IBM is close to announcing the first pilot site for Insure Risk Network, its global electronic commerce initiative for the insurance industry.
With the project, IBM will cock a snook at BT, which has a rival system called World Insurance Network (Win), aiming to link insurance brokers and providers around the world.
Graham Mansfield, IBM?s insurance sector manager, said Insure Risk Network will include customers, re-insurers and other service providers in the loop, unlike Win, and will be based on open standards, such as Internet Protocol (IP).
?The feedback from our research of the market is that there is a requirement for an alternative [to Win]. Corporate risk managers need to be involved and they are not included in Win,? said Mansfield.
IBM?s project was started 18 months ago and is part of the company?s multibillion dollar Electronic Business initiative. The technology already provides the infrastructure for Ivans, a network of 500 insurance establishments supporting 100,000 users. Ivans is based in north America and provides a range of communications services to the insurance and healthcare industries.
Big Blue said it hopes to include Limnet, a similar network for the London insurance industry, in Insure Risk Network soon. It is also in early discussion stages with Renet, the European insurance network. Limnet will announce whether it will join later this month, while the first pilot firm for IBM?s network is expected to be announced by the end of the year, said Mansfield.
Among the components of Insurance Risk Network that will soon be available are mail switching, directory services, and information services, with data repository support planned for the first half of next year.
The appearance of an alternative network will be a blow to BT?s Win, which was originally announced in 1995. Win is a joint venture between six insurance firms, which signed BT as the chief technology partner to create the worldwide network. But little has been released from BT since the original announcement.
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