Aiming to support an aggressive expansion of its youth insurance business, UICI Student Insurance has implemented a major data warehouse project. The company's ARS (analytical reporting system) project enables the delivery of mission-critical information to company executives and serves as a foundation for technology renewal.
The Plano, Texas-based organization has assembled a best-of-breed solution consisting of Ascential Software's (Westboro, Mass.) Enterprise Integration Suite, and a suite of Cognos (Ottawa, Ontario) products for online analytic processing. The core of the ARS solution is the creation of an enterprise data warehouse that will consolidate data from existing information systems and a new claims system, according to Rick Doucette, CIO, UICI Student Insurance. UICI's ARS will "provide timely, accurate information to drive our business"it's our new single source of truth, if you will," remarks Doucette.
Components of the ARS include Ascential's DataStage, used to consolidate information from existing UICI sources; ProfileStage, to analyze legacy systems and profile source data; and QualityStage to cleanse, match and duplicate incoming data, Doucette says. Analytical processing capability will be supplied by a suite of Cognos tools, including Impromptu and UpFront.
Having enjoyed great success in the collegiate market, UICI Student Insurance sees ARS as a timely support to the pursuit of business in the short-term medical and youth market, according to Doucette. "Where we see ourselves leaping forward with this implementation is in not only being able to better manage risk, but also to extend our business," he comments. "By better understanding our data, we can improve our support not only of the underwriting or actuarial areas, but on the top line"our sales and marketing organizations can leverage this data to attract business."
The implementation flows out of a technology overhaul undertaken during 2003, Doucette recounts. "Essentially, this warehouse implementation enables us to lay the foundation for a new technology, transitioning from existing technology," he says. "It is an enabler to move to new technologies, serving as a foundation as we add new claims systems, new imaging, and other pieces to enable our business."
UICI looked for a best-of-breed solution so it could tailor the final application to the mid-sized carrier's needs. "We had to bite off what we could chew, so the selection of the product was critical," Doucette comments. "Also, the business community here is steeped in tradition, so for us to migrate from a 'Let's run a paper reports mentality' to suddenly the data and functionality being on your desktop, is a big cultural shift for us."
After a vendor vetting process at the end of 2002, UICI signed contracts in the first quarter of 2003. The carrier worked with its integration partner, Idea Integration Corp. (Jacksonville, FL), on design, implementation and quality through the second quarter. The ARS rolled out on-time and on-budget in July. "It was a very rapid rollout, and one of the biggest reasons for our success was our iterative approach," Doucette asserts.
"We're now using that iterative approach to get more and more of our businesses connected. At our recent annual sales meeting we launched the ARS product to the sales force," Doucette relates. "While we originally looked at this as a back-office operational tool, now we're saying 'Wait: this is a wonderful vehicle for our sales and marketing organization to drive more revenue into the organization.'"
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