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Summary:

MetLife wants to build products faster, and to attract smart developers it’s launched a website for submitting qualifications in JSON, not PDF.

MetLife Synapse MINI
photo: MetLife screen shot

Just because a company offers life insurance and retirement-planning services doesn’t mean it has to be boring on the tech side.

Following news that MetLife had earmarked $300 million to implement new technology and built a nifty application for customer-service agents in MongoDB, the NoSQL database’s parent company, 10gen, announced Thursday that MetLife has implemented another Mongo-powered application. This time it’s a program that will let developers hand over their job credentials in JSON, which can plug right into MongoDB. And it runs in the cloud!

The new MetLife Synapse site, built in Node.js and running on Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud, is now live:

MetLife Synapse

MetLife admits that it’s trying to show off its tech cred and catch attention from top developers. But the company also wants to experiment more and pick up new technologies more quickly.

In the case of the Wall application, which contains lots of different kinds of information about customers that call center workers can view in one place, employing a relational model would have been complicated. The NoSQL system turned up a classic business upside: the potential for improved customer experience. As my colleague Derrick Harris wrote,

For customers calling MetLife to discuss a claim or their coverage, it means fewer annoying waits as an agent accesses data from any of dozens of different places.

It’s unclear how much money remains in MetLife’s $300 million high-tech allowance. If there’s a bit left over, perhaps the company will splurge on additional burgeoning technologies, including graphs, next-generation business intelligence and machine learning.

  1. Requesting resumes in JSON also makes for a great news story — smart move, MetLife!

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