The dream of linking brokers and insurers with a unified IT system is dead. But there is new hope, says Andy Cook

It was the autumn of 2000 when six of the UK's biggest insurers decided they would take control of the industry's IT agenda. Software house Misys would develop i2i-link - a sophisticated portal, flowing information from insurers' databases to their brokers and back via broker software. One system, one charge and no confusion.

The project died at the end of last year because insurers could not reach agreement. Now the race is on for i2i-link junior. At the end of last year, insurance IT specialist Polaris was instructed by the biggest insurers in the land to manage a project to produce a junior i2i-link - a portal that can be accessed through the web, but with no links to insurance industry software houses. There will be information provided by insurers on the site, however.

Next month, Polaris and its stakeholders will choose from three bidders. And then the race will begin in earnest. Most brokers have given up on an industry standard system. Those that still believe will be expecting to see results before the end of the year. It's not long, but then the sights are lower. So there is room for hope and that's something that brokers need on the IT front right now.