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Early Web Access to Insurance Company Data

Project Snapshot

Project year: 2001
Unix servers: SCO Open Server 5.5
Database: C-ISAM
Windows clients: Windows 95
User count: 1500
Project budget: $75,000
Client condition: We'll try this if there are no additional software purchases required

Business Objective: Legacy Data Access

This regional insurance company provided P&C, Life and Health products through its large 1,500-user agency network. Traditionally agents were given printed reports to manage renewals, evaluate current coverage levels and implement cross-selling.

What was most interesting is that the agents' databases actually contained more relevant data than the reports that they were given to use. Only one problem --- there was no way for the agents to access and use the same data that they were diligently collecting.

Strategy and Solution

Quest Technology Group considered the investment this client had in its legacy applications, its existing network infrastructure and the client's strategic business objectives. A web-based approach offered both an immediate value-added solution and set the stage for a long-term migration strategy.

Quest knew that this web-based evolution would need to be a gradual process. There were budgetary considerations that limited the scope of the initial deliverable. This was 2001. The web technology was relatively new and introduced a very different approach to delivering information.

To introduce web applications to a primarily character-based user community, Quest Technology Group created custom modules in its AgencyPlace™ insurance application.

The most immediate need was to provide agents with access to legacy C-ISAM data residing on their local Unix servers. Where the agents had previously relied on mainframe-produced reports with out of date information, AgencyPlace™ made real-time data access possible.

An automated Apache web server install package was created and deployed to all 300 remote agency servers. Using a combination of standard Unix tools, a data access product suite was created by Quest that provided for fast and accurate data access.

For the first time, agency data was presented to the agent in a browser. In addition, a series of desktop icons was provided for the agents to seamlessly create mail merge labels and marketing letters with the report information. The agents enjoyed the benefits of the Windows tools on the desktop with a customized user interface. The learning time was all but eliminated, and the agents were quickly able to manage and grow their books of business.

The agent was in control of the information that made customer and policy management a reality.

In response to the budgetary limitations, Quest was able to implement this web-based data management module without any additional software acquisition costs to the client. Today that is all but a given but in 2001 this was a big step forward in bringing real-time data to the end user.

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