Mercator Software Extends EAI Solutions for Insurance with XML

  • Written By: M. Reed
  • Published On: April 21 2000



Mercator Software Extends EAI Solutions for Insurance with XML
M. Reed - April 21st, 2000

Event Summary

"Mercator Software (NASDAQ: MCTR), the e-business transformation company, announced new capabilities within its Mercator E-Business Integration Broker products that enable dramatic reductions in the time, cost and effort to integrate ACORD XML transactions with existing insurance applications. With new e-business data transformation support incorporating ACORD XML, customers will be able to accelerate the adoption of XML for business-to-business (B2B) exchange of insurance transactions, forms and documents. Combined with existing Mercator support for ACORD AL3 standards for EDI, these new capabilities allow customers to deploy a single software architecture for integration of both XML and EDI transactions based on ACORD standards without creating programs, regardless of application complexity."

"Mercator committed to ACORD standards two years ago and began capturing ACORD standards within its e-business integration products. ACORD standards make it easy for Mercator customers to conduct e-business with their partners," stated Fred Rella, director of member services, at ACORD. "As the driving organization for promoting interoperability within the insurance industry, we are very pleased that Mercator has extended its business-to-business capabilities to support ACORD XML. This adoption further enhances our members' ability to achieve seamless integration with partners."

"The emergence of the Internet and electronic marketplaces has dramatically changed the way business is conducted," said Dave Power, vice president of marketing at Mercator. "XML is at the center of these changes, yet most companies today still conduct significant business over private networks using EDI protocols. Our world-class data transformation support for both the ACORD AL3 standards and ACORD XML standards makes it easier for insurance companies to manage the transition to XML and Internet-based trading, without abandoning investments in existing information systems."

Note: ACORD is the focal point for standardizing insurance information and point-of-sale document requirements. Changing requirements that result from industry coverage enhancements, legislation, regulation, case law, consumer pressures, and insurance environment changes are channeled through ACORD by state insurance departments, a National Insurance law monitoring service, companies, and agents. ACORD evaluates all requirements and requests, relying on a broad network of industry experts, and makes the appropriate changes to ACORD Standards. The Standards that are affected include Forms, AL3 and ObjX.

Market Impact

Once again, an enterprise application integration vendor has realized the potential of vertical market focus. Since EAI applications require such a high level of customization, reducing the complexity by providing specific vertical applications which may actually function "out of the box" is a strong selling point. The addition of XML (the Extensible Markup Language) to the existing support for EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) makes this effort even easier.

Mercator already has a number of insurance customers, including Wausau Insurance and Nationwide Insurance, and will most likely be able to add to the list. According to the vendor, the products "capture the complete semantic descriptions of ACORD standard transactions in graphical form, including importing of ACORD data type definitions (DTDs), thereby allowing 100% transformation to any other format through a drag-and-drop interface, without writing programs or coding user exits." Given that Mercator has supported ACORD since 1998, this should give them additional strength in this particular vertical market.

User Recommendations

Customers evaluating enterprise application integration solutions for the insurance vertical should definitely include Mercator (a.k.a. TSI International Software) on a short list of vendors. Since EAI solutions require such a high level of customization (and related consulting fees), any vendor efforts to reduce this time and expense and supply a proven vertical solution should be closely investigated. Customers should exercise caution when considering a new product release, and if vendor consulting assistance is being considered, should investigate the possibility of a fixed-price contract.

 
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