AXA Seguros, part of AXA Group, is an insurance company that strives to deliver superior customer service, which is critical for success in this industry. The company is replacing an inefficient, manual, claims-management system with one based on the Windows Azure platform. AXA Seguros experienced simplified development and deployment, was able to focus its efforts on business logic rather than technology, and avoided capital expenses.Business Needs
AXA Seguros in Mexico is part of the AXA Group, which offers insurance solutions to consumers and businesses worldwide. The company strives to be a leader in its industry, providing financial protection through a wide range of products and services that meet customers’ insurance protection, savings, retirement, and financial planning needs.
The AXA Group recognizes that a key ingredient to attaining success in the competitive insurance industry, in addition to a strong portfolio of insurance products, is superior customer service. Companies must offer a way for customers to express concerns, and also deliver speedy resolution to customers’ claims. So, in addition to providing a toll-free customer service telephone line, AXA Seguros has offered a basic web form through which agents could submit customer claims directly to the company through the Internet. Employees at the company manually entered the information from the forms into a claims-management system for eventual resolution. Unfortunately, the aging system was siloed from other systems, which resulted in inefficient resolution of insurance claims.
Furthermore, the claims-management system that AXA Seguros used lacked development flexibility and could not easily be adapted to meet changing business needs. In addition, because the system was obsolete, it required extensive maintenance and support, which was costly.
AXA Seguros wanted a new claims-management system that did not rely on manual processes or infrastructure destined for obsolescence, but instead had the flexibility and scalability to grow with the business. At the same time, the insurance company did not want to make costly financial investments or go through the time-consuming process of procuring new infrastructure hardware—which, in this case, could take months and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Solution
AXA Seguros decided to implement the Windows Azure platform in a pilot deployment for a new claims-management system. Windows Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting, and service management environment for the Windows Azure platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web applications on the Internet through Microsoft data centers. When it came to choosing a cloud services provider, AXA Seguros chose the Windows Azure platform because it is a comprehensive solution. “With other cloud providers, you only get part of the solution, but with Windows Azure, you get the entire infrastructure,” explains Juan Carlos Robles Navarro, Senior Software Engineer at AXA Seguros.
||[By Using Windows Azure], our developers were able to focus on business logic. This added tremendous value to the final product.
||Juan Carlos Robles Navarro
Senior Software Engineer, AXA Seguros
Working with Microsoft Gold Certified Partner EMLink, AXA Seguros was able to quickly develop its new claims-management system. Two developers from the insurance company worked full-time assisting EMLink, and, despite the fact that their expertise lies in Java development and they had no prior experience with the Microsoft .NET Framework or the C# programming language, they developed the solution in less than two months.
The new claims-management system uses Windows Azure for compute processing and Microsoft SQL Azure for its relational database needs, including storing customer information and claim-resolution details. “Migrating our on-premises data to SQL Azure was a transparent process that required little training,” says Navarro. The cloud-based solution has custom workflows that route claims to the appropriate department for resolution and then back to the agent, and alerts that notify employees when action needs to be taken on a customer’s behalf. The solution also takes advantage of Microsoft ASP.NET model-view-controller patterns to simplify maintenance and improve interoperability with back-end services.
After successfully proving the cloud-based solution in a pilot deployment, AXA Seguros plans to roll out the solution to its customers in June 2010. Benefits
Still early in its Windows Azure deployment, AXA Seguros is confident that cloud services from Microsoft are a solid bet for its claims-management system, as well as future solutions that help improve the company’s position as a service leader. By using the Windows Azure platform, AXA Seguros simplified development and deployment, was able to focus on business logic, and reduced its capital expenditures.
Simplifies Development and Deployment
Though AXA Seguros was initially hesitant to adopt technology with which it was not familiar, it took only two weeks for developers to learn it—significantly less than what the company anticipated—and quickly develop the cloud-based claims-management solution. Including the planning, development, and deployment, AXA Seguros implemented its solution in only 8 weeks, compared to between 18 and 30 weeks with an on-premises solution. “It’s amazing that you can reduce deployment time by more than half as a result of always having available the necessary infrastructure from Microsoft,” says Sandra Lopez, IT Director at AXA Seguros.
Improves Ability to Focus on Business Logic
Because the learning curve for developing on the platform was short, developers were able to focus on the business logic of the application, such as routing claims to the correct department, instead of the technology. “Instead of worrying about learning a new technology, our developers were able to focus on business logic,” explains Navarro. “This added tremendous value to the final product, which lets us resolve claims expeditiously and meet our business goals.”
Avoids Capital Expenditures
By using Windows Azure, AXA Seguros built a highly scalable application without having to invest in costly infrastructure—avoiding a one-time hardware investment of almost U.S.$10,000. At the same time, the company takes advantage of the platform’s pay-as-you-go model. On average, AXA Seguros estimates it will spend $97 each month with Windows Azure—a 65 percent savings over three years. The company can also continue to rely on cloud services for other applications, further compounding the low total cost of ownership.
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