Is technology independence a reality? A point of view by illustrate inc

Technology: you can’t live without it, but how do you keep up with it without breaking the bank?

It’s the age-old issue that companies continue to face; only today, technology is evolving at an ever-faster pace. Imagine three years ago, the iPad did not exist and tablet technology was fighting to find a legitimate audience in the business world. Today, thanks in part to the iPad, tablets have taken off, growing from sales of 2 million in 2009 to more than 63 million in 2011, with projections of sales as high as 202 million in 2015. Tablets are here to stay, and most companies need to find a strategy to support them going forward.

The problem is that tablets are running a variety of operating systems, from Apple’s industry-leading iOS to the Android OS, HP’s webOS, RIM’s Blackberry OS, and Windows Pro 7. Unfortunately, there is no easy or specific cross-platform approach to developing for all these different options. Toss in the web and desktop, JAVA and .NET environments, and the difficulty level just increased again.

Sure, you can choose to support a single tablet – but which one? Today Apple’s iPad dominates with more than 63.5% of the market – this is down from 95% market share in the 3rd quarter of 2010. Android-based tablets, along with the Nook and Amazon’s Kindle, continue to capture a growing share of the market. Choosing the wrong solution today can be disastrous. Does anyone remember the Betamax cassette? While it only would have cost any given consumer a few hundred dollars to have picked Batamax over VHS technology, choosing the wrong tablet to support can cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So the question remains, how do you develop your life insurance sales applications today in a cost-effective way that allows you to take advantage of future technologies without costly rewrites? OPUS, the illustration and point-of-sale solution created by illustrate inc., is an illustration solution built on a True Engine Architecture™.

What is a True Engine Architecture?

Most companies create their systems by developing what is typically called a calculation engine, as well as other engines such as report engines or interface engines. These are common terms used in the life and annuity industry but they need a little more explanation.

What the industry typically calls a calculation engine is a single container or executable that is made of code, developed by programmers, which represents the various rules and calculations necessary to illustrate the functionality of a life or annuity product. While they may have tools associated with these engines, the engines themselves almost always require some coding modification in order to work properly for each new life or annuity product developed. In other words, for each new life or annuity product created, you end up with a specific calculation engine or report engine created for these products. The result is a code-specific engine based on a very specific platform, e.g. JAVA, .NET, Android, or iOS.

Once created, any shift to a new technology base requires that the calculation engines or report engines be rewritten or converted to the new language or OS specific requirements, thus causing significant time and costs. If you have been around the industry for a while you have faced this exact scenario. The shift from DOS to Windows required a rewrite or “conversion” of your products at significant cost, as did the shift from Windows to Web. It’s a scenario that companies have faced for quite some time.

How is OPUS different?

OPUS is built on a True Engine Architecture, which means the calculation engine never changes from one product to the next or from one company to the next. You can implement all your life and annuity products and you have the same calculation engine that everyone else has. The calculation engine does not contain anything specific to your products. Instead it is built to accept data using SmartFile™ technology; everything specific to your product is saved in a SmartFile, which contains specific information about your product rules, calculations, edits, rates, etc.

A SmartFile is read by the calculation engine and the data is utilized by the engine to produce a product specific set of calculation results. Uniquely, the OPUS engines are built on a True Engine Architecture that is completely independent of any client product specifications.

Why is True Engine Architecture important?

The OPUS calculation engine is an industry “workhorse,” tested time and time again with each new product implementation. When you want to change technologies, your product rules, calculations, edits, rates, etc., don’t have to be changed in the new technology. Your product Intellectual Property (IP) investment is protected because your product SmartFile doesn’t change. Instead, the calculation engine is adapted to run in the new technology. It is regression tested and then the new solution is deployed.

This means you have the confidence to know that what you implement today will still be a viable solution no matter what new technology may come tomorrow or further down the road. OPUS offers you the flexibility to be truly technology-independent with a platform that will serve your needs for years to come.

To find out more about illustrate inc and our OPUS solution, visit or contact us at 877-575-5510 or email us at [email protected].

Published with permission.