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Winter Journal

Volume 29, Issue 1

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Jon Seals

Company's AppBoard Customers Win With New Tools for Mobile Relationship Management


HONG KONG, CHINA and SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Exicon Ltd., the leading global provider of mobile relationship management tools and services, announced new partnerships today with Localytics and Priori Data in its "continuing quest to provide the gold standard" in simplifying the mobile ecosystem. Localytics is the leading app lifecycle engagement platform and Priori Data is the app store analytics specialist.

Exicon has again pushed the envelope, by offering customers the ability to gain "powerful insights into how their apps are performing, and those of their competition. This will allow customers to focus the right resources to the right users at the right time, with the right product," according to Exicon co-founder and CEO, Stefan Rust.

Rust further explained "with these new partnerships, our platform will take on a whole new meaning to app analytics and competitive reporting. The Exicon AppBoard is rapidly evolving to provide a premier app portfolio management system for organizations struggling to build, manage and promote apps in order to accelerate scale."

Enterprise app portfolios are proliferating as companies transform more of their data, content and services into mobile apps. "The number of internal B2B and B2E apps are growing at rates 4 to 5 times the rates of consumer apps," Rust said. Companies are looking for tools, such as the AppBoard, to help them with the key steps of managing an app while delivering cost savings and levels of efficiency previously unavailable.

"It's no longer about plugging mobile into your business, it's about your business plugging into mobile," says co-founder Cat Purvis.

Exicon has over 2,000 customers for the AppBoard platform, including both small customers (2 or 3 apps under management) and large enterprises. Exicon's largest customer manages nearly 400 mobile apps on the AppBoard.

About Exicon

Exicon is a leading Mobile Relationship Management software and services company. Customers include top brands, enterprises, as well as SMEs. Additionally, the Exicon developer network extends to 3,000+ mobile app development companies around the world, with transaction values exceeding $400M in app development over the past 7 years. Exicon is a Red Herring 100 Global tech company, and has been identified as a candidate as a Gartner "Cool Company" for 2016. . For more information, please visit www.exiconglobal.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Schoharie put its new DisasterLAN (DLAN) system to the test during a New York State sponsored exercise this spring and found it greatly improved their ability to respond to a disaster.

On March 27 Schoharie County Office of Emergency Management participated in an exercise to examine their response and recovery plans. This year's event was a simulation of how they would respond if water began to come over the Gilboa dam. This scenario was similar to an event that occurred in January 1996 when record flooding resulted in 6.7 feet of water amassing in the spillway of the dam.

During the simulated High Water Event, Schoharie County utilized their web-based DLAN system for task, mission, and resource management. The DLAN Status Board gives the County the ability to view GIS Maps with data, animated weather radar, social media feeds, documents, photos, and more all on one screen, allowing them to quickly assess the situation and respond accordingly. During the exercise it was used to display various scenario information as the exercise progressed, for example it displayed emergency situation messages such as road closures and shelter statuses.

DLAN's GIS COP Viewer was used to show simulated flood inundation data overlaid on top of critical infrastructure and facilities in relation to key layers such as functional needs and populations. DLAN allowed the County to quickly visualize how the High Water Event would unfold and how best to save both lives and property.

In preparation for the Exercise, BCG worked with Schoharie County to properly configure the system and train staff on how to share data directly from their DLAN System with New York State's DLAN System. BCG staff also worked with Schoharie to test out one of DLAN's newest offerings, an AVL solution through BCG partner Gentrifi, to track medical vehicles in real time.

"The service that Buffalo Computer Graphics (BCG) provided to Schoharie County in support of our high water exercise was invaluable. BCG provided a Common Operating Picture (COP) that enabled our elected officials to make informed decisions to protect their residents." - Michael Hartzel, Schoharie County Director of Emergency Services.

About BCG:
BCG is a global provider of Incident Management Software, Mass Notification Systems, Maritime Training Solutions, and Custom Hardware & Software Engineering.

Latest release of the leading multiplatform installation solution is the first to support Docker containers, and to further simplify deployment of complex applications


Maidenhead, UK – Flexera Software, the leading provider of next-generation software licensing, compliance and installation solutions for application producers and enterprises, announced today the launch of InstallAnywhere 2015. The first multiplatform installation solution to support Docker, the new release also simplifies deployment of complex applications by enabling installations to connect to the leading database servers, ensures that installations support Windows 10, and supports the latest digital certificate requirements from Microsoft.


"Software vendors want to lead their markets by supporting new technologies like Docker, but they realise that many customers still require traditional installers. So, they want to support both without duplicating effort for installation development," said Maureen Polte, Vice President of Product Management at Flexera Software. "InstallAnywhere 2015 is the first installation development solution that supports Docker. And it allows application producers to support both traditional multiplatform installations and Docker images from the same project."


Docker Containers
Docker is an open platform for developers and system administrators to build, ship, and run distributed applications, whether on laptops, data center VMs, or the cloud. InstallAnywhere 2015 increases producers' deployment options and simplifies installation development by automatically creating both Docker images and traditional multiplatform installers from a single InstallAnywhere project. Users can search and pull images from public and private Docker repositories to build containers that run distributed applications on any system or machine where Docker is supported - virtual, physical or cloud.


Simplifying Deployment of Complex Applications
Myriad new features and enhancements in InstallAnywhere 2015 further extend the solution's leadership position in multiplatform installation, including:

  • Windows 10 Support: Installation developers can save time by creating a single installation project to build installations for each supported platform including, now, Windows 10. InstallAnywhere 2015 already supports earlier versions of Windows, Apple, Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, AIX and IBM.
  • Microsoft® SHA-256 Support: InstallAnywhere 2015 prepares developers for changes in Microsoft's certificate requirements. After January 1, 2016, installations will need to be signed with SHA-256 digital certificates in order to be trusted by Windows. InstallAnywhere 2015 supports SHA-256 certificates and digests, enabling companies to start adopting SHA-256 certificates before the January deadline.
  • Multiplatform Development Environment Support: Producers can increase efficiency by creating installers from the same platform on which Java or multiplatform applications are coded, such as Windows 10, OS X 10.10 and popular Linux distributions.
  • TomcatTM and WebSphere® Web App Installations: Installations for modern complex applications often require significant time and effort connecting to a web server to create or update a web app. InstallAnywhere 2015 streamlines this process, allowing developers, with just a few clicks, to create installers that can securely deploy WAR and EAR files to Apache Tomcat and IBM WebSphere.
  • Installs Connecting to IBM DB2, Microsoft® SQL, and MySQLTM: Development of installations for complex applications are greatly simplified by installations that can easily connect to the leading database servers such as IBM DB2, Microsoft SQL, and MySQL. Built-in panels give users the ability to easily connect installations to their preferred database server.



Follow Flexera Software…

About Flexera Software
Flexera Software helps application producers and enterprises increase application usage and the value they derive from their software. Our next-generation software licensing, compliance and installation solutions are essential to ensure continuous licensing compliance, optimised software investments and to future-proof businesses against the risks and costs of constantly changing technology. Over 80,000 customers turn to Flexera Software as a trusted and neutral source for the knowledge and expertise we have gained as the marketplace leader for over 20 years and for the automation and intelligence designed into our products. For more information, please go to: www.flexerasoftware.com

Worldwide Customer Growth, Product Innovation Among Early Fiscal Year 2016 Company Highlights


London, UK – xMatters, inc., a leader in communication-enabled business processes, today announced continued company growth and accelerated worldwide adoption of its intelligent cloud communications solutions for the first quarter of xMatters' fiscal year, which ended on 30th June, 2015.


xMatters offers an award-winning intelligent cloud platform that automates pinpointing and alerting the individuals, teams and external service providers required to work together to quickly rectify critical business disruptions. xMatters' applications extend beyond traditional IT use cases enabling any business process with timely, interactive and automated communications.


Enterprise adoption and retention rates for the xMatters technology remained strong for the quarter, with 60 percent of sales coming from the Fortune 1000 and a customer retention rating of over 97 percent.


Another highlight for the quarter was the launch of the xMatters spring release, which was packed with innovative new features and functionality. The new release focused on addressing the complexity of today's modern IT and IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructures. New capabilities included improved personnel scheduling for incident management teams, market-leading collaboration features and strengthened mobility features for the mobile technology professional.


Other corporate highlights for the quarter ending on 30th June, 2015 include:

  • 13 consecutive quarters of record recurring revenue growth;
  • Over 80 percent year-over-year subscription revenue growth, attributed in large part to the rapid adoption of xMatters' cloud-based offerings;
  • 74 percent subscription license growth over same period last year;
  • Launch of two new data centers in North America to support customer growth;
  • Achieved 99.97 percent global uptime with 100 percent in several regions;
  • Delivered exceptional customer service, reducing xMatters' customer support mean-time-to-respond to incidents to 3.2 minutes;
  • Featured in the launch of the ServiceNow app store in April;
  • Announced a strategic relationship with Optus Business, a leading Australian ICT provider;
  • Over 20 new large enterprise and global customers added to the company roster, including Kellogg Company and Tesco; Kellogg Company, the world's leading cereal company, brought in the xMatters technology to support its IT business operations overhaul, while large UK retailer Tesco brought in the technology to improve global customer service;
  • Continued industry recognition, including being named among the best companies to work for in the San Francisco Bay Area by Bay Area News Group.

For more information on the xMatters intelligent cloud communication technology for the enterprise, go to: www.xmatters.com/products.


Supporting Quote
"Worldwide demand for our technology remains strong as businesses simply cannot afford long outages, disruptions and downtime," said Troy McAlpin, CEO of xMatters. "Each day, hundreds of large global enterprises and millions of people rely on our intelligent cloud communications solutions to keep businesses operational. I'm pleased with our progress so far this fiscal year, proud of the xMatters team and looking forward to continuing our progress to provide innovative communications solutions to our customers."



About xMatters, inc.
xMatters' cloud-based communications solutions enable any business process or application to trigger two-way communications (push, voice, email, SMS, etc.) throughout the extended enterprise during time-sensitive events. With over a decade of experience in rapid communication, xMatters serves more than 1,000 leading global firms to ensure business operations run smoothly and effectively during incidents such as IT failures, product recalls, natural disasters, dynamic staffing, service outages, medical emergencies and supply-chain disruption. xMatters is headquartered in San Ramon, CA with additional offices in London and Sydney.

RightsWATCH 7.0 more tightly integrates data classification and DLP strategies while enhancing the ability to securely share information with external users in collaboration with Azure RMS


Medford, NJ – Watchful Software, a leading provider of data-centric information security solutions, today announced the release of version 7.0 of RightsWATCH, the company's award-winning information security solution. The latest release of RightsWATCH more tightly integrates Data Loss Prevention (DLP) strategies with the discipline of data classification, and also leverages this tightly coupled approach to information protection to enable streamlined, secure collaboration with external users in a Microsoft Azure world.


From an information management and governance perspective, RightsWATCH 7.0 brings new capabilities to enable a more robust DLP strategy in the enterprise. In addition to enforcing a classification level for emails or unstructured files, RightsWATCH can also warn users about, or even block, actions that might be in violation of corporate information security policies. "RightsWATCH 7.0 works in real-time, preventing emails from being sent or files from being saved if specified conditions are triggered. On a broader basis, RightsWATCH makes info security a part of the company culture by warning users if they are sending emails to un-authorized recipients, or when files are being saved to un-authorized repositories," said Rui Melo Biscaia, Director of Product Management at Watchful Software.


To streamline and enable the process of secure collaboration with external users, RightsWATCH now allows companies to share information protected by Microsoft's Azure RMS with authorized third parties in a simple, seamless manner through automatic data classification which ‘understands' what those third parties should/shouldn't be allowed to do with the information. By leveraging the Azure RMS trust fabric, RightsWATCH allows classified emails and files protected by Azure RMS templates to be shared with both internal and external users transparently. This functionality enables enterprises to let corporate policy drive the role-based access control of sensitive information, removing that burden from individual end-users.


"Information protections have to move to a data centric focus. Both operational simplicity and effectiveness can't be achieved with tools and techniques from the last century. Data protections that are integrated at the point of use with the ability to educate and inform users can be particularly potent. Layering data protection capabilities is the most effective means of delivering comprehensive controls for DLP," stated Eric Hanselman, Chief Analyst at 451 Research.


To enable strict compliance throughout complex enterprises, RightsWATCH now delivers the ability to set information security policy rules on a group-level basis. Enterprises can now set up generic policy rules to be applied to the entire population of licensed RightsWATCH users, as well as specific policy rules only applied to users that belong to a specific department, project and/or Active Directory group.


This new version of RightsWATCH also provides easy integration between Splunk® and RightsWATCH's logging database. Splunk® searches, monitors, and analyzes machine-generated big data. Enterprises running Splunk® can correlate events and generate dashboards, alarms and reports, knowing in real time who is doing what, when, and how with classified information. "RightsWATCH operates in enterprise environments and we've made it possible for Splunk®, a leading player in the market, to understand and interpret events from RightsWATCH. Now, companies can take RightsWATCH- generated data and leverage Splunk® to make better, faster security decisions," said Rui Melo Biscaia.


Additional enhancements to RightsWATCH 7.0 include enabling enterprises to add images and icons as a header or footer to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF file types. Also, in releasing 7.0, unclassified files can be automatically classified by RightsWATCH as soon as they are attached to an email on MS Outlook.


RightsWATCH is a state-of-the-art information security solution that ensures sensitive information is identified, classified, marked, and that it can only be used by those authorized. If data is leaked, it is rendered useless to unauthorized parties that may acquire it. RightsWATCH enforces an organization's information security policy seamlessly and dynamically, allowing use of sensitive and confidential data only by those who possess the credentials, thereby protecting data privacy, reducing liability, and ensuring regulatory compliance.

About Watchful Software
Watchful Software was formed in 2012 to address the requirement to protect an organization's most critical asset after its people - its information. The company is staffed by industry executives with decades of systems, software, networking, security, and compliance experience to address the growing need for protecting sensitive and proprietary information against accidental or malicious theft, leakage, or loss. Leveraging key technologies including advanced encryption algorithms, digital rights management, and e-Biometrics, Watchful Software has developed a suite of solutions that ensure only authorized personnel have access to enterprise systems or can handle sensitive information, thereby protecting against the massive economic and competitive damage often done by cyberterrorists and information thieves. Learn more at www.watchfulsoftware.com.

Annual List Features Trailblazing Solution Providers Transforming Business with Emerging Technologies
Melville, N.Y. – Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS), a managed services provider to businesses using or considering moving to a cloud-based model, today announced that it has been recognized in The Channel Company's exclusive 2015 CRN® Next-Gen 250 list. The annual list honors forward-thinking technology solution providers who have transformed their business by breaking into emerging technologies such as cloud computing, unified communications, virtualization, mobility, business analytics, and business intelligence. These solution providers, each in business for less than 20 years, have adapted to an evolving marketplace with precision, clearly identifying themselves as the leaders of the future.
"As emerging technologies come to market, so do the new delivery models needed to support them. Agile integrators are in demand now more than ever to architect new technology solutions to meet customer needs," said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. "The trailblazing solution providers honored in this year's CRN Next-Gen 250 list continue to innovate and evolve to meet market demands and have clearly established themselves as the next generation of leadership in the IT channel. We congratulate the honorees named to this exclusive list for their achievements and look forward to following them in the future to see what they have in store."
Through its managed service model, SIAS is helping mid-market firms built on IBM hardware platforms to fully embrace the power of the cloud through production capacity, storage, high availability, and disaster recovery services. The company's ability to provide its customers with the necessary services to leverage the cloud to position their organizations for growth was a key factor in being included in the CRN Next-Gen 250 List.
"We're happy to receive this recognition because it's an acknowledgment of our commitment to the channel and to our reseller partners," said Hal Schwartz, CEO of SIAS. "Developing and implementing cloud strategies for IT is a vast marketplace and many resellers lack the tools to reap the benefits.  As a result, they're losing out on this business and also risk losing customers to the cloud.  SIAS works directly with our partners to provide the necessary levels of expertise, sales tools, funded marketing, and end-to-end sales support to not only succeed, but thrive in this new marketplace.  We're thrilled to be acknowledged by The Channel Company!"
A sampling of the Next-Gen 250 list will be featured in the August issue of CRN and online at both www.crn.comand through the CRN Tech News App for iPad and Windows 8.
About The Channel Company
The Channel Company, with established brands including CRN®, XChange® Events, IPED® and SharedVue®, is the channel community's trusted authority for growth and innovation. For more than three decades, we have leveraged our proven and leading-edge platforms to deliver prescriptive sales and marketing solutions for the technology channel. The Channel Company provides Communication, Recruitment, Engagement, Enablement, Demand Generation and Intelligence services to drive technology partnerships. Learn more at www.thechannelcompany.com.
About Secure Infrastructure & Services
Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider to businesses using or considering moving to a cloud-based model.  The company's Partner Program allows reseller partners to leverage SIAS's core offerings, which include: SecureHOST Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) for production and test workloads; SecureHA fully managed replication and availability services; and SecureDR virtualized recovery services.  As a result of its expert technical staff, secure and robust infrastructure of networks and data centers and its streamlined processes it is able to deliver its services at a lower cost for its clients.  As an IBM MSP Business Partner, SIaS provides its services for IBM AIX, Linux, OS/400 and other industry-leading platforms, such as Microsoft Windows.  The company is headquartered in Melville, N.Y. and can be located on the web at www.siasmsp.com.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will offer a new online master's degree in security and disaster management starting this fall.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities approved the degree last week. The approval allows the UAF School of Management to accept new students and deliver a program that supports students already studying homeland security and emergency management.

“Based on the popularity of the undergraduate HSEM program, which has grown from four to 180 students in five years, there clearly exists both a need and a strong interest in a graduate-level degree,” said Cameron Carlson, program director.

The master's program will give homeland security and emergency management practitioners the education needed to lead and manage at the operational to strategic levels. With its online delivery option, the master's program takes advantage of emerging technology while attracting students from around the world. It develops the skills to succeed in emergency and disaster professions in the military, civilian government agencies or industry.

Students can register now for classes. Two new classes include HSEM F601 - Legal Aspects of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and HSEM F609 - Human Security.

People interested in being a part of the first cohort of students in the master's program can contact Anita Hughes at alhughes2@alaska.edu.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Cameron Carlson, 907-474-6537, cdcarlson@alaska.edu

ON THE WEB: http://www.uaf.edu/som/degrees/undergraduate/bem/classes/

Veeam Deduplication and ExaGrid Zone Deduplication Gives Legal Services Firm the Ability to Store 116TB of Data in 30TB of Space to Maximize Data Reduction
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – Today, ExaGrid Systems, a leading provider of disk-based backup solutions, announced that U.S. Legal Support, Inc. has deployed the ExaGrid-Veeam Accelerated Data Mover for fast, efficient data protection. The combination of ExaGrid's industry-leading virtual server data protection solutions and Veeam® Software availability solutions allows U.S. Legal to utilize Veeam Backup & Replication™ in VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environments on ExaGrid's disk-based backup system.
U.S. Legal Support, Inc. was founded in 1996 and is a privately held company with over 60 offices located across the United States. U.S. Legal Support has proven to be a leading provider of litigation services; it's the only litigation support company that provides court reporting, record retrieval, litigation, eDiscovery, and trial services to major insurance companies, corporations, and law firms nationwide.
U.S. Legal Support has large databases that contain audio and video files of depositions and exhibits from numerous court cases. The company recently consolidated the management of its datacenter operations after a few years of outsourcing them to the cloud. The next challenge? To find a cost-effective and efficient backup solution that would efficiently protect its more than 100TB of data, which was growing larger every day.
"We discovered that two of the big problems with hosted storage are cost and speed, especially if your data is in the multi-terabyte range and higher," said Ryan McClain, systems architect at U.S. Legal Support. "We were spending more than $3,000 per month for 30TB of backup storage with one of our providers. We tried to back up to the cloud, but once we hit the 30TB mark, we couldn't back up the data fast enough, even though we were using a 200MB connection. Then, if an error occurred, we'd have to start all over again. It was horrible and extremely time-consuming."
U.S. Legal Support turned to a disk-based backup solution and found ExaGrid to be the best option due to its ability to provide quick backup and effective deduplication. The legal services firm uses a combination of the deduplication built into Veeam along with ExaGrid's Zone deduplication to maximize data reduction. After the data is passed from Veeam, the ExaGrid system deduplicates it again, with a reduction ratio of 3.97:1. In total, the company is able to store 116TB of data in 30TB of space on its two ExaGrid systems.
Plus, it tightly integrates with Veeam Backup & Replication™ which provides fast, flexible, and reliable recovery of virtualized applications and data. The resulting ExaGrid solution significantly reduced backup times by 84% and network resources while delivering a simple to manage solution to solve their backup challenge.
"Our backup times are so much faster using Veeam with the ExaGrid system," said McClain. "Other benefits have been stability and reliability. Because the ExaGrid is a purpose-built system and not a general purpose NAS box, backups run more consistently and trouble-free than before. I spend three to six fewer hours per week dealing with backup issues."
In addition to faster backup times and reduced hours and resources needed, ExaGrid and Veeam's GRID-based, scalable systems easily expand with growing volumes of data, leaving room for expansion. "Having the ExaGrid system in place completes the picture, so now our backup infrastructure can easily grow with our backup demands," McClain said.
ExaGrid uses a GRID-based configuration, so when the system needs to expand, additional appliances are attached to the GRID, bringing with them not only additional disk but also processing power, memory, and bandwidth. This type of configuration allows the system to maintain all the aspects of performance as the amount of data grows. In addition, as new ExaGrid appliances are added to the GRID, the ExaGrid automatically load balances available capacity, maintaining a virtual pool of storage that is shared across the GRID.
To read the complete U.S. Legal Support case study, please visit: http://www.exagrid.com/exagrid-customers/success-stories/
To learn more about ExaGrid, please visit: http://www.exagrid.com/video-play-pages/video-play/
About ExaGrid
Organizations come to us because we are the only company that implemented deduplication in a way that fixed all the challenges of backup storage. ExaGrid's unique landing zone and scale-out architecture provides the fastest backup - resulting in the shortest fixed backup window, the fastest local restores, fastest offsite tape copies and instant VM recoveries while permanently fixing the backup window length, all with reduced cost up front and over time. Learn how to take the stress out of backup at
http://www.exagrid.com or connect with us on LinkedIn. Read how ExaGrid customersfixed their backup forever.

WASHINGTON – Extensive nationwide research conducted by the agency-company council of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has found that small business owners (SBOs) strongly prefer independent insurance agents as they make choices in today's online world, but agents must take steps to continue to demonstrate their value and be more engaged online.

The research results are part of "Small Business Insurance & The Internet—The Voice of the Commercial Lines Customer," the latest project of PIA and The PIA Partnership, designed to provide independent insurance agents with tools to meet the new challenges posed by online providers and direct writers.

"Our results affirm that while small business owners continue to greatly value the professional advice and personal service of an independent agent, there is an expectation that their agent will be more capable of online interaction concerning their accounts and that the agency will have a fully credible online presence," said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker.

"This is both an affirmation and a wake-up call for agents," Becker said. "Commercial lines customers want agents as experts who are backed by the efficiency of the Internet."

The research project included qualitative focus group research, involving business owners and insurance decision-makers, conducted in multiple cities by research consulting firm The Pert Group; and quantitative research involving an online panel provided by Survey Sampling International, LLC (SSI), consisting of a random national sampling of 1,000 SBOs with companies of 50 employees or less.

Agents the Clear Choice

The research by PIA and The PIA Partnership also found that what is evolving over time is how some customers would like to see what they value delivered when it comes to their insurance in today's online business environment. This presents new opportunities for independent agents in how they reach and serve their customers.

The research found that choosing a Professional Independent Agent continues to be the clear preference for small business insurance decision-makers. The attributes that are most important to small businesses when it comes to their insurance are those offered by independent agents. These include:

  • Belief in the person or company
  • Having a person who understands my business
  • Quick service response
  • Personal attention
  • Providing me with confidence that I am making the right insurance decisions

"Much has been said and written about plans by companies such as Google attempting to challenge the dominance of independent insurance agents in commercial lines," said PIA National President Richard A. Clements. "That's why we asked commercial lines customers what they want. We found they want what we provide, and that they also want us to provide more. As for competition, I say what agents have always said: 'Bring it on!'"

The research found that just as agents have adapted to change in the past, that adaptability is being called for again today as SBOs and decision-makers routinely use the Internet for shopping, evaluating and improving the efficiency with which they communicate and gain and share information.

"Some studies backed by direct writers and captives had contended that buyers of small and midsize business owners policies (BOP) wanted to purchase such coverages online," said PIA Partnership Chairman John Petrucci. "We decided that a more objective picture of buyer preferences was required." 

"The message is clear," said Petrucci. "The Internet is here to stay. It is not the opponent of agents. But while it can be a source for competition, it can also provide an opportunity for agents when they use it to their own advantage. Responding is about evolution, not revolution.  The changes taking place in the marketplace provide an excellent opportunity for independent agents to increase their dominance in the CL market, but the one thing that is not an option for independent agents is inaction."

Among other findings:

  • In order to be competitive, independent agents must have a full, credible online presence.
  • Small business owners most value agents with professional, industry-specific knowledge.
  • Most small business owners who shop insurance online still lack confidence in themselves to make ideal insurance choices, and they want help.
  • Agents need to sell their value. Without more frequent demonstration of value, alternatives like bypassing the agent by going online will encroach further.

The research showed that even when the insurance process starts online, small business owners still want to depend on an agent to check and confirm, as well as validate and question assumptions. They overwhelmingly prefer such personal contact throughout the transaction.

Detailed research results, along with agent-specific recommendations and tools developed through this research, are being provided to all members of PIA nationwide by The PIA Partnership. 

This project is a follow-up to The PIA Partnership's "Voice of the Customer—Personal Lines," an extensive nationwide survey of personal lines insurance customers. It also clearly showed that consumers want what professional insurance agents offer: expert advice and counsel, personalized attention and interaction, the ability to offer comprehensive protection to meet individual needs and excellent "relationship-based" customer service.

The PIA Partnership, originally established as the Company Council of Executive Officers (CCEO) in 1996, is a group of insurance companies that work collaboratively with PIA National to conduct research and develop tools and resources designed to benefit professional independent insurance agents.

Current PIA Partnership companies include:  Encompass Insurance; Erie Insurance; Harleysville Insurance; Liberty Mutual Insurance; MetLife Auto & Home; Progressive Insurance; Selective Insurance Group; State Auto Group; The Central Insurance Companies; The Hanover Insurance Group; The Hartford; and The Motorists Insurance Group.

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA's web address is www.pianet.com.

The Business Continuity Institute, have recently published the BCI 20/20 UK Group White Paper entitled The Resilience Challenge for The Business Continuity Profession. In the foreword, Bill Crichton FBCI, identifies the necessity to,

“…raise the profile of business continuity and resilience among business leaders, while also demonstrating the increasing strategic value that business continuity and resilience practitioners will be able to bring to their organisations in the future.”

The document continues to identify necessities for business continuity practitioners to embrace resilience in order that, ‘organisations get to where they want to go (strategy) and do so in the manner of a desire (reputation, preservation of value)’. The paper goes on to identify the place of business continuity as integral to protective disciplines and in particular identifies the needs to show an increase in, ‘cross boundary collaboration, understanding of networked risks, and flexibility’. In order to achieve resilience within organisations six key practices are identified within the report:

“Become more aware of high-level goals; adopt interdisciplinary and cross functional engagement; communicate with other ‘protective disciplines’ in organisations; understand risks that may be overlooked by traditional practice; increase adaptive capacity and agility; and provide leadership.”

The author of the paper is Patrick Alcantara DBCI, an alumnus of Bucks New University, and here at Bucks we are glad to be able to offer the MSc Organisational Resilience programme to enhance the learning, professional skills and understanding of all business continuity practitioners (as well as practitioners in other relevant resilience professions) in order to meet this 20/20 vision of the BCI. Entry to the programme can be made either by previous undergraduate qualifications or by relevant experience in Business Continuity, Risk Management, Security Management or Emergency/Crisis Management.

The next presentation of this part-time, distance learning, MSc Organisational Resilience at Bucks New University commences in October 2015 and places are available for this start date. Please visit http://bucks.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate/MU1OGR9/ or e-mail owen.gregory@bucks.ac.uk for more information.

The BCI paper can be found at http://www.bcifiles.com/8thReport.pdf