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BACKGROUND

Our client is a leading Auto insurance company in the West Coast. The client’s business includes marketing and selling insurance policy and processing claims for Auto insurance.

BUSINESS SITUATION

The client had an existing website to largely disseminate corporate information and to acquire prospects by gathering customer profile information. However, being a direct marketer of insurance services, the client’s main interface to the world was focusedheavily on its call centers through which it handled telemarketing, telesales, claims processing and customer service. The client’smain goal for growth wasto provide Internet access as a channel for delivery of its products and services besides call centers. The on-line value proposition focused on customer acquisition, providing the easiest way to get auto/home/personal insurance at a low pricewith a simple website, and a seamless on-line/off-line experience. This required automating and strengthening the client’s current web functionality, and creating a customer relationship management (CRM) system to ensure coordination between the Internet and call center customer transactions.This wouldalso have a dual benefit of extending access to all of itsservices and simultaneously reducingthe load on its internal service staff.

As this would be a major infrastructure undertaking the client also wanted to make sure the overall architecture would be scalable in the following aspects:

  • Ease of introducing new delivery channels (online, mobile, etc.) and products without major changes to the design
  • Flexibility to support changes in business processes and organizational structure
  • Ease of entering into new geographical locations without incurring major costs in IT infrastructure
  • Facility to measure customer and product profitability for a specific delivery channel and geographical area
  • Architecture to support modifications in existing products, services and delivery channels with minimal impact on the overall system
  • Architecture toadd new applications easily

APPROACH

Xoriant was chosen due to its extensive system integration experience with middleware products such as TIBCO and expertise in online web technologies & transaction processing systems. In addition, Xoriant offered a flexible onsite and offshore global delivery model which provided tight account control as well as cost-effectiveness for the client.

As this was a big architectural change for the client, Xoriant did an extensive analysis to understand the client’s business and technical requirements. Business analysts from Xoriant initially worked with the client’s business team to obtain and define functional requirements. Once the functional requirements were frozen Xoriant’s technical team mapped these business requirements to technical architecture and feature set. Xoriant’s main task was to redesign the current architecture shown below to provide a scalable Internet access to add functionality with ease.

CURRENT ARCHITECTURE

The existing platform was a two-tier architecture as shown in the following picture:

The Presentation Layer was a combination of CGI scripts, Cold Fusion Markup Language (CFML) pages, Java Servlet and JavaScript.

  • Perl CGI scripts were used for Claims (FNOL) function
  • Cold Fusion/CFML provided the functionality for Corporate Information and Homeowners RFQ functions as well as for the Registration component of Policy Endorsement
  • CFML was also used as a framework throughout the system for page navigation, business logic/rules, and application workflow
  • Java Servlet was used as part of the Jacada technology, which provided most of the Policy Endorsement functions, including self-service billing
  • JavaScript was used to code some business rules The Backend Layer consisted of the following:
  • Claims (FNOL) Data in text files
  • Corporate Information consisted of job postings, press releases and value added advantage in SQL Server
  • Registration Data in SQL Server
  • Homeowners RFQ Data in SQL Server, including the Visual Basic FTP application
  • Endorsement Application on the IBM OS/390 mainframe

NEW ARCHITECTURE

The Presentation Layer now consisted only of Servlets and JSP. The J4HTML Servlet continued to exist but hosted on a WebSphere Application Server. The rest of the Internet system presentation layer was written in JSP. The new architecture does not have any Perl CGI scripts or CFML. The Perl CGI scripts for the Claims (FNOL) application was written in JSP. And all of the CFML pages for the Registration and Corporate Information functions were alsowritten in JSP as well as the CFML framework for page navigation and application workflow.

The Application Layer continued to make use of the Jacada Server and its related components. However, all other business logic currently in the Internet system were moved to Enterprise Java Bean (EJB) based services. EJBs are reusable components that could eventually host all business logic for the Internet application.

The Backend Layer continued to make use of the legacy Policy Endorsement application on the IBM mainframe. Oracle databases replaced SQL Servers for Corporate Information, Registration Data, Claims (FNOL) Data, and Homeowners RFQ Data.

In this newer design as seen above, Cold Fusion and SQL server werereplaced with Java based Websphere and Oracle Database respectively to overcome the following limitations:

  • One of the biggest limitations of the older architecture was the tie-in with Cold Fusion and CFML framework. Cold Fusion was not easy to learn, not well integrated into other third-party apps/servers, not well supported as other web technologies (JSP) and costed money in terms of license fees and expensive programming talent
  • The other limitation was using SQL server as the database. While it was much cheaper and simpler to administer than Oracle database and worked well for small sizes of data (few hundred gigabytes) it had serious performance degradations as the data size grew to terabyte ranges. Unlike SQL server, Oracle offered several performance tuning options to improve data storage and retrieval. Furthermore, in terms of scaling, SQL servers only scaled vertically (only adding memory and CPU to a single hardware) whereas Oracle databases scaled both vertically and horizontally (multiple servers)
  • Perl scripts were also replaced with easily readable object oriented JSP
  • Through this new architecture Xoriant delivered the following functionality for online accessrunning on a WebSphere platform keeping the current call center features intact:
  • Implemented aworkflow to capture auto driver and home owners information
  • Integrated policy content to display policy options and feature details
  • Personalized the web site for each individual policy owner
  • Developed a mechanism to allow real time quotes to prospects
  • Integrated with Payment gateways like CyberSource, Sure-
  • Pay, CyberCash to permit online commerce transactions for Taxation and Payments
  • Transferred information captured from website to the legacy system
  • Facilitated processing of claims – First notice of loss and follow-up actions
  • Developed policy amendment modules for activities like adding / removing a driver, changing coverage, adding options
  • In conjunction with e-marketing practices, facilitated up-sell and cross-sell of products and services at the personalized
    website and at the general pages
  • Developed a mechanism to transmit policy document over the web as a PDF file with personalized and custom information
  • Migrated existing registration, homeowner, and corporate content SQL Server databases to Oracle database
  • Migrated the claims flat file system to Oracle database

TECHNOLOGY

Xoriant used the following technologies in this project:

  • Windows NT, IBM Mainframe
  • Websphere middleware, Cold Fusion
  • JavaScript, JSP, Servlet, XML, HTML, CFML
  • JDBC, Oracle, SQL Server
  • Web browsers
  • SSL certificates

RESULTS

The enhanced application and technology architecture provided a foundation for supporting multiple distribution channels, enabled the client to offer features with a short time to market, improved customer service, enhanced business flexibility and reduced costs. More specifically the following are some of the important results of the project:

  • Modular distributed design such as decoupling of analysis systems (MIS/ Data warehouse) from operational systemsboosted scalability to add new applications and expand to new geographical locations easily
  • Streamlining the various interfaces between modules enabled a consistent, accurate, and complete access to data for MIS and statutory reporting
  • Replacing CFML with JSP framework allowed easy feature changes and addition of new applications in a time and cost effective manner
  • Replacing the old architecture (Cold Fusion, CFML, SQL Server, Perl) with commonly available and standards based software and interfaces (JSP, Java Websphere, Oracle), helped development and deployment of new applications quickly and efficiently at lower cost. In addition, maintaining the software was also inexpensive as there was anabundance of Java expertise in the market place
  • The new architecture enabled supporting existing applications such as Quotes, Claims Administration, Policy Processing, Product Management, Customer Management, Agents Management, Payments/Receivables and Billing, Salvage Tracking, Index Reporting, Vehicle Inspection, Special Investigation, Colossus etc. Furthermore adding new applications in the areas of Human Resources, Marketing and Financial Accounting became easy
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