Connected Enterprise channels will focus on one high-profile topic: Claims, Enabling Distribution, Customer-Centricity/Support and Securing the Connected Enterprise. What will make our coverage unique is our ability to analyze these core functions in the context of integration and connectivity -- elusive goals that insurance companies have pursued with mixed success for many years (certainly throughout the nearly 14 years during which I have covered the insurance technology industry).

Yet change has occurred: Standards have become pervasive in the industry, open systems have become something real and paper really is being taken out of the process. Add to this the power of the Internet, advancements in long-standing technologies such as imaging and storage, a new understanding of concepts such as workflow and business process management, and, not least, the emergence of CIOs and other technology executives from the back office. The result: a true "tipping point" in the industry, where a new way of thinking and doing things is finally taking hold.

Are we there yet? Of course not -- the road to a truly straight-through insurance processing environment still contains many twists, turns, speed bumps and detours. But, after years of traveling in the wilderness, it's beginning to look like the industry is on the right path. Stay with Insurance & Technology as, via Connected Enterprise, we provide your guide to the journey.

Kathy Burger
Editorial Director
Insurance & Technology

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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