Top UK insurance company Norwich Union is blaming legacy back office systems for delaying its move to Internet selling.
The man in charge of Internet initiatives at the 200-year-old company claims plans to sell insurance over the Net have been hampered by "unfriendly" legacy systems.
Andrew Morrey, group Internet project manager at Norwich Union, said: "If it wasn't for the state of back office systems, we'd be selling insurance on the Net already."
Morrey, who reports directly to Norwich Union's chairman, said that because core systems were designed to be used by specialists, user-friendly Internet interfaces have proved hard to develop. He said: "The back office systems were designed for techies, not customers."
He added: "Customers want to fill in a couple of fields in a form and get a result. Back office systems currently can't do this."
But Morrey hopes that sometime next year the company will begin selling general insurance. He said "Life insurance will come later because it is more complicated."
Norwich Union is currently providing insurance quotes over its Web site. Morrey believes that it is essential for companies to offer more than just a shop front on their sites. He said: "Just putting up marketing information is just not enough, you may as well not bother."
Norwich Union, which does much of its business through brokers, is also considering the replacement of a dial-up system for communicating agents with one based on Internet technologies. Morrey said it is looking at providing agents services through a controlled-access Web site. If the plan gets board approval, agents will be provided with an Internet access package and a Norwich Union-branded Web browser.
Morrey's six-strong Internet team at Norwich Union is charged with running the company's Web site and introducing the rest of the company to Web technologies. It works alongside the company's IT department to develop systems.
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