DIRECT MARKETING TOOL ENHANCEDMelissa Data announced the addition of multi-platform capabilities to the Canadian Address Object, a complementary product to the Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. company's Data Quality Suite, a direct-marketing tool that verifies and corrects address, phone and contact data.

Mailers can use Canadian Address Object as an API in their custom batch and point-of-entry applications, or use the address verification Web service to instantly validate data entered into Web forms.

MANAGING COMPLEX DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

Versata released enhancements to its distribution channel management product. DCM 3.0, provides comprehensive support for electronic mass renewals and terminations and includes other communications and maintenance improvements.

The Versata Distribution Channel Management solution is an industry-specific distribution management and compensation product that enables insurance and brokerage companies to successfully manage complex distribution channels. The newest release includes comprehensive support for the electronic processing of appointment mass renewals, enabling companies to create producer records and file appointment requests automatically.

IMPROVED CONTROL OF CLAIMS OPERATION

Guidewire Software, Inc., San Mateo, Calif., released Guidewire ClaimCenter 4.0, the latest version of its claims system for P&C insurance carriers. ClaimCenter is a Web-based claims system designed to improve the end-to-end claims adjusting process, reduce claims costs and enhance customer service. ClaimCenter 4.0 further improves insurers' control over their core claim operation by enhancing rules-based automation of the claim process, expanding integration with preferred claims adjusting business partners and increasing visibility into key claims performance metrics.

STRATEGIC GOALS GUIDE IT SPENDING

Senior insurance IT executives are making strategic investments, but budgets and staff size are generally flat or growing only modestly.

Those were among the findings reported by Boston-based Celent LLC in a study called "Insurance CIO/CTO Pressures, Priorities, Projects and Plans for 2007 Survey Results."

Matthew Josefowicz, manager of Celent's insurance group and author of the report sees continued focus on meeting demand for speed to market and ease of doing business, and on projects involving core systems, data mastery and distribution.

Areas of significant new project spending vary by size and sector, but include initiatives in underwriting, claims, product development and data mastery, the report says. Common areas of significant new product spending include document handling, policy administration system replacement, ACORD XML adoption, agent portals and BPM.

GLOBAL COMPANY TO TAKE UP SLACK IN CAT INSURANCE

Ironshore Inc. reports raising more than $1 billion through a private placement of equity securities to begin underwriting specialty lines of insurance through a Bermuda-based insurance subsidiary, Ironshore Insurance Ltd.

The new global insurance company was created in response to conditions in the U.S. property catastrophe insurance markets that resulted from harsh recent hurricane seasons that made coverage capital intensive and costly, Ironshore says.

RESEARCHER: GLBA HAS LITTLE EFFECT

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) has not created significant synergies between commercial banking, investment banking, merchant banking and insurance activities, according to a finance researcher at the University of Arkansas. The law also has had little effect on bank profitability and productivity.

"Banking stakeholders expected big changes from the GLBA," says Tim Yeager, an associate professor of finance at the Fayetteville, Ark.-based university and the Arkansas Bankers Association chair at the university's Sam M. Walton College of Business. "But despite these high expectations, gains from combining commercial banking and other financial services are small or had already been exploited."

He discovered that after the act's passage, many banks became financial holding companies in name but had not significantly expanded into the newly permissible activities.

They still derived most of their earnings from traditional banking activities, such as loan making and deposit taking.

Yeager found only minor synergies among commercial banking, insurance activities and merchant banking.

TECH PREPAREDNESS CAN HELP TAME REGULATORY ISSUES

Carriers need to step up their technology preparedness to get ready for industry-altering regulatory issues, according to new research from TowerGroup.

The issues-a proposed national catastrophe fund, a possible extension of the Terrorist Risk Insurance Act and an optional federal charter-made headlines but went unresolved in 2006.

Any of the three could profoundly change the IT function in the insurance business, according to a TowerGroup research note titled, "2007 US Insurance Regulatory Agenda: Déjà vu All Over Again," by Karen Pauli, a senior analyst in the Insurance Practice at the Needham, Mass.-based TowerGroup consulting and research firm.

SAVANT MALWARE SOLUTION

In what the company claims is a new approach to preemptive malware spread mitigation and containment, Savant Protection introduced a hybrid solution that combines preemptive spread mitigation with on-demand viral scanning of code against online inoculation, vulnerability and knowledge databases. The product provides operational control of enterprise security in the battle against hacker intrusions, the company says. "The capability of immediate and on-demand friend or foe analysis makes absolute sense in providing a more complete systemic security solution," says Robin Bloor, a partner at Hurwitz & Associates and Founder of Bloor Research. "This feature will allow corporations to quickly identify and closely monitor patterns of viral attack attempts upon their systems. This insight will allow them to distinguish between random and focused attacks upon their infrastructure."

FRAMEWORK UNVEILED FOR GOVERNANCE, RISK AND COMPLIANCE

Reveleus, a provider of analytical applications with North American headquarters in New York, has introduced the Reveleus Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) framework. A comprehensive GRC framework solves two pressing risk and compliance challenges -"hidden costs" of multiple systems and the duplication of processes that are expensive to maintain and hinder the management of external and internal risk and compliance, says S. Ramakrishnan, CEO of Reveleus and Mantas. "Our solutions go beyond the 'now,' such as MiFID in the EU, NMS in the U.S. and Basel II globally, and work well into the future because we have the proven ability to help financial services clients adapt to both the internal and external drivers of change," Ramakrishnan says. Reveleus' Enterprise Risk Management & Compliance can be combined with Mantas' behavior detection platform to offer a framework to "future-proof" financial institutions, allowing them to address governance, risk and compliance through a single platform, the company says. According to Reveleus, a report from Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass., pegs the GRC software platform market at $590 million today, up from $85 million in 2002.

'COGNITIVE AUTHENTICATION' IDENTIFIES USERS BY BEHAVIOR

Cogneto Inc., headquartered in Seattle, professes to have a mission to combat online identity fraud. The company, founded by a team of security consultants, cognitive psychologists, network architects and specialists in human-computer interaction, is exploring a new branch of biometrics, which identifies people based on how they interact with computers. Cognitive Authentication can validate the identity of online customers because each person's recognition abilities, response times and personal experiences are unique.

"With the increasing threat of online fraud and identify theft, banks and other online organizations must take proactive steps to protect their customers by deploying strong authentication and security solutions," says Ralph Scobie, CEO of Cogneto.

EFFICIENT WORKERS COMP POSTERS CREATED VIA WEB

FergTech Inc., a software and services provider with headquarters in Darien, Conn., launched PostingNotice.com, a Web application designed to enable insurance professionals and businesses to produce state-required "Workers Compensation Notice to Employees" posters.

PostingNotice.com provides the ability to enter or import data about the policy, office locations and claims processing relationship to instantly produce data-complete, state-compliant posters.

According to the Darien, Conn., company, PostingNotice.com reduces the compliance burden, operational inefficiencies, and cost associated with producing and distributing notices and posters. FergTech keeps PostingNotice.com software up-to-date with changing regulations while users receive the most current version of a jurisdiction's notice/poster.

Access to PostingNotice.com can be granted to the employeror insured to streamline data-entry and distribution of posters. It can be integrated into an insurance company portal to provide a 24/7, on-demand, customer-service offering.

PANASONIC EMBEDDING ABSOLUTE'S COMPUTRACE

Secaucus, N.J.-based Panasonic Computer Solutions Co. brought BIOS-based security to the Toughbook notebook line by employing a firmware-based solution from Absolute Software Corp., Vancouver, British Columbia. Panasonic embedded BIOS support for Absolute's Computrace-enabled security solutions with the CF-19 and CF-30 notebooks and the CF-T5 business tablet. The CF-W5 and thin-and-light CF-Y5 business models, as well as the CF-74 notebook, were scheduled to begin shipping early 2007 with Computrace embedded. Additional models will follow. Panasonic will also resell Absolute Computrace Computer Theft Recovery, Data Protection and Secure Asset Tracking.

NEW VERSION OF SMART BPM INTRODUCED BY PEGASYSTEMS

Pegasystems Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., provider of process and rules technology, released the latest version of its SmartBPM Suite. Version 5.2 of SmartBPM Suite is designed to enable IT users to realize the benefits of business visualization, faster Adobe Flex-based Internet applications and improved scalability for large systems. The suite includes flex-based interactive business visualization, complex business decisioning support and developer productivity enhancements, including SOA integration testing, AJAX and flex automation.

MICROSOFT AND CONNECTURE TEAM UP FOR AUTOMATION

Atlanta-based Connecture Inc. teamed up with Microsoft to broaden the functionality of its InsureConnect product suite. Connecture will embed Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 into the product to enable health insurers to automate sales processes for speed to market, productivity and market share benefits.

The InsureConnect product suite includes multiple modules to make it possible for health plans to automate their sales and underwriting processes. These modules include quoting, rating, enrollment and installation, underwriting, policy administration and renewal.

LUCID MODELS SOFTWARE OFFERS NEW TOOL FOR VISUAL REQUIREMENTS

Lucid Models Software, Toronto, released a requirements development and analysis tool, called VR for visual requirements. The tool is intended for business analysts, systems analysts, designers, testers and anyone else who creates or uses specifications for software, user interfaces, system components, processes, dashboards or information sources. VR provides functionality to define use cases visually; build concept maps that organize business entities, data elements, fields, actions and roles, and serve as a backbone for requirements; build requirements as a set of linked diagrams that are easy to read and navigate; and present a product in multiple views, including use case view, user interface view, concept view and workflow view. Users can keep visible only the most appropriate aspects of requirements; create coherent intertwined structures with common elements, such as use cases, screen mockups and algorithms; and inquire about requirements and their content; and find requirements by name, concept and substring.

FORMS-CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY CONVERTS PAPER DOCUMENTS INTO ELECTRONIC FORMAT

The Insurance Automation Group, a subsidiary of Workgroup Technology Partners in Westbrook, Maine, is offering iAutomate: SmartForms, a forms-capture technology designed to help companies convert paper-based forms into computer-based documents. Users can type data directly into the document on their computers or integrate the form with any database to directly import information. The product is designed to be a standalone application that is Web-based. Users scan their forms and convert them to PDFs. They import the PDF into iAutomate: SmartForms, and can work with it on typewriters, in database mode or checkbox mode, the company says.

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