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9/9/2009
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InformationWeek 500: 20 Great Ideas To Steal

InformationWeek 500 innovators reveal some of their top projects. Could something similar work at your company? Let the brainstorming begin.

Voice Closes Deals For CUNA Mutual

When CUNA Mutual Group's call center contacted potential customers who had expressed interest in the company's insurance products, people who decided to buy still had to sign and mail back completed forms, and 80% never bothered.

To turn this around, the IT team developed technology that captures a voice signature using a device installed between the phone and the representative's computer. The rep records a customer confirming information and agreeing to the purchase, and that voice signature is embedded in the application and saved.

Voice-signature technology has made CUNA Mutual's sales process faster and easier. During the first month, voice signature delivered a 74% improvement in the company's sales, and the new process generated about $1.8 million in additional revenue by increasing the percentage of sales completed, while also reducing mailings.


BayCare Health Uses Palm Vein ID

BayCare Health System, which has nine hospitals in the Tampa Bay area, has implemented palm vein scanning, a biometric identity approach used to instantly identify patients anywhere in the system.

Patients were unhappy repeating the same information at each visit and were concerned about identity theft. BayCare found retinal scanning and fingerprinting to be too invasive, less accurate, and carried a stigma. With palm vein scanning, all a patient has to do is put a hand on the cradle to bring records up on a screen.

BayCare used Fujitsu's PalmSecure, upgrading its Siemens Invision hospital information system and writing code to integrate the palm scanning process with its existing registration pathways. The first two pilots went live in two months, with full implementation in three.

The ID system can be used anywhere in BayCare's system and saves staff at least seven keystrokes by eliminating the need to type in five pieces of demographic data. It's improving patient satisfaction and safety by eliminating mistaken identity.


Greening Of Colgate's Data Center

Colgate-Palmolive's Enterprise Service Center is reducing its global data center's carbon footprint, starting by consolidating 56 data centers into one that connects more than 107 countries with more than 300 locations.

It has virtualized whatever it could, with its virtual Windows environment alone reducing the number of physical servers by more than 80%. Colgate implemented adaptive computing, improving asset utilization by automatically reallocating computing power from one region or server to another as needed.

The company has taken to cloud computing, implementing infrastructure, platform, storage and application stack components. It's also undertaken thermal air-flow studies to improve cooling capabilities and is in the process of automating year-round monitoring that lets it identify hot and cold spots at any point and time.

With 99.6% of Colgate's business now running on these systems, the results include cutting servers by more than 90% while increasing processing power about 400%. Storage capacity is up 46%, and electrical usage has been steadily dropping.


Grange Speeds Up With F#

Grange Insurance is working with Microsoft to use F#, a new software programming language, to handle complex mathematical formulas very efficiently. F# also is able to take advantage of high-performing computing and maximize multiprocessor servers.

Performance is what really sets F# apart. Using C#, Grange can rate 50,000 policies in seven hours. With F#, that takes 5 to 7 minutes. Grange expects F# will vastly improve its speed to market with new prices. With hundreds of rate changes annually, Grange's pricing team must process a proposed change 10 to 15 times, with each taking 4 to 8 hours. With F#, processing a change takes 5 to 10 minutes, so instead of a proposed rate change taking up to 15 days to finalize, it can be finished in a few hours.

F# also will let let the company provide more product options and let agents tailor policies to customers needs.



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