Thursday, September 26, 2019

2019-09-25 Wednesday - InsureTech Connect 2019 - Day #3

Day #3 of InsureTech Connect 2019, Las Vegas, NV

[I'm writing this entry on Thursday morning, back aboard my sailboat, on the Pacific Ocean - having departed Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon] 

(I'm still working on writing-up some pieces for the interview noted below - this posting will continue to be updated with notes from my conversations with attendees and company representatives that I met at their respective booths...)

  • Interview session with Sid Wadhwa, Managing Partner and Co-founder at NV Insurance Group LLC
    • "Coming Soon... Tomorrow's Digital MGA today"
  • Other members of NV Insurance Group LLC that were present:
    • Hari Kanangi, Managing Partner and Co-founder at NV Insurance Group LLC
    • Anupam Mittra, Managing Partner and Co-founder at NV Insurance Group LLC
    • Shreya Wadha, Marketing and Development
  • The company is self-funded.
  • Sid stressed that his company is still in stealth mode - and thus was not able to share specific details (yet).  I look forward to some follow-up conversations with Sid and his team - and may have some additional details to share over the next 6-18 months, as they continue to plan, elaborate, and execute. 


I spent the majority of the morning in the Exhibition Hall - having many, many interesting conversations with company representatives in their respective vendor booths - as well as the serendipitous meetings that happened in the break areas - and around the coffee service tables.

(many additional notes from vendor booth visits to be added here, today...)

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Ideas and Suggestions for InsureTech Connect 2020
  • On Tuesday evening, "Birds of a Feather" type open discussion topic sessions could be scheduled to allow those who have a shared specific interest/focus to meet, network, and share their experiences/solutions. A few examples of possible topic sessions to suggest, with an emphasis on topics of particular interest to Information Technology attendees:
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • Machine Learning
    • Data Analytics
    • Open Source Software
    • Cloud Computing
    • IoT
  • Another possible idea for Tuesday evening, "5 Minute Lightning Talks" - is an idea from the world of information technology conferences - that I think might very well resonate with many of the attendees. Conceptually, you could have a a 2-hour block of time (say 7-9pm), with 5 minutes blocks available for anyone to sign-up to give a talk - with different tracks dedicated to different rooms (e.g. agency management, policy administration, distribution, compliance, governance, privacy, security, cloud computing, open source software, machine learning, IoT, etc.)
  • To simplify the Registration process, allow attendees to print their passes prior to arriving - and simply hang Lanyards with ID Badge Holders all along the walls of the registration area. 
    • Although I would be tempted to consider suggesting a mobile app for the Conference ID - dead mobile phone batteries would generate more disruption to traffic flow (getting into sessions) than the simple process of attendee-printed badges.
    • A tip of the hat to Joseph Keller for the idea of pre-staging the lanyards along the walls.
  • One problem with the very, very long  registration line this year was that no one seemed to be aware that there were registration queues on more than one side of the registration kiosk.  Everyone, unaware, was in line to the first person at the registration kiosk - all they had to do was peel off and begin joining the much shorter queues going all the way around to the far side of the kiosk.
  • Perhaps breaking the registration kiosk up into multiple locations, with designated last name ranges (A-D, E-G, etc.) would be helpful. 
  • Automate the networking app - so that when one person (a) expresses an interest in connecting - and the other person (b) responds - an automatic invitation to connect is initiated via a LinkedIn API request, from (a) to (b).

General Concluding Thoughts on InsureTech Connect 2019
  • Consistently, the response from the dozens of attendees that I asked - everyone reported a very positive conference experience. 
  • Vendors consistently commented that the traffic to their booths was better than they had hoped - and for those booth representatives who had attended previous ITC conferences in years past - they consistently reported that this year was even better than last year.
  • The conference is an exceptional networking event for insurance professionals.  I heard one estimate that this year's conference may have had as many as ~7,500 attendees (the reported number for the 2018 event was ~6,000)
  • The MGM Grand Conference Center was an excellent choice of venue for this event. The exhibition hall is enormous - and was well laid out. 
  • The number of vendors with booths in the exhibition hall was almost overwhelming. Several times, my poor aching feet gave out long before my mental curiosity was satisfied. 
  • Although I didn't have an opportunity to try the breakfasts that were served - the lunches were excellent. 
  • Regrettably, I wasn't able to stay for "The Official After Party Featuring Billy Idol"

Source: Fedex

Since all of the rooms in the MGM Grand were sold out by the time my travel plans were ready to be finalized - I opted to go ultra-spartan for this trip. Convenience was my primary decision criteria. For the very frugal (and brave of heart), note that I was able to book four nights at the Motel 6 across the street from the convention center - for $266. This offered the shortest walking distance to the conference.


Tuesday, September 24, 2019

2019-09-24 Tuesday - InsureTech Connect 2019 - Day #2

Day #2 - of InsureTech Connect 2019, Las Vegas, NV
(I'm still working on writing-up some pieces for the interviews noted below - this posting will continue to be updated...)

Today has been a mix of 1:1 interviews with vendors - and wandering through the exhibition hall - and allowing serendipity to guide me in discovering interesting vendor conversations.




  • Exhibit Hall Conversations...



  • Interview with Michael F. Wilson Head of Product Marketing, Insurance, Cognizant   


While in Las Vegas, a former colleague happened to also be attending a separate conference - and we arranged to meet for dinner - his company is focused on privacy compliance - which may be of particular interest to insurance technology executives: 

Press Release News Items:

Some photos from today:

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

2019-09-23 Monday - InsureTech Connect 2019 - Day #1

Day #1 - of InsureTech Connect 2019, Las Vegas, NV

(I'm still working on writing-up some pieces for the interviews with Gary and Bassam below - this posting will continue to be updated...)

I arrived late yesterday afternoon (Sunday) in Las Vegas. Checked into my hotel, near the MGM Grand - and walked over this morning for a 9am interview with Gary Hoberman, Founder and CEO of Unqork.

[Listening to Gary expound on his company's vision and mission was one of the most inspiring experiences I've had - not only while attending InsureTech Connect 2019 - but, probably in the last year.]

Unqork was founded in 2016 - and offers a cloud-based, no-code solution, with a market focus on Insurance, Financial Services, and Real Estate. A few interesting notes from my background research and  interview with Gary:

  • Their Glassdoor employee reviews are quite interesting (14 reviews, 100% Recommend to a friend, and 100% Approve of CEO)
  • Goldman Sachs is both a customer - and a lead investor (April 2019, $22M series A round)
  • They have about 150 employees
  • Interestingly, their software development is done entirely in-house, in New York. 
  • Given their  stated position on not participating in RFPs (see their FAQ), I had assumed that they might have a market focus on the lower end of a target revenue size for their prospective clients - however, Gary surprised me with a few interesting facts:
    • Their first customer writes over $48B in annual premiums
    • None of their insurance customers write less than $1B in annual premiums.
  • Gary mentioned that his view is that "...the idea of a policy admin system is flawed".  This requires a bit more explanation - which I will expand on in the next day or so - but is it a teaser for you - of the radical and disruptive thinking that is embedded in the DNA of Unqork's approach to solving the historical problems/costs/challenges/delays in building information systems for the insurance industry.
  • An astounding claim: They were able to port the PCE application for a client in Bogota, Columbia (22 products & riders) in 7 weeks.
I'll have more information to share from my interview with Gary - as well as my deeper dive technical discussion with Unqork's CTO, Bassam Chaptini.A quick summary of their technology stack:
  • Cloud deployment  is supported on Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and Amazon (AWS)
  • The application is primarily written in JavaScript - for both the front-end, and back-end.
  • JSON is heavily used in the application architecture - and is stored in MongoDB. 

I attended the conference as an official representative of the media contingent:

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

The line to get to the registration desk was quite long...this process might benefit from an application of some technology.  :)

Note: This was the view, after working our way ~50% through the queue... 

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

While in line, I had the great pleasure of meeting Joseph Keller, Associate Counsel, Westmont Associates, Inc.  I appear to have misplaced the business card of one of Joseph's associates that I also met (my apologies) - I will update this with her information as soon as I can find it.  Later, I also had the chance to meet Logan Marro, Vice President.
"Westmont brings an unparalleled team of seasoned professionals, including contract/compliance specialists, attorneys, claims experts, accountants and actuaries. Our senior staff possesses insurance company experience and also includes former regulators. The principals on our staff have been senior executives at insurance companies throughout the U.S. We understand your internal issues and goals and we appreciate how regulatory decisions will impact the rest of your corporation."
Services offered by Westmont Associates, include Corporate Producer Licensing/Individual Producer Licensing.

Folks were still arriving throughout the day...

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks


  • I was fortunate to have the chance to catch-up with Vishal Garg, Sr. Enterprise Architect Data, Digital and Innovation at Farmers Insurance, over dinner. Vishal is a friend, and former colleague. 
Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

  • Cambridge Mobile Telematics hosted an event at the MGM Grand's Topgolf, with professional golfers David Feherty and John Daly
  • One of the best sponsored events I've ever attended at a conference. Great venue, FANTASIC food served. 
  • Reminder to self: I need to follow-up with CMT - and coordinate some time to interview some of their executive leadership team. 
Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Photo by Kelvin D. Meeks

Friday, September 20, 2019

InsureTech Connect 2019, Las Vegas

Source: ITC 2019 Brochure

I will be in Las Vegas, September 23-25, 2019 - for the InsureTech Connect 2019 Conference.

I'm attending as a member of the Media (as a freelance journalist) - with gratitude to the InsureTech Connect organizers who have graciously agreed to provide me with a Media Pass. 

My writing focus will be on three areas:
  1. Interesting new and innovative technologies showcased by start-ups (with a particular interest in any Open Source contributions);
  2. Examples of adoption of artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, robotics - by larger enterprises (success - as well as lessons learned/failures);
  3. Profile pieces on interesting start-up/founder stories.

I'll be posting articles to this blog, as well as to the following LinkedIn insurance-related groups:

Additionally, I will be writing news articles for submission (on speculation) to a number of other publications, such as:
  • Forbes 
  • CIO
    • This may be a bit more of a challenge, as I just learned "does not publish contributed articles" - but, I have contacted Amy Bennett, Executive Editor.
  • ...and others, based on the particular topic/slant  (e.g. Open Source, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Robotics, etc.)

Monday, September 09, 2019

2019-09-09 Monday - Book: The Data-Centric Revolution: Restoring Sanity to Enterprise Information Systems

Dave McComb, President of Semantic Arts, has very graciously provided me with a copy of his latest book to review: "The Data-Centric Revolution: Restoring Sanity to Enterprise Information Systems".

I've previously worked with Dave in the past, on a mutual client's Enterprise Architecture initiative. I have a high regard for Dave's thought leadership - and am looking forward to diving into his book. I will post a follow-up with a link to my review, in a week or so.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

2019-09-03 Tuesday - Notes on Learning WebAssembly

I've setup a new github repository to organize my notes on learning more about WebAssembly:

Some of the best talks I've found on YouTube about WebAssembly, are by Lin Clark:

2019-09-02 Monday - Future Research Project: ML Applied to Enterprise Architecture Diagrams

After reading the two research papers below, I have some thoughts on a possible future ML research problem I would like to explore.

This posting is a placeholder for me to organize notes, thoughts, and gather additional background reading material.

Problem Space/Conditions/Assumptions:

  1. For a given organization, their collection(s) of Enterprise Architecture diagram images are created with a variety of non-homogeneous tools/icons - over time, by different authors (internally, and externally) - resulting in different file formats being used (e.g. Google Diagrams, PowerPoint, LucidCharts, Visio, JPEG, PNG, BMP, etc.)
  2. Enterprise Architecture diagrams that are stored in image file formats - and do not rely upon a shared repository - and a reusable element-level inventory definition - require extensive manual effort and time to analyze for impact analysis.


Leverage ML algorithms to:
  1. Automate the process of transforming disparate Enterprise Architecture diagrams (in various source file formats) - into a standard machine-readable meta file format (e.g. Sparx EA XMI).
  2. Specifying an industry standard modeling notation for use in the target output meta file format (e.g. UML, ArchiMate, etc.)
  3. Automatically analyze diagrams - and identify possible categorization relationships between elements/components (organize? or, suggest categorization?) - by inferred organization/application/system boundaries
    • e.g. from a collection of dozens, or hundreds of diagrams - identify candidate elements that may represent reusable components, or that may be repeated across diagrams, or that may be candidates for reusable components (or, shared services)

Research Papers (Background Reading): (work-in-progress...)

Paper: New trends on digitisation of complex engineering drawings

  • Neural Computing and Applications
  • June 2019, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1695–1712
  • Authors: Carlos Francisco Moreno-García, Eyad Elyan, Chrisina Jayne
  • Abstract: "Engineering drawings are commonly used across different industries such as oil and gas, mechanical engineering and others. Digitising these drawings is becoming increasingly important. This is mainly due to the legacy of drawings and documents that may provide rich source of information for industries. Analysing these drawings often requires applying aset of digital image processing methods to detect and classify symbols and other components. Despite the recent significant advances in image processing, and in particular in deep neural networks, automatic analysis and processing of these engineering drawings is still far from being complete. This paper presents a general framework for complex engineering drawing digitisation. A thorough and critical review of relevant literature, methods and algorithms in machine learning and machine vision is presented. Real-life industrial scenario on how to contextualise the digitised information from specific type of these drawings, namely piping and instrumentation diagrams, is discussed in details. A discussion of how new trends on machine vision such as deep learning could be applied to this domain is presented with conclusions and suggestions for future research directions."

Paper: Learning icons appearance similarity

  • (Submitted on 1 Feb 2019)
  • Authors: Manuel Lagunas, Elena Garces, Diego Gutierrez
  • Abstract: "Selecting an optimal set of icons is a crucial step in the pipeline of visual design to structure and navigate through content. However, designing the icons sets is usually a difficult task for which expert knowledge is required. In this work, to ease the process of icon set selection to the users, we propose a similarity metric which captures the properties of style and visual identity. We train a Siamese Neural Network with an online dataset of icons organized in visually coherent collections that are used to adaptively sample training data and optimize the training process. As the dataset contains noise, we further collect human-rated information on the perception of icon's similarity which will be used for evaluating and testing the proposed model. We present several results and applications based on searches, kernel visualizations and optimized set proposals that can be helpful for designers and non-expert users while exploring large collections of icons."

Sunday, September 01, 2019

2019-08-31 Saturday - ScaleConf 2019 Youtube Playlist

ScaleConf 2019

There are a few interesting talks that I found in the playlist...that were of particular interest to me.  I will include links below, in the next day or so...


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