When it employees at Cincinnati-based Great American Insurance Co. got wind late last year that their new CIO would be Piyush Sing, former CIO of the Peoria, Ill., multi-line P&C carrier RLI Systems, they probably took a deep breath-rightly assuming that big changes would be coming in how the company uses technology to conduct its specialty commercial lines business. Sing's reputation for building front-end technology to match his previous company's unique requirements (RLI's motto was to provide "Fundamentally Sound Innovation" to the insurance industry) preceded him.As expected, Sing came to Great American Insurance with a similar plan, and a vision to overhaul the 130-year-old company's front-end applications for insurance processing with a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web services approach. Especially critical to Sing's vision: the ability to manage the appointments, interactions and state-by-state compliance requirements of a U.S. distribution network comprised of 8,000 active agents.

Managing agent appointments and associated regulatory reporting is a challenge for any carrier, but especially so for Great American Insurance, which seeks to garner and maintain robust business relationships with independent agents who sell the company's specialty property and transportation lines, specialty casualty lines and specialty financial products.

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