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NEOS Announces Strategic Partnership with Ness Technologies

Partnership gives insurers and financial services clients the best of both worlds by combining business acumen with technology “chops.”

Hartford CT – May 19, 2014 – NEOS, a management consulting firm that helps clients innovate business solutions to legacy problems, and Ness Technologies, a recognized global leader in software product and platform engineering, today announced a strategic partnership focused on the insurance industry’s need to solve critical business issues. NEOS will partner with Ness to integrate its deep insurance and business domain expertise with Ness’ industry-leading agile software engineering methods, providing insurance clients with the solutions needed to drive revenue, reduce cost, and provide exceptional customer service.

“The NEOS-Ness partnership was developed to fill a clear gap in the current consulting services landscape. By combining NEOS’ strategic business acumen with Ness’ unparalleled software engineering methods, we are presenting an extremely compelling consulting option to our insurance and financial services clients,” says Ernst Renner, NEOS Managing Partner. “Through this partnership we are better positioned to assist clients move beyond their legacy product, process, and system constraints.”

The collaboration between NEOS and Ness will focus initially on the Business Process Management (BPM) space, where over 50% of large system implementations regularly run significantly over budget and about 30% fail to deliver on the original business case. Proprietary NEOS methodologies will diagnose the vulnerabilities of in-flight implementations and, for clients still in the planning stages, will optimize the program for success. Ness Technologies’ proven agile development techniques will reduce the time to deployment, delivering business value and reducing Total Cost of Execution (TCE).

Mathew Lee, Sr. VP & GM for Global BFSI, Ness Software Engineering Services, noted that Ness’ industry-leading agile software engineering methods was the ideal match for NEOS’ extensive experience in the Insurance domain. He said, “Increasingly, we are seeing new avenues to apply our world class software engineering expertise, especially in the BFSI industry. The partnership with NEOS combines their deep business process expertise with our technology and innovation capabilities to help our clients gain competitive advantage. We are extremely excited about the value we can bring to our clients by working together.”

NEOS and Ness plan to extend the partnership to cover additional industries such as information media and healthcare.

About NEOS
NEOS is a management consulting and technology services firm specializing in the global insurance and financial services industries with deep experience in holistic modernization, enterprise data and business operations consulting. Clients range from large multi-line companies to more specialized providers. Solutions encompass legacy product and closed block management, operational and IT risk, and business-technology strategy. Services include process, organizational and operational consulting, enterprise architecture strategies and design, deployment and data analysis.

About Ness
Ness Software Engineering Services is a recognized global leader in software product and platform engineering. Ness is the partner of choice for companies who differentiate their products and services through commercial grade, value added software. Ness delivers competitive advantage through shorter time to market, more engaging user experience and higher productivity, drawing on more than a decade of product engineering expertise along with world class distributed agile practices, innovation through emerging technologies and cutting edge mobile experience engineering. Ness has cultivated long-term client partnerships with leading companies who value a culture of engineering excellence, transparency and co-innovation.

Ness employs 6500+ people who work alongside clients in North America, Europe and Asia and operate technology and design centers in India, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, UK, Israel and the U.S. Ness has more than 500 clients including many Fortune 1000 and Software 500 companies in key vertical markets including education, media & publishing, financial services, travel, transportation & entertainment, retail, sports, software and high end technology. Ness Software Engineering Services is a division of Ness Technologies, a private company fully owned by The Rohatyn Group.

Cyber-risk and Data Security: Business Risks Need IT Solutions


NEOS blog on cyber crime

Cyber-crimes include a wide variety of activities:

  • Hacking
  • Unauthorized data access
  • Corruption of data
  • Phishing

We live in a data-driven society, and no matter what your business operations are, you have cyber and data security risks. Attacks are on the rise; 2012 and 2013 saw big brand names like Target, Neiman Marcus, American Express, Visa, Citibank and Barclays dealing with significant breaches. In 2014, cybercrime definitely makes the Top 10 list of business risks that IT needs to plan for and mitigate.

Financial services and insurance companies are not immune to these attacks. IT departments are hard pressed to ensure that their companies’ data and systems are secure. Cyber-attacks are costly to consumers and companies. In fact, studies show that about 70 percent of customers would leave a company following a data breach. So how will your IT strategy defend your data and keep you cyber-secure? We agree with Benjamin Franklin, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so we offer 3 bytes (pun intended) of advice when creating, maintaining and updating your IT strategy:

  1. Design technology to support business processes, not the other way around.  Develop an “Enterprise Data Topology” or something similar. A data topology provides a complete view of data by following and mapping the data through the enterprise to explain its relationship to the business and how that data is supported in an organization’s systems.
  2. The devil is in the data details: Know your data, understand how data flows, and manage your data well. The increasing need for automation and cloud storage adds risk and small holes in your data flows, which can turn into costly and large issues. If you are not governing your data, start today.  Data Governance is an emerging discipline that refers to the overall management of the availability, usability, integrity and security of the data employed in an enterprise. Proper Data Governance provides consistency of data and business rules, increases speed-to-market, facilitates flexibility in product design, reduces costs and risks and ensures transparency of processes.
  3. To defend your data against attack, you need to be aware of the gaps and risks, big and small. Be realistic in this assessment and ask for help when needed, you will lose a lot more than data if a hacker finds your holes before you do.

At NEOS, we think a proactive approach to cyber risk is the only way to ensure security. Identify and close the gaps by sustaining direction, tracking progress and knowing when to seek outside assistance with your data management and/or overall IT strategy.

If you want to learn about the 4 additional IT risks NEOS practitioners have noticed affecting the insurance industry, download our whitepaper – Insurance IT Risks That Need to Stay at the Top of Your Business Agenda.

Observations at the Life Insurance Conference

With a theme like Stop Tweaking, Start Recalibrating!, you could assume that the 2014 Life Insurance Conference would have sessions indicating that the life insurance industry has some changes to make. The conference did not disappoint with its ability to match session topics to its theme. Many sessions provided valuable information and statistics that insurers can use to adapt to changing consumer demand and perceptions of the industry.

Life insurance companies as a whole struggle to adapt to changing consumer behaviors namely to the distribution shift toward seller beware mentality. Many insurance companies are still heavily relying on agents to sell policies, as they should, since the channel still holds a large share of sales specifically for higher value policies. However, insurance companies need to adapt to changing consumer behavior by offering a more diverse portfolio of sales channels.

As we all know in the last 10 years how we buy products and services has shifted with the introduction of social media on mobile apps. What we may not be aware of is our changing preferences to how we do business. Many who have done research into the matter on how insurance is purchased are learning that consumers want to go into a sales situation with all the information they can, mainly found on the internet, creating a seller beware mentality. The days of agents providing all the information to a potential customer and guiding them through the process are gone, instead replaced by consumers who are approaching agents with background knowledge and targeted questions.

The conference sessions stressed that the insurers who are embracing the change and adopting new sales methods are going to be more successful and less at risk.  Risk of disrupters entering the industry, which is slow to change, has companies becoming afraid of their inability to adopt new technologies and alter their sales strategy to life insurance being bought, no longer sold.

Overall, attendees left the conference with the knowledge of how consumer trends are changing and the perspectives of insurance executives who are at the forefront of innovation.

Observations at the Retirement Industry Conference

The retirement industry conference had a similar theme as the life insurance conference held directly prior. The same sales shift was again a prominent theme with the difference being how it would directly influence the retirement industry and sales of retirement products.  Highlighting and identifying how the millennial generation would fair when faced with saving for retirement based on their generation’s characteristics and spending history was a key differentiator.

What was unique at the Retirement Industry Conference was the importance of financial education to the industry. Many sessions highlighted the need for companies to increase transparency and build trust with the consumer.  One method of relationship management is providing educational services beyond what brokers have provided in the past with product education. By educating potential clients at an early age, the importance of saving is conveyed and understood.

Prior financial knowledge will ultimately lead to product sales through financial planners and the desire to financially plan. One speaker even made the distinction between two ways companies use educational programs. She stressed that companies could adopt financial literacy programs in order to compete with others who already offer the service or could take the program beyond what others provide to increase their competitive advantage. Either way on some level, financial literacy programs are becoming necessary to the retirement industry and those companies operating within.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

4 Steps to the Right KPIs


key performance indicator dartboard

Too often, organizations prematurely embrace what they think is the right list of KPIs. They spend a great deal of time and money extracting data, building database and dashboards, only to realize that the effort does not produce the expected results. Management should take the time to focus on what metrics to use and why. The result provides the foundation for success going forward. Taking the time to understand problems thoroughly, to appreciate why metrics are important to monitor, and to comprehend how this insight will contribute to efforts to change and address poor results is key to creating a useful and productive dashboard.

Management should plan to focus on four areas as they build the list of KPIs: problems, critical paths, drivers and competitors.

  1. Problems: First and probably most important, ask what is the problem we are trying to solve? Managers may be able to identify the problem, but not really understand what it is. Take the time to define all aspects to gain a thorough understanding. Otherwise, determining the proper KPIs may be a waste of time.
  2. Critical Paths: Next, look at your business critical paths. What is critical to running your business? Refine this thought process further by clarifying what information is critical to running your business successfully. Management should encourage this activity by brainstorming around more specific questions such as “Is it more than just the financials or forecasting?” Taking the time to dig as deep as possible through this initiative is time well spent. Failing to align the critical path and the problem you have identified can result in inaccurate goals and wasted time.
  3. Drivers: Organizations must understand business drivers for the continued success and growth of the company. Yet, while the question is simple, “What are the main drivers of your business?” the answers are not as straightforward. Management may say that close ratios, net cash flow, revenues, turnover rate and customer satisfaction are the primary drivers, but the key to understanding those examples is identifying what processes and data roll up into those drivers. Again, time spent in analysis here means time and effort saved in the end.
  4. Competitors: Lastly, competitive exploration can be helpful. What are your competitors measuring as best as you can gather? Further, what measures are critical to them and why? This data can guide companies to areas they might not have otherwise considered.

The next exercise in building the list of KPIs is to further analyze why these metrics are important. For example, brainstorm and discuss why each metric is critical, why measuring it will contribute to achieving business goals and why it will provide insight into what needs to be adjusted.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Top 6 Reasons to Leverage SAAS as Part of Your IT Strategy

JavaScript code over keyboard What if companies could sign up for software when they want it, add or subtract users on demand, and switch to new software when requirements change? What if, instead of each company managing its infrastructure separately, many companies subscribed to one infrastructure provider with lower costs because of economies of scale? This is how the logic went for the implementation of software as a service (SaaS) when Marc Benioff (or Larry Ellison or a number of others, the debate over who actually gets credit is ongoing) first thought it up years ago. Not everyone was immediately persuaded, but now the case for implementing SaaS is strong and getting stronger. NEOS has identified the top reasons companies are choosing to employ SaaS as an important IT strategy.

SaaS Lets IT Work on Innovation

Companies who innovate will set themselves apart from their competition. SaaS lets companies worry less about the technology and more about the functionality, freeing up costly resources to drive creativity. NEOS’s Randall Love maintains, “SaaS will allow a company to focus its efforts and investments on those activities that do provide a competitive advantage.” Instead of maintaining and supporting an application, as it becomes a legacy system, the IT team can focus on continuing to build business capability through technology innovation, deploying sometimes limited financial and human resources towards more value-added activities.

More Beneficial Vendor/Buyer Relationship

Companies benefit in many ways from an improved and more favorable relationship with their SaaS vendor. SaaS providers must maintain strong, productive relationships with their customers and deliver consistent benefits to keep their customers in the competitive SaaS market. Andy Meigs, NEOS Consultant, points out that “vendors are far more accountable for the quality of their product and the client relationship with SaaS since they need to persuade you of their value constantly instead of just one time up front.” SaaS vendors have incentive to provide higher levels of support for their products, meet or exceed SLAs, and work proactively with their customer.

Faster Productivity

Getting a group of users to full productivity is often the greatest challenge in a software implementation. Traditional implementation of software costs money and takes a lot of time. SaaS eliminates many of the tasks associated with infrastructure and environment, reducing cost and accelerating the timeline to full productivity. SaaS vendors will often provide support and resources, such as a help desk or advanced training to help a company’s user population engage and use the software correctly.

Reduced Risk

Incorporating SaaS as a part of your overall IT strategy contributes to reducing risk in three important ways. 1) The SaaS model makes it easier to conduct a proof of concept before buying enabling companies to ensure a good fit before committing, and is a tremendous risk reducer. 2) By definition, SaaS enables you to switch providers, making the choice of SaaS vendors less risky. 3) SaaS contributes to disaster recovery and business continuity planning because a vendor’s hardware and infrastructure is generally more geographically distributed.

Lower Costs

The SaaS model offers lower up front cost by nature. SaaS implementations do not require the extensive hardware setups or as much customization as a traditional purchase and on-site deployment. The total cost of ownership can be lower with SaaS as well. By slashing upfront costs and passing on in-house maintenance costs to the vendor, research has shown that SaaS often comes out cheaper overall. Furthermore, the cost and effort associated with implementing upgrades is usually much lower in SaaS setups. Based on one study conducted by Hurwitz & Associates Research, the total cost of ownership for a SaaS corporate performance management solution is a much as 77 percent lower than comparable on site solutions.

Latest and Greatest

Many companies currently use legacy applications or systems to perform their business functions. Due to the cost and difficulty of upgrading, some companies find themselves unable to upgrade on a routine basis they fall behind on releases by a few or even more. SaaS allows for upgrades that are less resource intensive for companies allowing them to get the latest versions and updates that solve some of the functionality issues with the software, leading to more business value and capabilities.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

NEOS to Host Webinar on Key Performance Indicators

Webinar brings together business and IT leaders to discuss performance metrics.

NEOS LLC, a management consulting and technology services firm, will host a webinar , “KPI’s – Actionable metrics or Colorful Graphics?” on March 18th at 12pm EST.

NEOS will gather industry leaders to discuss their experiences with making Key Performance Indicators meaningful and actionable. Brian Harris, Senior Strategy Consultant at NEOS, Kimberly Dornisch, PMP, KPIwebinarpanelistsProgram Manager at Catlin Group, and Jason Frain, Retirement Product Development Leader, will discuss the challenges, successes and lessons learned from their combined 75 years of experience. In addition, Brian Harris will speak to the differences found across industries and how to avoid common pitfalls.

The explosion of retained data challenges companies to turn their data into actionable information or KPIs. According to Harris, many companies make mistakes in five common areas when approaching the development of metrics. At the end of the webinar, attendees will have a grasp on what has worked for other companies and what to avoid when developing their metrics.

“Anyone challenged to track performance will benefit from this webinar,” says Scott Witter, Senior Principal at NEOS. “Our panelists will share real world tips and lessons on how to avoid wasting time and resources with inefficient and unusable metrics.” As the moderator of the webinar, Scott looks forward to taking questions from the webinar attendees. “We’ve got a balanced set of panelists who can speak to all perspectives: business, technology, and executive leadership.”

This webinar is part of a series of NEOS hosted webinars focusing on a variety of topics within the financial services, insurance and information media industries. Previous webinars have addressed topics such as gaining value from closed block portfolios and leveraging processes to reduce operational risk. The webinar series includes experts from across industries to maximize value to attendees.

NEOS to Speak at NYOUG’s Spring General Meeting

NEOS’ Rob Nocera will explain his experience with ADF.

Rob Nocera, Partner at Vgo Software/NEOS, will deliver his presentation on “Drinking the Kool Aid – How I became an ADF believer” at the New York Oracle Users’ Group (NYOUG) spring meeting on March 12. The meeting is one of the organization’s annual events to exchange ideas, assistance and support among users of Oracle software products.

Nocera’s presentation will cover Oracle’s Application Development Framework (ADF) and the benefits provided if the right organization or the right developer takes advantage of all ADF has to offer. Nocera will discuss pros and cons of ADF from a Java perspective by explaining his background and his approach when beginning to work with ADF. The presentation best suits those considering ADF as an architecture.

“I talk a lot about myself during this presentation because I want to explain my point of view and where I am coming from. As a developer, I would typically choose a path with more control, which is not always a good thing. I opened my eyes to the possibilities of ADF programming, the great productivity boosts that allow you to concentrate on the 20% of the application that is complex and leave the 80% of the routine stuff to the framework. I want people to take away from this presentation what ADF can do for them if it is the right fit,” says Nocera.

Nocera has previously spoken at NYOUG’s spring meeting and other oracle user group conferences. Nocera is currently a partner at NEOS and Vgo software, which he co-founded in 2001. Since the establishment of the companies, Nocera has led many tools-assisted modernization efforts for global corporations.


The New York Oracle Users Group (NYOUG) was founded in 1984 for the exchange of ideas, assistance and support among users of Oracle software products. The organization consists solely of volunteer users, consultants and vendors of Oracle-related products and services. The organization holds four meetings a year and provides newsletters that feature both technical and business-oriented information from a variety of sources.

For more information visit

Keep on Track with Key Performance Indicators – KPI Identification


“One of thNEOS blog keep on track with key performance indicatorse overarching problems that caused performance management efforts to fail in 2013 was corporations’ lack of focus,” according to Senior Strategy Consultant, Brian Harris. The two major ways companies lack focus is by either tracking the incorrect number of metrics (too many or too few) or simply collecting the wrong metrics.

While the number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) varies depending on the size and industry of the company, most global corporations track between 12 and 20 metrics. Using this range as a guideline helps eliminate wasting time and financial resources spent on gathering too many metrics, while providing enough information to analyze the performance of the organization or initiative at hand. The number of KPIs may adjust slightly as your program develops and modernizes over time.

Management should focus on the metrics that best encourage the desired behaviors they want to see when prioritizing KPIs. When corporations derail from their overall business strategy, it becomes unclear exactly how the organization is performing. The predictability quality of a KPI depends on how well a corporation’s strategy is aligned to the metrics the performance indicator is trying to measure.

Once your KPIs are in place, take the selected vital few KPIs aligned with the strategy and benchmark performance against the industry to set targets. These targets should be visible to all levels of the organization to create accountability. When targets are transparent, staff members are able to compare their departmental and personal progress with corporate exceptions.

Following these precautions and best practices will help identify bottlenecks to ensure your performance stays on track. To learn Brian Harris’s 4 other KPI common mistakes, watch his webcast on “Top 5 Performance Management Pitfalls”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

NEOS Webcast Series: Road to Success with Key Performance Indicators

NEOS discusses five common mistakes with performance indicators during webcast.

NEOS LLC, a management consulting and technology services firm, has posted the first in a series of webcasts focused on Key Performance Indicators (KPI), executive dashboards and how they affect businesses.

In this first webcast, Brian Harris, Senior Strategy Consultant at NEOS, addresses the five most common mistakes companies make when embarking on a KPI effort. This webcast helps keep companies’ expectationsKPI webcast of KPIs from falling victim to common mistakes, specifically when the correct questions are not asked upfront. The webcast titled Top Five Performance Management Pitfalls is now available.

During the webcast, Brian discusses ways to avoid the mistakes he has witnessed other companies make. According to Harris, companies lack focus, do not choose credible or quantitative metrics, put too much focus on perfection or make access to data too complicated. The webcasts touch on best practices used to avoid these mistakes as well as how NEOS, the management consulting firm Brian represents, approaches KPIs and metrics.

Scott Witter, Vice President at NEOS, says, “Having been in the role of a CIO supporting the requests for KPIs, the pitfalls that Brian has outlined are very true. As he indicates, taking the time to understand what you want to measure and what you will do with the data is critical. NEOS is able to leverage its KPI Discovery Methodology to assist our clients in avoiding these issues and delivering a value-added solution”.

The rest of NEOS’ webcast series on KPIs will provide more information on which indicators to concentrate on and deeper dives into the benefits provided to executives.

5 Ways to Turn Your Business Processes into Business Assets


NEOS Business Process

The most successful companies figure out how to leverage their processes to become business assets, even when there is no clear ownership within the organization for managing business processes. Here are 5 ways you can help your organization be one of those companies.

Process inventory lists. A list of relevant core business processes at the highest level. It enables everyone to speak the same language when discussing processes and their characteristics. From prioritizing needs to scoping projects or making organizational and role decisions, this provides enough information to be useful without unnecessary or overwhelming detail. According to Gartner, using “visual perspectives of processes helps people to see the inefficiencies and identify opportunities for improvements.”

Process scorecard. Rating business processes according to an organization’s strategic priorities and objectives. This approach engages stakeholders from across the enterprise and integrates diverse perspectives into a carefully crafted rating. This is a best practice used by successful companies all over the world.

Process design/re-design. An effort to provide a deep understanding of current state or a deep focus on defining the desired future state. To understand current state, subject matter experts document baseline metrics, understand process rules, and map existing processes based on a process inventory before beginning future state process design. A combination of individual interviews and group rapid design sessions help to design future state processes.

Process Control Topology (PCT). An approach that provides a view into how controls, business process, and application architecture cooperate to achieve compliance with regulatory and risk management requirements. Unlike traditional BPM approaches, where the object is cost reduction, service improvement, or streamlining, a Process Control Topology focuses on the institutionalization of controls across process and system.

Controls analysis. A way to determine where your processes may have too many, not enough, or the wrong controls based on non-negotiable rules imposed by internal or external regulatory entities (e.g., SEC, compliance departments, customer contracts, product designs).

NEOS has expertise in implementing these tools with great success. We can help your organization better understand its business processes and how to turn them into assets.[/vc_column_text]



Leveraging Business Processes to Reduce Operational Risk

Wednesday, December 11 at 11 a.m. EST

Everybody has operational risk. If you have operations, then you have operational risk.

The webinar discussion will focus on getting at operational risk through your business processes. We will define some basic terms and talk about an approach to prioritizing the risk assessment effort based on your specific situation. At the end of the webinar, you will walk away with a better understanding of how leveraging your business processes helps you mitigate the people, process, or technology risks that keep you up at night.


Operational Risk eBook

Organizational risk exists in every organization. Even yours. Read our new eBook to learn how to best manage your company’s operational risk.[/vc_column_text]

Connecticut Technology Council 2013 IT Summit
NOVEMBER 15th, 8:30 am – 3:30 pm

Topics this year include Big Data Analytics, the Cloud for SMBs, Digital Marketing, and Enterprise Social Networking. A CIO panel discussion will include a discussion about how the role of the CIO has changed.

Click here to read more and register.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]

Business processes are either liabilities or assets, depending on how you define, control, and manage them. According to a June Gartner report titled ‘Successful Approaches to Business Process Improvement,’ “90% of organizations are early on their BPM journeys and still struggling to apply BPM as an enterprise program. Changing organizations toward higher levels of appreciation for business processes as an essential corporate asset remains a slow and difficult undertaking.”

Upcoming Webinar on Operational Risk

NEOS LLC to host webinar on leveraging business processes to reduce operational risk

Hartford, CT – November 21, 2013 – NEOS LLC, a business consulting and technology services firm with unparalleled experience in business and technology transformation efforts, announces the availability of a free webinar on “Leveraging Business Processes to Reduce Operational Risk” on December 11, 2013 at 11am EST.

Carla Gregory, VP of Consulting Operations at NEOS, along with Patty Kurlansky, an independent financial services professional, and Jill Vancour, CPA, Director and Risk Manager at MassMutual Financial Group opriskwill discuss mitigating operational risk through your business processes.

The panelists will define basic terms leading to a conversation around developing an approach to prioritizing the risk assessment effort based on specific situations. At the end of the webinar, attendees will walk away with a better understanding of how leveraging your business processes helps mitigate the people, process, or technology risks that could be threatening your companies.

Operational risk exists in every organization, coming from internal resources that are imperfect. These imperfections create the potential for losses to arise from errors and ineffective operations. Depending upon the infraction caused by unknown risk, a company can suffer fines, loss of revenue, or reputational damage. The size of the loss organizations accept will determine their depth of operational risk.

“This webinar will provide valuable insight to professionals allowing them the opportunity to get ahead of the potential problems that are within their framework. When you have large amounts of employees, processes, and technology, it is easy for things to get uncoordinated. All pieces need to work together to control risk, but it is not always obvious where the risk lies. We come in to point where processes are not working collaboratively,” said Carla Gregory.

This is the second in a series of NEOS hosted webinars focusing on a variety of topics within the financial services, insurance and information media industries. The previous webinar “Harvesting Value from Closed Blocks of Business” offered different perspectives on the process of deciding how to gain value out of a block of business that no longer sells. The webinar series includes experts from across industries to maximize value to attendees.

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