Thursday, December 4, 2008

TIA Newsletter

The December edition of the TIA customer newsletter was just sent out to subscribers. If you would like to receive the newsletter, please send an e-mail to and we will add you to the distribution list.

The newsletter contains various information about the TIA product, company and community in general.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Configuration management

I'd really like a bit more feedback from the TIA community on my blog postings. Sometimes I am wondering if anyone is actually out there :-). I did see some of you on our International Partner Symposium Thursday/Friday last week, but there has to be more of you with an opinion!

To stir things up a bit - let me introduce a pretty interesting topic - configuration management.

In TIA we have the Workbench. This is a tool designed for many things (maybe too many actually). Among other things we are currently using it internally to manage the source code and configuration management of our releases.

Now - my question is - who amongst our customers and partners cares about the workbench? if so - what are you using it for - managing source code, customization and deployment?

Right now we are having many discussions internally in TIA about the Workbench and configuration management in general. Partly because we are growing significantly in terms of people involved in development, and partly because new Java components (other than PL/SQL object) are being introduced (which not necessarily are closely related to the Workbench).

What are your thoughts and comments to this topic? Do you care about the Workbench? Please post your comments to this article...

Friday, October 31, 2008

5.2 Service Pack 1 released

Just a quick note that service pack 1 for version 5.2 is now available for download at the TIA website.

The service pack contains a broad set of fixes as well as a significant update to the batch system.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Partnering for success

The TIA business model relies on strong partner alliances for implementing the TIA solution. One of the key reasons for the success of TIA can be contributed to this model, which provides the necessary scalability in terms of skills, resources and geographical spread.
In order for this model to work, we need our partners to be constantly up-to-date with our products, sales and services. We are seeking to achieve this in various ways, for instance by arranging specific events where we inform our partners about sales strategy, upcoming new product features and product development plans in general. Such an event is taking place this end of October in Copenhagen, where we expect a significant number of partners attending to learn about our plans in details.
If you are a TIA partner, please contact us if you would like to attend this event.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Software localization and TIA

A key part of our strategy at TIA – and one of the things which I believe differentiates TIA from many competitors is the uniqueness of a standard solution which can be used across many geographies. The reason for this is of course the ability to customize TIA, but just as important the level of localization of the product to fit local requirements.

Localizing a product as TIA, which is targeted at business processes is much more than merely translating the software. In fact, this is just the beginning. For a vertical solution targeting the insurance business, it is a key requirement that it fits well with local standards. This includes support of common interfaces, legislation, practices etc.

In order for TIA to handle this, the solution has from the beginning been architected in such a way that it is possible to create and maintain what is called “country layers”. A country layer is a collection of features supporting the requirements in a certain country or region.

The creation and design of a country layer is not a trivial exercise. It requires deep knowledge about the local practices combined with a solid insight into TIA. We are currently expanding our work in terms of building and supporting a number of country layers. This work is being carried out by TIA and selected partners providing local knowledge and product development skills.

Another aspect is specifically how these local features are developed and implemented. There are different strategies you can apply when doing this. One strategy, which we see happening with many competitors, is the development of local features in a one-off exercise with individual customers as an integral part of the customer implementation. By doing this, the customer will typically end up with a legacy product where the implemented code is not generic. There are many concerns about this method like no re-use, no portability of the code and low upgrade possibility of the standard solution.The right approach is to build a country layer in a generic way to be used for all customers in a certain country/region. This key to this is local functionality being coordinated and built into the standard solution. This in effect means that the standard solution eventually will include local functionality for all supported countries/regions - and it will enable the use of different local features across several countries/regions within one implementation. Only by having this approach you ensure re-use and eventually a lower cost and upgradeability. This approach is what we apply at TIA.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

IUG report #2

After spending two days in Riga with customers and partners I have a very good feeling about where TIA is going as a company as well as a product.

Delivering a conference with broad content focusing on the TIA solution was a deliberate choice from our side in TIA. Considering the feedback we have received so far it was a right one.

During the two days TIA employees delivered presentations describing new features relating to insurance specific processes as well as new technology advances for our Service Oriented Architecture. Based on the very positive reactions from the audience during the sessions, we definately believe we are moving in the right direction and doing the right things for partners and customers.

If you were in Riga, let me know your comments and thoughts as comments and stay tuned to my blog, which in a near future will have new topics around localization as well as insurance specific features.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

IUG report #1

The 7th annual TIA International User Conference has kicked off in Riga with presentations by the chairman of the board, Lars Lysdahl, CIO Alm Brand, Evalds Trucksans /IT and Operations Director AAS Balta and finally Morten B Stener, CEo Tia Technology who is currently speaking.

With a record number of participants of 180 people the scene is set for two very interesting days.

Lars Lysdahl opened the conference commenting on the past year seen from a customer and user group perspective. Some of the things Lars mentioned was focused at making this a fresh start with increased interaction between the user group and TIA technology in terms of product feedback and new development. The coming year will be dedicated to an effort revitalizing the regional user groups and strenghtening the community.

Evalds trucksans gave a very good introduction to Balta, the leading insurance company in the area and a user of the TIA solution. Evalds also gave a good insight into Latvia demographics and the historic perspective of the 800 years old town in Riga.

Morten Steiner is currently speaking giving an overview of TIA Technology's strategy, perspectives on focus areas and a general welcome to the TIA customers and partner.

There is no doubt that people are ready for more information and two exciting days. Stay tuned for further updates from the conference as we move forward.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

User Group Conference in Riga this week

As this is written most people at TIA is putting the final touch on the preparation for the 2008 user group conference in Riga. Some of us have already departed for Riga and the rest will follow tomorrow wednesday. We are very much looking forward to two exciting days packed with content about past, present and future of the TIA solution and community.

I will take this opportunity to remind you of the newly established discussion forums at Goggle Groups ( where we have prepared a forum for you to enter questions, comments, viewpoints etc. around the TIA solution and the conference in particular. TIA participants will monitor the discussions and reply as relevant.

In Riga we are announcing several new initiatives relating to the TIA solution - if you are participating you will definately get the opportunity to provide feedback and input for future development and enhancements to the solution.

Friday morning I will be presenting the keynote for TIA product strategy and throughout Thursday and Friday there will be lots of presentations detailing existing and future feature areas of TIA.

For those not present in Riga, stay tuned to this blog, I will certainly try to find time to report from the conference during the two days.

See you in Riga!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

OFF-SHORING; would you do it?

This week I went to Bangalore, India, to better understand aspects of off-shoring maintenance, development and test work within a software development team.
Bangalore is, as you may know, a central hub for a large population of well-educated, well-trained and ambitious engineers within software development.

In TIA we are considering how to tap into this in relation to our development work and not at least maintenance of the released versions.

Arriving at Bangalore it is clear that India is nowhere near anything like the small country of Denmark, from where TIA origins. The Indian population is huge, the chaos (at least in traffic as I saw it) quite overwhelming, but you also get the impression, that these are people who wants to achieve a lot. Ignoring the occasional cow that disturbs the flow of traffic, the strategy of the Indians seems to be to always look for the best way of moving forward and then just go. Every inch of asphalt is being used. The infrastructure of Bangalore still is leaving something to be wished for, but I did not see any real serious jams through the intersections…

The visit for me was a confirmation, that if you select the right partner you will not just get access to a pool of resources; there is a good chance that you may even learn a thing or two. The operations we saw was certified at CMMi level 5, had several thousand engineers residing in the buildings and hired another thousand people across it’s locations in India each month.
The point of this is that when considering using off-shoring resources it may actually not be a question of whether they are up to the task, but whether you are.

Previously the word has been that Indian IT resources may be technically good, but did not know posess any domain knowledge. As far as I can tell even this is quickly changing. Partly because specific domain knowledge is fast being built up through on-the-job training working with domain issues – also within Insurance. And partly because it seems to be getting increasingly more interesting for Indian born people who have been living and working abroad for many years, to return to their native country; and with that – bringing back strong experience and domain skills.

Off-shoring any work requires that you start with realizing you have to be very structured with your requirements. You should know and describe exactly what you need. Over the last 20 years I don’t think this has been the most popular way of developing software for many programmers. What the heck – let’s talk to the customer and write the code – it’s way more fun than writing documents. Well - I certainly understand why programmers would prefer to spend time writing code as opposed to writing documents. I actually think we should work hard to let them do just this – writing code. Which again basically means that we should have someone else writing the requirements specifications! And those guys need to understand the business. Being more strict and structured in the requirements work is a good thing whether considering off-shoring or not. But if you want to send work abroad and work with people trained and working at a CMMi level 5 you better be good at it.

Another aspect I was interested in was the approach around testing. In India testing seems to be just a prestigious career path as programming, with several skill levels from junior test engineers to highly esteemed test architects. This is definitely hard to find in the Nordic region, where it seems that many people find testing a second rang discipline. From my experience, there is absolutely nothing second rang about testing highly complex business solutions – especially within the Insurance industry. This requires a solid technical background mixed with a passion for quality, building and using the right toolsets and finding those highly costly bugs in the products.

My conclusion from the short visit to India is that we should strive to be able to tap into this pool of resources. And we should use it as a way to improve our own internal processes and turn software development even more into a predictable process. One where creativity is applied at requirements and design time, but not to actually getting the things coded, tested and brought to life. The latter are disciplines where you do not need creativity but predictability. And in the end this is what I believe customers are looking from their vendor. Predictable features, at a predictable time, in a predictable quality. And so – it’s all about predictability.

At TIA we will be using off-shoring going forward – would you?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Why independent user groups are a good thing for a software company

These days I am talking quite a lot to the national TIA user groups as well as our international user group. One of the topics we discuss is the relevance of a user group and what the focus of such a group should be. In TIA context our user groups have our customers as members. Naturally I can only have an opinion because as the software vendor TIA should not be driving the user groups. However my opinion is as follows.
Any professional software developer need and should want candid feedback about the products they put on the market as well as the plans for new products and enhancements. In fact, getting customer feedback and opinions should be priority one for the software vendor since it is a key relationship ensuring the right product. And as anyone knows - if you don’t have the right product someone else will - and you’re out.
I have sometimes met the following excuses for not listening to customers (although typically not said out lout) :
  • We know what they are going to say already
  • We don’t like what they are saying
  • We don’t want to raise false expectations and
  • We don’t want to commit to anything…
I think these are very common perceptions – not at least in developer communities populated by engineers who tend to know everything already – and I can safely say that because I am one myself. We are designing solutions behind our desks with our fingers bleeding, and by golly - if we could just be left in peace to get that final bug fixed!
The problem really is that even though engineers THINK they know everything, they of course really don’t. We may be smart as hell about many things, but with a profound wish to be left alone with the technical challenges, we typically overlook the most obvious stuff to (real world) users. To proof my point just think of the hype around Second Life . An imaginary world obviously designed by a bunch of engineers going crazy about the fantastic possibility of (non) interacting with other people whilst sitting alone behind their screen. No wonder these things come - and go again. Even engineers – most at least – prefer the blood and flesh from real people.
I believe there is an analogy to user groups here. Even though you can carry out surveys, support and similar things from the safe haven of your chair, you really need to talk directly to customers to understand the true priorities and concerns. This is where user groups are relevant and good for you as a software vendor. And they should of course be independent – shoving words down the throat of your users brings you absolutely nowhere. Organized well and inhabited by engaged members, as a software vendor you can count on getting the truth about your product – and you better listen. Even though you have heard it before, even though you do not like it and even though you really can’t commit to fix their problems at any time soon, you WILL be wiser listening and you SHOULD care.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Visiting IBM Forum La Gaude

Monday and Tuesday this week I was part of a small delegation visiting IBM’s industry solution center, IBM Forum La Gaude at La Gaude, Nice. The participants were representatives from selected Nordic insurance companies plus two of us representing TIA Technology. The focus of the visit was getting a glimpse into the possibilities when IBM applies its muscles to innovation in the insurance industry.

First of all I will make a short note - coming from many months of rain in Denmark visiting Nice in March was a nice change – including seeing the sun and the snow covered mountains. At least until I broke my glasses Tuesday night – after that most of the things at a distance got a bit blurred.

La Gaude is one out of several industry solutions centers across the world where IBM showcases its latest technology solutions within a variety of industries including insurance. During the two days we saw a selection of prototypes and sample applications relating to claims processing, call center applications, home surveillance solutions, tele health care, insurance sales processes and more. Everything put together by IBM in cooperation with several ISV’s and partners.

All in all a pretty impressive collection of demos from which I am sure all of the people watching could be inspired. The actual technologies behind the demos seemed to me to be available on the market today, the impressive thing was the time and effort it must have taken to put it together and make it work. Some of the underlying concepts I believe I saw put in use was web services, SMS gateways, RFID tracking, rich client applications using Eclipse, remote web cam surveillance, secure signature pads and more. The technologies were applied to insurance scenarios for claims processing, sales quoting and others.

Overall two interesting days and most relevant for insurance companies as well as us in TIA Technology to get an impression of what is available and possible for our customers today in terms of technology and innovation from IBM.

Finally I cannot help sending a thank to Anders from IBM how arranged the trip and especially the amazing experience in French cuisine Tuesday night, where a seven course dinner was served with several delicacies including Oyster ice cream (!), lamps feet and pork brain. Never have I tried anything quite like it :-).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A couple of weeks in the life at TIA Technology

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy at TIA. During January we have been working hard on customer cases and the last few weeks the activity level has been even higher stepping up our work with the next version of TIA.

Customer support push
Throughout January the entire development and support team have been focused at our customers and helping out resolving issues and cases on our released versions. A significant number of reported cases have been resolved and fixes are going into the coming service packs for version 5.0 and 5.2 respectively. We have been in close dialog with user groups as well as several customers directly and we appreciate the candid feedback we have got - which undoubtedly will help all customers going forward with solutions to known issues in several parts of the TIA application.

Upcoming TIA User Group seminar in Riga
Since my last posting we have sent out invitations to our user group seminar in Riga. If you are part of the TIA community you should have received this already. If not – let us know at In this year’s seminar you will get an opportunity to learn about most of the things we are working with at TIA – in product development, sales, support and more. We have planned an elaborate number of sessions with in-depth information about our product and development plans going forward. Additional we are planning to present a couple of key-note sessions with TIA speakers as well as select external speakers. Besides (what we believe) is a very interesting program you will also get an opportunity to link up with colleagues, friends and others from the TIA community in a social atmosphere. I hope to see you at the IUG 2008 in Riga.

TIA LinkedIn community group
Talking about the TIA community – if you are familiar with we have now created a LinkedIn group called TIA. If you are part of the TIA community either as a partner or customer, you are welcome to send a request to join this group at LinkedIn – it is a prerequisite that you are registered on LinkedIn. If you do so, the group participation will allow you to search and discover other members in the TIA community and enable you to link with those for business or other purposes. We hope you take advantage of this opportunity. Use this link to request participation:

In Riga we are also planning to demonstrate and disclose our detailed plan for the upcoming version of TIA. It will be focused at enabling integration of TIA in a heterogeneous IT infrastructure supporting service oriented architecture. We are currently deeply into the work of formalizing the TIA Service Catalog as well as preparing the first application using services exposed by TIA. If you are a customer looking to deploy TIA in a SOA environment or a partner needing to understand our strategy in this area you should definitely be at the Riga seminar to learn about the fundamentals.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

My first posting - getting started

I have now been at TIA Technology A/S for almost five months - the famous first 100 days+ are gone as fast as a formula one car...

During this period I have been focused at learning and understanding the insurance software business and - not at least - the TIA philosophy, challenges and opportunities. I won't say I've been through all there is to know, but then again I do believe I have picked up a few interesting points.

At TIA we are currently working hard at creating new exciting insurance solutions as well as focusing on enhancing our existing solutions on the market.

In the discussions we have with customers we find a common interest in industrializing the solutions in terms of terminology, processes and capabilities. For this reason we are (among others) spending time looking into IAA/CBM by IBM. The insurance application architecture and the component busines model is interesting because it provides a solid common ground for discussing how to fit into a service oriented architecture.

For the TIA solution and the "SOAfication" of the solution it is paramount to achieve the right level of granularity from the beginning. Not at least because the TIA solution is customizable. We are working on designing the next version of TIA to work in an SOA environment and applying common priciples for this (a good simple document to get an overview of these priciples can be found here.

Another topic we are considering these days is how to achieve a better access to and content for the documentation accompanying TIA. One of the tests we are currently running internally is making documentation available as a TIA Wiki. Any comments/suggestion you may have on this is highly appreciated.

We are also spending time preparing our annual user group seminar to be held in Riga, Latvia this time. End of May we are meeting with customers and partners to discuss common interests. This time the seminar will have a substantial content around the TIA solution and my team is dedicated to bring a lot of exciting sessions and presentations. Stay tuned for upcoming invitations to this event.

Finally - as this is my first posting regarding my work at TIA I am pretyy excited to see whether it is actually gaining interest among the TIA community. Therefore - if you have comments don't hesitate to respond through this blog.