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Simplifying Your Customer-Facing Application Environment with Business Transaction Management (BTM)

BTM solutions can provide an excellent way to dramatically simplify IT management while improving application performance and availability.

By Linh Ho, Director, Product Marketing, OpTier

Insurance IT managers have a bigger challenge than their counterparts in many other industries. They must interact with a wide variety of applications and services from other verticals, including healthcare, government, finance, transportation and telecommunications. In addition, many insurance carriers are now moving their operations online, to reach more potential customers and improve service to their existing client base. New applications are enabling policy holders to access personal account and billing information, submit claims, view quotes and purchase new policies easily over the Internet. But all of these components, partners, processes and new services are combining together to make managing IT in the insurance industry an extremely challenging and costly task.

Despite insurance carriers' efforts to streamline processes, such as providing online applications for their customers, glitches in the system remain. According to the results of a recent survey, four out of five Americans (83 percent) are likely to resolve any issues they experience in purchasing or processing an insurance claim online by reaching for the phone. Online customers looking to resolve claims and other issues via phone are an expensive proposition for insurance companies; it can prove costly in the form of lost customers or a customer service representative's time. The survey also found that young people (aged 18-34) are more likely than older consumers to have already purchased or plan to purchase or research health insurance online. As this segment of the population ages, it is possible insurers can expect more consumers turning to the web to compare and buy health insurance. With this increase in website traffic, along with the prospect of losing customers who are turning to the phone because of a poor online experience, insurance organizations need to invest in ways to avoid online outages, ensure high-quality customer service online and keep their customers happy.

The standard practice is to reach for an application performance monitoring (APM) solution, but is that enough?

APM solutions combine end-user experience monitoring tools (EUM) with infrastructure-specific diagnostic tools (deep dive tools). The end-user monitoring tools work continuously and trigger an alarm when performance falls below set levels. At that point, deep dive tools are invoked and start monitoring the data center. Sampling and correlation techniques are used to put all of this information together and display it on a dashboard for the IT manager to review and analyze. APM tools are an important part of the diagnostic and problem solving arsenal. They provide large amounts of very detailed information about specific infrastructure tiers. However, because of the large volumes of data, they typically do not run continuously in the production environment – instead, they are designed to help solve a problem once it has been detected. For the insurance IT manager whose customers are flocking to the website for real-time information, this isn't good enough.

A more in-depth, comprehensive and proactive approach to avoid customer dissatisfaction and keep the IT infrastructure flowing smoothly is Business Transaction Management (BTM).

BTM solutions can provide an excellent way to dramatically simplify IT management while improving application performance and availability. BTM enables real-time tracking of insurance and other end-user business transactions as they flow across multiple applications and tiers, providing true end-to-end visibility, simplifying problem isolation, and increasing IT efficiency.

BTM enables IT management in the insurance industry to gain:

• Real-time visibility into actual business transactions and the user experience, such as "get quote" or "process claim." This helps IT immediately quantify the business impact, find the problem area, and fix the cause quickly to restore service.

• Access to historical data for reporting to auditors and compliance officers about critical insurance application performance.

• The ability to create baseline assessments to ensure application performance and end-user experience, both before and after any modernization projects or for change impact analyses.

• Automatic discovery of insurance's complex transactions, applications, and their supporting infrastructure. This improves efficiency and enables IT managers to understand how performance is impacting their businesses.

Furthermore, BTM can provide complete visibility into all insurance transactions and critical systems in real time, including:

• Claims processing

• Real-time quotations and illustrations

• Underwriting and rating

• Self-service portals (including on-line policy servicing)

• Actuarial services

• Contact center and CRM interfaces

• Medicare administration

• Carrier/agency interfaces

• Unit dealing

Using BTM, insurance companies around the world can meet all of these challenges to regain control of their IT environments and proactively manage service levels, resolve issues quickly, cut costs, and reduce product development lifecycles.

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