Claims organizations are sitting on a treasure trove of data and information, but making it actionable can sometimes be a challenge. This is especially true when dealing with litigation management. Insurance companies already have great experience making data actionable through their work on the underwriting side – it’s really just a matter of time, knowledge and guidance before they learn to apply the same savvy to litigation management.

The challenges of litigation management never change:

What is the severity of this case?

Which firm will deliver the best outcome at the lowest whole case cost?

What factors influence indemnity payout?

To find solutions to these problems, claims departments should consider a consolidated litigation management solution, which can help them trim claim and expense costs, streamline and automate workflows, and enforce best practices. Insurance claims departments can, and should, better think about and leverage data as it relates to litigation management in order to aid in decision making, better manage outside counsel, and facilitate cost savings.

An insurer’s claims data contains valuable metrics about the claims department, staff counsel, and outside counsel. However, simply implementing an e-billing and matter management system doesn’t automatically allow a company to fully realize the potential of the claim department’s data. A consolidated litigation management solution should report on those metrics and enable a company to use those metrics to optimize the claim department’s performance through better financial management, stronger law firm engagement decisions, and more effective strategic planning.

To start, one should take an inventory of which systems are in place to collect data from including the claims system, billing system, and matter management system. With those three systems in place you already open the door to a treasure trove of data that ranges from law firm to case type to outcome.

With this level of data to sort through and pull from, departments can create a view of data to take litigation management to the next level. But let’s take a step back to access how these parts come together.

Aid in Decision Making

Automating the litigated claim and expense lifecycle with tasks, routing, rules and fee guidelines enables you to enforce limits, gather approvals and improve operational efficiency. Combining the benefits of being able to estimate spend at both macro and micro levels with enforcement tools allows insurance companies to monitor adherence from the top down and bottom up including:

Create top-line estimates and component part bottom-line estimates (budgets for individual matters and law firms)

Receive enforcement alerts to let you know when estimates-to-actuals are reaching thresholds

It is important to share information in an organized manner across the claims department to reduce the growing enterprise-wide expense pressure. Because it costs more to operate and train on multiple systems, implementing a consolidated platform helps insurers respond to expense pressure.

Greater Transparency

With the right technology you can avoid surprise and unexpected claims results. By implementing a comprehensive view of litigated claims data that advances development and implementation of claims management strategies you can forge a clearer path.

In billing, you can increase visibility through e-billing systems helps detect duplicate and erroneous payments as well as invoices that are not in compliance with insurance company guidelines. With matter management systems, the claims organization has insight into activities and schedules to meet critical case deadlines. Matter management systems also provide company management with a view into the activities of the claims department and lawyers, as well as easy access to the details of any individual litigated claim.

Better Manage Outside Counsel

Understanding what drives your litigation expense helps you improve it. It is only when you can unlock insight into critical litigation management data such as law firm rates, cycle times, task and activity concentration and staffing models that you can effectively gauge what firm is right for what job.

At the outset of a claim, a litigation management system can incorporate a rules-based approach to help staff determine not only what type of cases should go to outside counsel versus staff counsel, but also which specific inside or outside resource should be assigned the case based on past performance and areas of expertise.

Managing litigation is not just about reviewing bills; it involves actively overseeing each case. This includes managing documents, diaries, and communications by case, and having the ability to effectively collaborate with both staff counsel and outside counsel on these items. It is key to provide an organized strategy for important case documentation. Documents are not limited to invoices and include a whole host of correspondence, diaries, and communications.

Collaboration is also essential to robust document management and effective matter management. The litigation management solution should therefore provide the ability for claim managers and the assigned attorneys (staff counsel or outside counsel) to create, assign and update tasks for matters, invoices, vendors, timekeepers, or client users from the same system. Rather than creating only a simple listing of projects, the system should provide task associations that deliver active reminders of what needs to be completed as well as the link to the actual work area, ensuring that team members can quickly navigate to priority tasks.

Facilitate Cost Savings

Manual processes are notoriously inefficient. An automated solution not only delivers greater transparency into the litigation process, but also increased efficiency into the workflows of litigation management. Automated workflow enables claims departments to streamline, automate, and eliminate manual processes, rather than physically routing approvals and requests around from one area to the next.

With the entire claim department’s data at management’s fingertips, the department is better able to add value to the organization with metrics that identify best practices for both staff and outside counsel. The department can compare case cycle times, team concentrations, budgets, risk management profiles, outcome information, and more, allowing it to allocate resources more effectively and identify those staff lawyers and outside law firms that bring the most value to the company.

Powerful business intelligence and insight can reduce costs and improve outcomes for claims organizations. Insurers have seen the benefit of deploying technology to control costs and better manage litigation in the claims department. Implementing a consolidated litigation management solution helps insurers trim claim expense costs, streamline and automate workflows, and enforce best practices throughout the claims discipline. The end results are better decision-making and improved case outcomes, which benefit not only insurers, but also their investors, agents, and customers.

What BYOD Means For Security

January 12th, 2013

What BYOD means for security?

It’s risky to assume that prohibiting personal devices solves the problem, because employees end up using their own devices anyway, unmonitored and undeterred by your security policies.

Whatever you think of BYOD and however you choose to implement it, IT managers should treat it the same way as any introduction of new technology: with a controlled and predictable deployment.

Ask yourself:

  1. Who owns the device? That’s a question that has changed over time. In the past, the company owned the devices. With BYOD the devices are owned by the user.
  2. Who manages the device? Previously this was an easy question to answer. Today it could be either the company or the end user.
  3. Who secures the device? Accountability is not something that goes away for a user just because they personally own the device. After all, the data carried on it is company-owned.

Answering these questions is fundamental to both understanding security risks and taking advantage of the rewards of BYOD.

All organizations have the flexibility, based on their corporate culture and regulatory requirements, to embrace BYOD as much as they deem reasonable. For example, there are companies who have decided the risk is too great and choose not to implement a BYOD program.

Read more about that : BYOD – New Trend In Business Workplace

In May 2012, IBM banned its 400,000 employees from using two popular consumer applications over concerns about data security and recovery. The company banned cloud storage service Dropbox, as well as Apple’s personal assistant for the iPhone, Siri. Siri listens to spoken requests and sends the queries to Apple’s servers where they are deciphered into text. Siri can also create text messages and emails on voice command, but some of these messages could contain sensitive, proprietary information.

Ultimately, the success of your BYOD program is measured by your employees’ willingness to use their personal devices within the rules you set for them. Your organization’s security procedures and policies should determine whether and how you adopt BYOD.

You need to have the ability to enforce security policies on a device level and protect your intellectual property if that device is ever lost or stolen.

How to Design Your Own Blog

December 28th, 2012

Blogging is becoming increasingly popular activity with people from all walks of life. There are health blogs, marketing bogs, IT blogs, and home improvement blogs. Parenting blogs are often authored by people who are parents and want to share parenting tips on a variety of topics.

Business blogging is popular as well. Business blogs add to company’s visibility on the web, and help with website search positioning. Business blogs are also an excellent way to keep the website content fresh and provide industry related advice to blog readers. It is a great addition to customer loyalty program and another way to add value to business services. 

design your blog, business blogging

There are a few critical aspects to designing your own blog. It’s always good to follow the first rule of thumb – keep it simple. There is a tendency for all of us to want a fancy, flamboyant blog. Evidence tells us that some of the more successful blogs are not that fancy at all, in fact some are down right ugly.

The Welcome Sign

Your blog header is just like a stores welcome sign, it can attract readers or it can turn them off. The header in a blog sort of sets the tone for the way a visitor perceives your site.

DIY: You will find several websites that allow you to create your own header for free. These headers will be just fine for starters, but later on you may want to hire a professional graphic designer to make a more attractive header for you.

Navigation

Generally the top navigation bar is for static pages. Things like: About page, contact page, resources, things of this nature, payment page. Your sidebar is reserved for recent articles categories and opt-in forms (if applicable).

Main Body

The main body of your blog should use a white background with black letters. This is known to be reader friendly is less strain on the eyes.

Keeping your blog simple and organized makes it easy for visitors to find information they’re looking for, and it makes it easy for you to maintain too.

Hands-on With New iPad Mini

October 24th, 2012

The full-sized iPad is like a hardback book. The new iPad Mini is the paperback version many tablet users have been waiting for.

new-ipad-mini

Following Tuesday’s press conference, Apple ushered reporters into a crowded, narrow room in San Jose’s restored California Theater for some chaperoned hands-on time with the new devices.

Of course, the most important impressions come later, after proper battery and speed testing. And it’s not until masses of people start field-testing a device that the most memorable (and often overblown) issues come to light. That was the case with the iPhone 5′s Maps mishaps, body scratches and camera quirks.

But since the iPad Mini’s specs are similar to the iPad 2, its primary selling point is its mini-ness. So physically putting your hands on the device tells you a lot.

Apple unveils the iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini unveiled: Will it sell? In the hands-on demo space, people took turns testing out various grips on the smaller iPad, attempting to hold it in one hand while navigating through apps with just a thumb. The device is 5.3 inches (or 2.3 iPhones) across, so the single-handed approach won’t work for some petite paws.

The tablet is light, 312 grams, but still feels substantial and sturdy in your hand. Apple’s thinness obsession has touched nearly every one of its product lines this past year, and the iPad Mini could conceivably have been a slip of a gadget. The iPad Mini is just barely thinner than the iPhone 5, and a bit thicker than the iPod Touch.

The 9.8-inch iPad’s screen is big and beautiful, but getting comfortable with the device can require creative positioning. Apple’s own cases for the iPad addressed this by adding options for propping the iPad up. The new iPad won’t have this problem. As Kindle users can attest, the smaller size is perfect for curling up on a couch or in bed.

Apple is in the unusual position (for Apple) of being the new kid in an already crowded market. It will go against the well-received Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. There are some nice external design touches that Apple hopes will set its product apart. What’s most striking is how wide the screen is, with an ultra-thin bezel (that’s the frame around the screen) along the left and right sides.

Even though it went smaller, Apple didn’t go as small as its biggest competitors, allowing it to still dangle that “size matters” specification over Amazon and Google’s heads.

During the presentation, Phil Schiller. Apple’s senior vice president of marketing, compared the iPad Mini to what looked like a Nexus 7. The Nexus 7 has received good reviews and has a few advantages over the iPad Mini, including a non-proprietary micro-USB charging port (the iPad uses Apple’s new Lightning connector), and its screen packs in more pixels per inch. The iPad Mini does not have a Retina Display something Apple is no doubt saving for a future version.

Those details may not end up mattering to consumers. The iPad Mini’s biggest advantage is its simple operating system and well-stocked App Store. If someone opts to pay the higher price for an iPad Mini, they will do it for the brand and the ecosystem.

Students search online for everything—even when they know other sources might be more trustworthy

These days, college students who need an apartment head straight to Google or another search engine. Even sites such as apartments.com or apartmentguide.com are becoming an afterthought to this demographic.

According to a survey conducted between December 2011, and February 15, 2012, by residential and student marketing agency Catalyst, 53% of college students surveyed ranked search engines as the most important source in helping them find a place to live. They pointed to friends’ and parents’ recommendations as second- and third-most important, at 37% and 27%, respectively. Google was not just students’ top resource for apartments; 98% listed Google Search as the place they seek any information online.

Indeed, another recent study showed that when doing research for coursework, college students first went to Google or another search engine. An ebrary study indicated that in 2011, 85% of college attendees worldwide turned to Google to gather information for class assignments, up from 81% who did so in 2008. A somewhat smaller percentage of college students (79%) used print books for this purpose.

Top 10* Resources Used for Research/Class Assignments According to College Students Worldwide, 2008 & 2011 (% of respondents)

It’s no wonder that college students are heavy users of search engines. eMarketer estimates that nearly 83% of all US internet users will use a search engine at least once a month during 2012, and a Pew Internet & American Life Project study found in May 2011 that younger and better-educated US internet users used search engines the most.

Demographic Profile of US Search Engine Users, Feb 2012 (% of internet users in each group)

While the popularity of Google is undisputed, one surprising element of the ebrary report is that, in 2011, students worldwide chose Google as a resource over printed books, even though they said that they viewed print as more trustworthy than any electronic resource. This was also the case in 2008.

“Students know that electronic information is transient and easy to produce compared to the product and processes of print publication,” the ebrary report said. “The barriers to print publication afford an intuitive impression of higher integrity.”

For search marketers, however, this means they can count on college students turning to Google and similar sites for the widest range of purposes, from lifestyle decisions to academic research.

On January 24th millions of Americans could face internet censorship with the passage of PIPA, the sister bill of SOPA.

What is SOPA?

The first bill, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) was introduced by Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas. Upon approval of this bill the government would shut down any site that they thought were violating copyright law. Much of the TV, film, and motion picture industry state that SOPA would protect them from losing trillions of dollars to illegally downloaded or stolen goods each year. The SOPA process regarding copyright violation:

  • No judicial process is required.
  • Only requires a letter stating a violation has occurred.
  • Once network gets letter, they are required to cut off services within 5 days.

Those who are on the opposition side, including Twitter, Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia, have all sent letters to Congress voicing their protests and concerns. With the passage of this legislation websites could be blocked from Google, causing them to lose revenue.

January 18 Protests

Many file sharing sites, such as You Tube and many others could be hurt. Wikipedia is among a list of companies who plan to go dark on Wednesday, January 18 in protest.

“I hope Wikipedia [users] will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday,” said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in a tweet about the January 18th protest.

What is PIPA?

The second, PIPA, or the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011” was introduced by Democratic Senator Patrick Leahry from Vermont. This bill is the senate version of SOPA and has more court intervention. What PIPA covers:

  • Attorney General can issue a court order on a search engine.
  • Requires plaintiffs to bring action against owner of a domain name.
  • Protection for companies that report web-sites that are “dedicated to infringing activities”.

The White House has officially responded to many e-petitions and has said that they would not sign the bills into law if passed in the house or senate.

White House Response

“While we believe that online piracy by foreign web-sites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity threats, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet,” the White House said in a statement. After the protests, four senators also resented their support for PIPA.

GPS, the Global Positioning System we rely on for guiding nuclear missiles and steering tourists to Mount Rushmore, has become a ripe target for enemy attack. In response, U.S. scientists are developing new ways to circumvent blocked GPS signals using matter waves to measure acceleration.

GPS is vulnerable because the radio signals that sattelites broadcast to receivers, such as those in small phones and in cars, are so weak that even low-power jammers can easily block them. (GPS devices use the signals from several satellites to tiangulate their position.) During the past decase, China and other countries have put satelites for their own regional navigation systems into orbit that work on different frequencies, which means that on a battlefield they could block U.S. signals without disturbing their own.

To get around this potential risk, U.S. scientists are developing new tech gadgets that can track an object’s position in the event GPS signals are cut off. These inertial measurement units, or IMUs, determine a target’s location by measuring changes in acceleration since the last GPS reading. Until now such devices, based on a variety of technologies from mechanical to laser-based, have often been bulky and prone to error after prolonged use. By taking advantage of the quantum-mechanical properties of matter, however, engineers have come up with gadgets that could prove 1,000 times more accurate.

These “cold atom” devices use lasers and magnets to confine clouds of atoms into a very narrow range of energies, explains Werner J.A.Dahm, the U.S. Air Force’s chief scientist. (Such constraints make them “cold” in a quantum-mechanical sense, not in temperature) Under these conditions, scientists can detect matter behaving like a wave. The devices split these matter waves in 2 and send each part in opposite directions before bringing them back together. If the device moves while the waves are split apart, one wave will experience acceleration slightly before its counterpart. The laser detects this change when the waves recombine. Because the waves have very small wavelengths – billionths of a meter in size – scientists can use them for ultraprecise measurements of acceleration.

The gadgets might be ready for wide-range use within a decade.

The Era Of Infinite Storage

October 12th, 2011

Imagine carrying all the music ever recorded by the human race in your pocket. That will be possible by the end if this decade. If you want all the movies and TV programs, too, that will take only a few years more. Or imagine making an audio recording of your whole life, from beginning to end: that is affordable already. Video will be possible in a few years. Data storage devices such as hard drives and flash memory have gotten so dense and so cheap that for most purposes their storage capacity will soon be unlimited.The era of infinite storage will begin. However, recovering data from those devices will become more specialized and more expensive when recovering from data loss is not an option but a necessity.

While the cost of memory is dropping exponteneously, ubiquitous gadgets such as cell phones are also making data gathering easy. Add indexing software and a good search engine, and you will have an archive of everything you have seen and done. Add data analysis tools, and you will have a new lens on your life.

The way we think about information is changing, too. Rather than having to decide what to keep, we keep everything. Rather than deciding what to record, we record everything. No longer will you have to struggle to remember the name of Italian restaurant in Virginia Beach where you ate 3 years or the address of a local chiropractor in Hampton. You will consult your video archive and find out in no time.

Some technology buffs already record every mundane detail of their lives and use software analysis to spot trends – helping them improve their diets, monitor their exercise regimens or figure out what affects their moods.

Infinite storage will challenge our notions of privacy. Much of the time you will show up somewhere on someone else’s records. Each misstep and embarrassment will remain forever visible, unless you take steps to expunge it. We need a new consensus, and possibly new rules, to govern our storage and use of information.

And we need them soon.

Choosing the most reliable courier service provider is easy, if you are able to pinpoint your business’s transportation needs. Here are a few tips that will help you to streamline the process of choosing courier service company:

1) Determine your business needs.

There are a lot of courier companies to choose from,  some of them specialize in international shipping, some in same day delivery service, some excel at delivering fragile items. Some medical couriers specialize in carrying medical supplies, records and even blood, urine and organs, which need to be transported in climate-controlled vehicles and must be delivered within a very small window of time. Others choose to focus on aiding legal companies or collecting materials for manufacturing companies and distributing their products.

Once you determine your business needs, search for delivery company that specializes in this particular service that your business requires.

2) Ask for references.

Word of mouth is still a trustful source of information. Ask your partners and competitors which carrier they trust for courier delivery services. then do your home work and conduct your own research on several delivery companies they recommend.

3) Be a Loyal Client and Ask for Discounts

Once you pick a delivery company and use their courier delivery services for a period of time, you’ll understand why they’re the best choice for your industry. Don’t expect or anticipate failure – trust your delivery service to do what they say they will do. After all, they are a company, just like yours, and sub-standard service is never an option.

Text Messaging Statistics 2011

August 19th, 2011

Text message usage and taking pictures is the most common use of a cell phone other than talking, according to a new study by Pew.  73% of adult cell owners use the text message function on their cell phones.

Americans average 41.5 text messages per day sent or received.  That is a slight increase over the study from 2010, but a significant increase over the use of text messaging from 2009.  So, it appears as though the use of text messages is starting to level out a bit.

Text messaging statistics, text messaging usage

When it comes to text messaging, the younger you are, the more likely you are to be an avid use of text messges.  That should come as no surprise.  According to text messaging statistics, while older Americans are starting to text more, the numbers of text messages used by young adults and teens is staggering.  95% of those 18 to 29 use text messaging on their phones and these users send and receive an average of 87.7 text messages per day.

Of those 18 to 24, the average is 109.5 text messages per day, double the number for 25-34-year-olds and 23 times greater than those 65+.

text messaging statistics, text messaging usage