Insurance Quote Web Application Software - DOC by reb13440


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									                                             Online Insurance Company Claims the Mobile
                                             Space with New Service Delivery Strategy

Overview                                     ―Software-plus-services is about offering customers
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Insurance                          a choice on how to use your products. Moving to
Customer Profile
                                             mobile devices, we are making good on our
In San Francisco, California, Esurance       anywhere, anytime value proposition.‖
pioneered the online auto insurance
business. Now, it is one of the main         Deepak Srinivasan, Director, Systems Engineering, Esurance
consumer brands for online auto
insurance in the United States.              Esurance has been offering auto insurance policies online since
Business Situation                           1999. Today, the majority of its customers purchase their policies
Esurance wanted to expand its service        from the company’s user-friendly Web site. Many of those
delivery options and deliver its Web-
based products to mobile devices,            customers carry mobile devices, so Esurance decided to migrate
offering customers the option of             some of its applications to run in the mobile environment. The
consuming other integrated services.
                                             company chose the software-plus-services strategy to offer
Solution                                     this new option for using its products. In just six weeks, Esurance
Esurance chose the software-plus-
services approach to offer its products in   used the Microsoft® NET Framework 3.5 to migrate its appli-
the mobile environment. It used the          cations to the Windows Mobile® 6.1 operating system. It also
Microsoft® .NET Framework to integrate
and deliver services on mobile devices.      integrated two services: a text-messaging gateway and
                                             AutoWatch, which customers use to view photos of their car
 Reduce time-to-market                      being repaired at an auto body shop. Esurance is poised to
 Enhance customer experience                capture the mobile market with more claims-related features
 Reduce operating costs
 Drive a competitive advantage              than the competition and expects to boost customer retention,
                                             cut costs, and drive revenue.
―The bottom line is this:          Situation                                       Expanding to a New Platform
                                   It was 1999 when Esurance launched its first    ―We define ourselves in terms of the
The more ways we                   online auto insurance product at the height     convenience of real-time, on-demand
                                   of the dot-com era. Today, it is one of the     customer service,‖ says Deepak Srinivasan,
can do business with               most well-known consumer brands in the          Director of Systems Engineering at

our customers, the                 highly competitive online auto insurance
                                   category. Esurance now offers auto
                                                                                   Esurance. ―Part of that is offering customers
                                                                                   a choice about how and when they access
more likely we are to              insurance to nearly 90 percent of the U.S.      our products—anywhere they have an
                                   population in 30 states.                        Internet connection or a phone, for
attract and to keep                                                                example. We wanted to expand that service

them. With software-               The company also offers homeowners,
                                   renters, health, life, and motorcycle
                                                                                   flexibility and build on Esurance’s strong
                                                                                   online presence by establishing our brand
plus-services, we’re               insurance policies over the Internet. Given     on the mobile platform.‖
                                   the company’s electronic business model,
better satisfying our              it’s not surprising that Esurance is            Esurance had other reasons for opening up

customers.‖                        committed to ―green,‖ or environmentally
                                   friendly, initiatives. The company saves
                                                                                   a new service delivery channel. The com-
                                                                                   pany’s Web site had generated a dedicated
Paul Sykes, Development Manager,   millions of sheets of paper each year by        fan base of computer-savvy customers
Esurance                           offering online policy documents and com-       most of whom carry mobile devices. ―We
                                   municating with policyholders by e-mail, in     have seen the rise of mobile devices used
                                   addition to virtually paperless back-end        to access the Internet. We want to be
                                   processes, such as claims management.           available to our customers however they
                                                                                   want to reach us,‖ says Paul Sykes,
                                   Esurance is well known for its affordable       Development Manager at Esurance. ―In
                                   rates, but it’s the convenience of its online   addition to customer benefits, providing
                                   services that really sets the company apart.    more ways to access our self-service
                                   Esurance built its reputation around its        features helps reduce operating costs. We
                                   user-friendly Web site, which offers            can pass those savings on to our
                                   customers a straightforward method of           customers.‖
                                   buying and managing insurance, along with
                                   simplified claims reporting. Though the vast    Esurance reasoned that some of its
                                   majority of Esurance customers purchase         applications—auto claims, for example—
                                   and manage their policies online,               were eminently suited to the mobile
                                   customers can also phone one of the             platform. IT management began thinking
                                   company’s customer service repre-               about ways of including third-party services
                                   sentatives (CSRs) 24 hours a day, seven         that might also be pertinent to a cus-
                                   days a week. Customers with existing            tomer’s experience while on the road.
                                   policies can use the company’s interactive      ―We wanted to empower our customers by
                                   voice response (IVR) system to pay bills,       offering a choice of integrated services that
                                   update accounts, and retrieve summary           add up to a helpful, user-friendly Esurance
                                   information. Esurance hosts its policy data     mobile experience,‖ says Srinivasan.
                                   as well as its proprietary Web applications
                                   for customers and CSRs at two data              Looking for the Right Strategy
                                   centers: one in San Francisco, California,      Esurance needed to find a way to quickly
                                   and one in Las Vegas, Nevada.                   migrate its Web-based applications to a
                                                                                   mobile platform and to integrate third-
                                                                                   party services that would add value. And it
                                                                                                                 of its Web applications to the mobile
                                                                                                                 environment. First, it will introduce claims-
                                                                                                                 related functionality, and then, in a later
                                                                                                                 stage, it will deploy quote, policy
  Customer PC        CSR PC             Telephone                                Windows Mobile 6.1
                                                                                                                 management, and billing services. This
                                                                                                                 approach maps to the evolving Esurance
     HTTP               HTTP               Voice                                                                 business model: to build, deploy, and
                                                                                                                 manage solutions that span the Web, the
                                                                  HTTPS API                      Web Service

                                                                                                                 PC, the phone, and the mobile device. (See
                                                                                                                 Figure 1.)
                                                                    HTTPS              HTTP       HTTP


                                                                                                                 ―We wanted to be there with a solution for
                                                                                                                 our customers who are moving to mobile
Esurance Customer
     Web Site
                    Esurance CSR
                      Web Site
                                        Esurance IVR
                                        Web Service
                                                            Esurance Messaging
                                                                                     Esurance Mobile
                                                                                        Web Site                 access of the Web,‖ says Srinivasan. ―The
                                                                                                                 software-plus-services approach is perfect
                                                                                                                 for Esurance on the mobile platform
                        Esurance Policy Management Web Service
                                                                                                Esurance Claim
                                                                                                 Web Service     because it underscores the message we
                                                                                                                 want to send to customers: Here’s another
                                                                                                                 convenient way for you to access our
                                                                                                                 services. And based on our previous
Figure 1. Esurance is using the                           needed to do so ahead of its competitors.              success, we wanted to use the latest
software-plus-services strategy                           Fortunately, over the years, the IT depart-            Microsoft technologies to get to market
                                                          ment had evolved a robust, service-                    with our mobile platform as quickly as
to deliver its online insurance
                                                          oriented architecture (SOA) upon which to              possible.‖
policy products and third-party
services to mobile devices.                               develop its Microsoft® .NET–connected
                                                          Web applications.                                      Rapid Development Environment
                                                                                                                 Esurance is using the Microsoft .NET
                                                          ―From the beginning, we needed a platform              Framework version 3.5 and Microsoft Visual
                                                          that would allow us flexibility in system              Studio® Team System 2008 Team Suite,
                                                          design and we have achieved success                    including Visual Studio Team System 2008
                                                          working with the .NET programming                      Team Foundation Server, to develop its
                                                          model,‖ recalls Sykes. ―It allows for modular          applications to run on the Windows
                                                          development so that we can build                       Mobile® 6.1 operating system. The
                                                          applications in parallel and reduce time-to-           company is also taking advantage of the
                                                          market. We wanted to take advantage of                 ASP.NET Mobile Controls that is tightly
                                                          the infrastructure that we had put together,           integrated into the Visual Studio design
                                                          and bring in an additional Web service and             environment to quickly build new Esurance
                                                          a third-party text-messaging service to                mobile Web applications.
                                                          deliver additional capabilities on the mobile
                                                          platform. So we began looking for the right            ―With Visual Studio 2008, the ease with
                                                          technologies and the right software                    which we can develop Web services is
                                                          delivery approach to execute on our ideas.‖            unbeatable,‖ says Sykes. ―It’s the most
                                                                                                                 complete development environment
                                                          Solution                                               available in the market. The debugging
                                                          Esurance turned to the software-plus-                  tools and the emulator saved time. We
                                                          services delivery strategy to introduce two            used the emulator to complete develop-
                                                                                                                 ment and integration testing without
                                   having to wait for the network infra-             managing these services across a cluster, so
                                   structure to support device testing. This         we’ll be able to reduce the amount of
                                   shaved several weeks off the integration          hardware we use. This also supports our
                                   test cycle.‖                                      company’s environmental commitment.‖

                                   So by taking advantage of its existing SOA        Because insurance companies generate a
                                   development environment and its experi-           lot of temporal data, the new date and time
                                   ence building Web applications, Esurance          data types in SQL Server 2008 make that
                                   quickly migrated its claims Web appli-            data management software ideal for
                                   cations to the mobile environment. (See           Esurance. And the company can take
                                   Figure 2.)                                        advantage of built-in compression, which
                                                                                     allows database administrators to compress
                                   Then it chose two external services from          the database and transaction log files for a
                                   vendors to augment the mobile solution.           scalable database solution. ―SQL Server
                                   ―The services we are incorporating are text       2008 has the temporal data types and
                                   messaging and AutoWatch,‖ explains Sykes.         scalability we need,‖ says Sykes. ―It also has
                                   ―We are integrating with an SMS text-             great service broker functionality, which
                                   messaging gateway so we’ll be able to             maps exactly to our business model.
                                   provide customers with information on             Esurance systems are set up as loosely
                                   their mobile devices. And AutoWatch is a          coupled services connected by Web
                                   service that customers use to view photos         services, and the service broker will
Figure 2. Now Esurance             of their car as it is being repaired in an auto   enhance the interface between our policy-
customers can access the same      body shop. That functionality is a Web            management and policy-accounting
user-friendly claims application   service, so customers can see how the             applications.‖
available on the Web with true     repair is progressing with photos displayed
anytime, anywhere convenience.     directly on our interface, regardless of          Esurance plans to add rich interactivity to
                                   which device they’re using to access it.‖         its policy-management and claims appli-
                                                                                     cations available on a mobile device, as well
                                   A Platform for the Future                         as to its Web-based applications in use by
                                   Esurance has been working with Microsoft          CSRs and customers at their computers. For
                                   to test its new mobile applications on the        these reasons, it is participating in the beta
                                   Windows Server® 2008 operating system             program for the Microsoft Silverlight™
                                   and Microsoft SQL Server® 2008 data               Mobile software. ―Silverlight is a great fit for
                                   management software because the                   us because we don’t have to change our
                                   company is planning to upgrade to this            deployment model to offer an even richer,
                                   back-end environment. It is interested in         more interactive interface to our cus-
                                   the high-performance computing (HPC)              tomers,‖ says Sykes.
                                   capabilities of Windows® HPC Server 2008,
                                   which runs on x64-based hardware.                 Benefits
                                                                                     Using the software-plus-services strategy,
                                   ―During this entire project, our Microsoft        Esurance has added to its already strong
                                   representative provided us with resources         strategic advantage—offering expedient
                                   and motivated us to look at different ways        online insurance services—and raised the
                                   of using Microsoft technologies,‖ says            level of quick, convenient service even
                                   Sykes. ―We are evaluating HPC for our             higher. ―Software-plus-services is about
                                   actuarial models and our online-processing        offering customers a choice on how to use
                                   applications. HPC offers a great way of           your products. Moving to mobile devices,
―The Visual Studio 2008            we are making good on our anywhere,
                                   anytime value proposition,‖ says Srinivasan.
                                                                                   such as text messaging and AutoWatch add
                                                                                   to the quality of a customer’s experience, as
environment targeting                                                              information is vital to a customer’s peace of
                                   Esurance is already benefiting from a fast      mind during a claim experience.
Windows Mobile 6.1                 time-to-market, and when the services are

allowed us to build a              deployed to the mobile platform in the
                                   second quarter of 2009, it expects to im-
                                                                                   ―Continually innovating our claims service is
                                                                                   an important way to keep customers happy
mobile application rich            prove customer retention, reduce operating      and also, to attract new customers through
                                   costs, and stimulate long-term business.        positive word-of-mouth,‖ says Sykes. ―In
in claims functionality                                                            today’s day and age, it’s not enough to be

in just six weeks.‖                Reduce Time-to-Market
                                   In a very short period of time, Esurance
                                                                                   there for customers in one channel only, or
                                                                                   to adopt a new channel after consumer
                                   migrated two Web applications to a new          behavior has changed. You have to
                                   platform and added two new Web services         anticipate how your customers will be
Paul Sykes, Development Manager,
Esurance                           to handle AutoWatch and text messaging.         interacting with you in the future, and be
                                   ―The Visual Studio 2008 environment             there for them when they are.‖
                                   targeting Windows Mobile 6.1 allowed us
                                   to build a mobile application rich in claims    Reduce Operating Costs
                                   functionality in just six weeks,‖ says Sykes.   Delivering insurance services on a mobile
                                   ―The advantage for us is that it’s straight-    device adds another venue through which
                                   forward to take the functionality that we       Esurance customers can take advantage of
                                   are already exposing through the Web site,      the self-service business model. Every
                                   repackage it, and make it available through     customer who can quickly and efficiently
                                   the mobile device.‖                             answer his or her own question or manage
                                                                                   a policy without having to call the service
                                   With its agile development environment          center is a more satisfied customer. In
                                   and SOA architecture already in place,          addition to improved customer satisfaction
                                   Esurance can enjoy the same advantage           with self-service features, fewer calls also
                                   when making any future enhancements to          translate to lower operating costs. These
                                   the new platform. As a result, Esurance can     savings can be passed on to customers in
                                   keep one step ahead in meeting market           the form of lower auto insurance rates.
                                   demands and offering new services.
                                                                                   ―By providing customers a way to get
                                   Enhance Customer Experience                     information whenever they want through
                                   In the insurance industry, there is a           their mobile device, we’re removing an
                                   relatively high cost to acquiring a customer,   extra step or two in the claims process for
                                   so keeping that customer is an important        our customers,‖ says Sykes. ―In addition to
                                   factor in long-term profitability. Esurance’s   a convenient experience for our customers,
                                   new mobile platform opens up new                we anticipate an appreciable reduction in
                                   opportunities to drive loyalty by serving its   calls over the next 12 months.‖
                                   customers even more immediately at
                                   potentially stressful times. For example, the   Drive a Competitive Advantage to
                                   mobile platform will make it possible for       Stimulate Business
                                   customers to get an insurance quote while       In the long run, Esurance is expecting to
                                   negotiating for a new car, or even initiate     stimulate business by offering a new set of
                                   the claims process at the roadside after a      rich services on the mobile device platform.
                                   fender-bender. The Internet-based services      As the company evaluates how customers
For More Information                                  are attracted to the mobile platform, it can    Software + Services
For more information about Microsoft                  extend the functionality that’s pertinent for   Software-plus-services is an industry shift
products and services, call the Microsoft             the mobile environment and drive its com-       driven by the fast-growing recognition that
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                petitive advantage. The company is already      combining Internet services with client and
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                   experimenting with Silverlight to enrich the    server software can deliver exciting new
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-               user experience, and it’s looking at adding     opportunities. Microsoft is dedicated to
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-                 other Internet-based services—for example       helping individuals and businesses take
of-hearing can reach Microsoft text                   a GPS service that customers can use to         advantage of these opportunities. By bring-
telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800)                 locate the nearest towing service.              ing together the best of both software and
892-5234 in the United States or (905)                                                                services, we maximize capabilities, choice,
568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50                    ―The bottom line is this: The more ways we      and flexibility for our customers. The broad
United States and Canada, please contact              can do business with our customers, the         software-plus-services approach unites
your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access            more likely we are to attract and to keep       multiple industry phenomena including
information using the World Wide Web,                 them,‖ Sykes. ―With software-plus-services,     software as a service, service-oriented
go to:                                                we’re better satisfying our customers. As       development, and the Web 2.0 user                                     people get more comfortable using their         experience under a common umbrella.
                                                      mobile device for Internet usage, Esurance
For more information about Esurance                   will already have a presence on that            For more information about software-plus-
products and services, visit the Web                  platform. That’s a great position to be in.‖    services, go to:
site at:                                                                                    

                                                       Software and Services                    Windows Mobile 6.1
                                                        Microsoft Visual Studio                Technologies
                                                         − Microsoft Visual Studio Team System   − Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5
                                                           2008 Team Suite                       − Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
                                                        Microsoft Silverlight                  Solutions
                                                        Microsoft Server Product Portfolio      − Software-plus-Services
                                                         − Windows Server 2008
                                                         − Microsoft SQL Server 2008

This case study is for informational purposes only.

Document published April 2009

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