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XML aids cross-company collaboration. (E-Fusion Conference: Innovation; Technology).

What the World Wide Web did for human communication, new Internet-based tools are about to do for insurers in the corporate environment, a Microsoft Corp. executive said. Those new tools, falling under the heading of Web services, will enable different corporate applications in different companies to work together in ways that haven't been possible before, despite the promises of Web-based technologies such as the Java programming language, said Kevin Kelly, managing director of financial services at Microsoft.

Underlying much of the coming revolution will be extensible markup language, or XML, which allows bridges to be built between companies and platforms, Kelly said.

Kelly stressed that Web services already are in the real world, citing examples of a "full-blown, wireless agency management system" that's been deployed, and an application in which Travelers Property & Casualty Insurance tied into a pre-existing system widely used by auto glass shops.

He drew an analogy with the development of the Web, which through shared languages and protocols has become seamless, despite the array of technology platforms underlying individual sites. Web services are about to put collaboration across corporate platforms on the same level of ease, he said.

Using XML and other tools in the field of "application-to-application" programming, Kelly said, "We've solved what used to be the first two weeks of integration meetings."

Kelly said ACORD, an insurance industry standards organization, has become a key partner in the Web Services Interoperability Organization, a wider effort among industries to foster development of Web services.

Web services will make it easier to build online insurance exchanges, because "now there's an application engine" in place of the "duct tape and baling wire" that's been used to date, Kelly said.

Another example of the potential, Kelly said, would be tying a claims system in with suppliers' catalogs to find the prices of materials and thereby calculate settlement amounts more quickly and accurately.
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Comment:XML aids cross-company collaboration. (E-Fusion Conference: Innovation; Technology).
Author:Noonan, Brendan
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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