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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

Service Reuse Drives SOA at Insurers such as Cigna and AFLAC

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A couple of weeks back, we talked about MassMutual's SOA implementation, reported on by John Webster in Computerworld. Webster also documented how another insurer, Cigna Corp., was able to achieve reuse of applications and data as it built out its service oriented architecture. 

The insurer applied SOA to enterprise-wide systems such as call centers and customer relationship management software. Services and data are shared and reused between business units. "We built out the existing hardware and software infrastructure, and now there are pieces of SOA in nearly every mission-critical application," Stephen Bergeron, senior director of architecture at Cigna, is quoted in the article.

The insurance sector is a particularly good area for service orientation, since much of the industry relies on huge legacy systems, and the greatest challenge is automating paperwork-intensive workflows. And companies report efficiency, thanks to the ability to write code once for use across the enterprise.

Much of the success seen in this industry comes from service reuse.As Gerald Shields, CIO of AFLAC, told me a couple of years ago: "The key to success in SOA is not the number of services that you have; it's how often your services are shared." At AFLAC, SOA-based services are enabling the company to get to market quicker with new offerings, such as the company's Web-based self-service system. "We built that much quicker due to previous work that was done in 2006 and 2005," Shields says. "For our new system offering policyholder self-service functionality, 30% of that code had been laid in services that we simply reused."

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more


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