AFLAC to Get Web-Based E-Mail from WorldCom

In another announcement from a major corporation outsourcing a portion of its e-mail system, WorldCom Inc. today announced a three-year, multimillion-dollar contract with insurer AFLAC Inc. to provide Web-based e-mail service to its more than 28,000 independent U.S. agents.

Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom already maintains the internal network for Columbus, Ga.-based AFLAC and will now provide the connection to Web-based e-mail services through San Francisco-based outsourcer Critical Path Inc.

WorldCom, which is primarily a reseller of the actual e-mail services, will provide help desk support and serve as a one-contact provider for the e-mail, said a WorldCom spokeswoman.

Outsourced, Web-based e-mail is an effective way to quickly and cheaply get a unit or affiliated group of a company into the e-mail loop without adding to the internal network, analysts said. On Tuesday, for example, Richmond, Va.-based electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc. signed a deal with Critical Path to outsource e-mail in a training program involving 60,000 sales associates at its 600-plus stores by the end of the year.

Other recent deals have involved Bechtel Enterprises Holdings Inc., a subsidiary of Bechtel Group Inc., which announced a deal with Critical Path two weeks ago; LM Ericsson Telephone Co., which entered a deal with Mail.com Inc.; United Air Lines Inc., working with USA.net Inc.; and McDonald's Corp., whose partner is United Messaging Inc.

In a press release, Akitoshi Kan, AFLAC's executive vice president, said field agents get timely information and access to an automated process that allows for more "responsive access" to their customers.

In addition, Kan said in the release, moving to Web-based e-mail allows AFLAC to reduce mailing costs and improve the performance of critical business communications.

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