Tower is set to ink a five-year, $10 million outsourcing deal with Axon.
The deal will see responsibility for maintaining Tower's 800 desktops, 130 servers and roughly 100 software applications shift to Axon, which will also take charge of procurement of new hardware and support for desktop services, including networks.
The deal affects the positions of 20 current Tower staff -- 12 will go to Axon, most as employees and a couple as contractors, with the rest "moving on", Tower CIO Ed Saul says.
He says while achieving cost savings is part of the rationale, the main reason is to free up Tower's IT staff resources to work in other areas.
"There are three areas, delivering products to market, service and distribution, that we want to put resources into."
The distribution side, working with the brokers and financial planners who sell Tower products, involves a wrapped bundle of sales-related tools, to be used under the banner 'the Tower Blue Box".
It was built inhouse in the Microsoft development environment. While some had been available previously, the box is the first time they have been put together in a suite, Saul says. "There's a nice user interface linked back via the net to us."
The product is to be launched next February.
Other updates include shifting Tower's life insurance business from a mainframe environment to a more modern platform, Tacit's Talisman.
Tower will also put resources taken off the desktop and server outsourcing contract into customer relationship management and telephony improvements, Saul says.
"Tower was formed 18 months ago from Tower Managed Funds, Tower Health and Life and Tower Insurance and we're looking at a unified service model."