Signal Insurance of Dortmund, Germany has announced that its powerful Allegro CL-based information system, currently in use by approximately 400 Signal sales representatives, will be installed for an additional 500 reps over the next three months. The Signal system, a sophisticated expert system running on laptop PCs, enables on-the-road salespeople to compute insurance premiums and perform benefit analyses at customer sites.
The Signal information system provides information to the customer representatives (on assets, policy offers, deadlines, etc.) and also computes premiums, drafts offers, and performs other knowledge-based tasks.
"For the insurance industry, this kind of system is important," says Project Manager Dr. Rolf Struve. "Insurance products are not visible and are therefore in need of special explanation, such as by showing the insurance benefits. What's more, the customer must participate in establishing the benefits by contributing personal information. So it's imperative that the analysis be done at the customer site."
Because each sales situation must be treated individually, the cost of sales can be sharply reduced with a knowledge-based information system that can help sales representatives gather personal information about the customer, and compute benefit analyses based on this and other data. Running the system on laptop computers enables the representatives to take their expert system on the road.
Allegro CL was chosen as the programming tool to build the insurance expert system. According to Dr. Struve, "Allegro CL proved to be a powerful development tool. Lisp is the most important language for knowledge-based systems in the world." Moreover, Struve says, the SIGNAL expert system is an excellent example of a Lisp application which runs as efficiently as C or C++ application packages of comparable complexity, but with much shorter development cycles and the flexibility to handle incremental changes easily.
"User feedback was important during the development of this system," says Struve, "and with Allegro we were able to incorporate user changes quickly and easily."
The Signal system has more than 900 objects at the start of each session, and several hundred units are also created dynamically. Despite its complexity, the system runs smoothly on notebook PCs with 8 MB RAM.
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