One of the real promises of SOA is enabling companies to leverage existing legacy systems as a set of core, reusable Web service building blocks that can be assembled to create new processes and applications quickly and inexpensively. That’s just what Transamerica Life Insurance was looking for when it sought to provide its business partners with self-service access in real time.
“We exchange a lot of data with our different distributors outside the firewall,” says Jeff Gleason, director of IT strategies at Transamerica’s annuity products and services division. “A lot of that was being done via flat-file batch data exchanges.”
Gleason realized that to stay competitive, Transamerica would have to provide its business partners with real-time access to its numerous legacy back-end systems. That’s a complex undertaking, however, for several reasons.
“We live in a very challenging legislative environment, with Sarbanes-Oxley, the Patriot Act, anti-laundering laws, tax laws, and other types of controls,” Gleason says. “As legislation and the competitive environment change, we need to be able to make changes to our internal systems quickly, including changing rules, the ways taxes are calculated, or the way a product functions given specific criteria. At the same time, we often have to customize products and services for each of our different distribution channels. And sometimes we get requests from specific banks or broker dealers to create products for their particular niche markets or new areas they want to compete in. These things often impact our internal business processes.”
To provide real-time access, Transamerica also needed ways to validate agents as licensed and appointed to sell specific products in specific states. “Validating an agent is not as simple as looking something up in a system,” Gleason says. Depending on the commission structure there might be many different rules about how the commission hierarchy, which has up to 10 levels, is set up internally.”
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