Orlando, Fla. – More than 2,300 attendees gathered in Orlando this week for the ACORD/LOMA 2007 Forum. Since the two organizations presented its first joint forum four years ago, the insurance industry has moved at a faster clip, with technologies such as Service Oriented Architecture, business process management and straight-though processing taking center stage. The show's theme, "Identify, Innovate, Inspire," was evident throughout the conference, highlighted by topics presented in more than 80 sessions over the three-day conference.  Outside of session time, traffic was brisk in the exhibit hall, where more than 180 solution providers demonstrated their wares.  Greg Maciag, CEO of ACORD, told members of the insurance industry's official standards body that it has never been more critical to get everyone onboard as to the value standards play in the industry's success.  "True competitive advantage is available to those who break down silos and barriers in order to enjoy the cost and time savings inherent in standards' use," he said. During the conference, LOMA, which claims 1,200 members in the life, health and other financial services sectors, launched its Corporate Learning Solutions Practice, a program designed to provide members with updates on solutions such as online courses and certificate programs specifically geared toward their professional needs. On Monday, May 21, Insurance Networking News, a SourceMedia Company, and Financial Insights (an IDC Company) released the results of the 2007 InsureTopTech awards to a standing-room only crowd outside the exhibit hall. As an official ranking of top solution providers based on an industry-wide poll of insurers, InsureTopTech is being called the "voice of the market." Several in attendance remarked that it seemed by design that the InsureTopTech awards followed the "Identify, Innovate, Inspire" theme of the conference.  During her opening remarks, Insurance Networking News' editor in chief Pat Speer explained the significance of the awards. "The fact is, in a world in which the technology vendor community is shifting and contracting, insurers do have options, and they can use this vendor ranking to make well-informed buying decisions. Our readers who voted in this important program extended their voices in a chorus, making it possible for insurers to do just that." The overall winner, Guidewire, San Mateo, Calif., took home awards in five categories (see below for all categories and related winners). Most Adds Value1. Guidewire2. Sircon3. Hyland Software Up-and-Coming 1. Guidewire2. Hyland Software3. CSC Keep the Business Operating1. Guidewire2. CSC3. IBM Keep Insurer Informed Through Analytics1. Business Objects, Cognos (tied)2. IBM3. SAS Help Maintain Financials1. Peoplesoft (Oracle)2. Fiserv3. CSC Help Develop / Enhance Products1. Hyland Software2. Guidewire3. IBM Help Provide Quality Customer Care1. Guidewire2. Hyland Software3. AT&T, Avaya, Sircon (tied) Optimize Workflow and BPM1. Hyland Software2. IBM, ImageRight (tied)3. Ravello Other Areas (middleware, system integration, outsourcing, hardware)1. IBM2. HP3. Oracle, Dell (tied) The Identify, Innovate, Inspire, theme was also prominent during the Tuesday, May 22 CIO Roundtable general session, moderated by Maciag, who was joined on the stage by Ann Purr, LOMA's second vice president, information management; Saad Ayub, chief information officer for sales and service applications at The Hartford; Jeff Carlson, senior vice president, CIO for the Domestic Life Companies of AIG; Paul Fox, CIO, Guy Carpenter; and Ursuline Foley, senior vice president and CIO, XL Reinsurance.  Maciag presented a number of challenging questions to the group, but received the most passionate responses to the question: do vendors understand our business, or do carriers need to do a better job of explaining their requirements to them? "They are getting better," said Carlson. "The days of us looking at a monolithic application are over. We are in a component world now and vendors recognize this." Foley maintained that vendors face a dilemma, especially in the life insurance area. "They are tight with our users' groups," she said. "They need to respond to users on a day to day basis but also look at taking the platform further. To a large degree, [vendors] are losing an opportunity. They need to provide more service oriented architecture components for the future." For more information about the ACORD/LOMA 2007 Forum, please visit www.acord.org.  Sources: ACORD, INN

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