Last year was viewed as a coming out party for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI)-related investments in the insurance industry. A larger coalition of carriers made a commitment in 2001 to identify the role that EAI-and within it XML-plays within the context of their operations.Financial services firms spent more than $4 billion on EAI-related hardware, software or other services in 2001, and this year projections are they will spend almost $6 billion. By 2006, EAI expenditures will reach upwards of $12 billion, reports Newton, Mass.-based Meridien Research Inc.

"The advent of the Internet combined with the tendency of most financial services to engage in operational belt-tightening and budget scrutiny placed pressure on them to identify areas that offer more immediate and assured return on investment," Sarah Ablett, research analyst for Meridien, says.

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