I was speaking with a client yesterday about the technology they have rolled out in the past 2 years. It is a small insurance organization that has delivered a great deal of functionality in a very short time – a new policy system for several lines of business, agent portal with new business, policy change, online document delivery and mobile support, and coming soon, a new data warehouse environment. All of this on a low 7-figure IT budget and a handful of IT resources – and they now supporting and enhancing their technology themselves. Impressive, but not completely unique for small companies.
There’s also the small multiline regional insurer that has delivered better technology in 5 years than many mid-size companies, with modern core systems, agent and consumer portals – and the small workers comp insurer with a trove of robust and widely adopted mobile apps and ongoing R&D efforts around new hardware appliances. What these organizations lack in funding, they make up for in agility. All of these companies have smart CIOs with vision. But the small company edge seems to be the intimacy of the executive teams and the resulting transparency and trust. These organizations make decisions rapidly, are pragmatic in their approach, recognize their financial limitations without making them obstacles and just do it. Certainly bigger companies may inherently have more complexity, but we can all take some lessons from these small but highly agile companies – think big, but act small.
Novarica congratulates the newest group of Tech Decisions Insurance IT All Stars:
- Thad DeBerry, Western World Insurance Group
- Bryan Fowler, Oregon Mutual
- Peter Moreau, Amica Mutual Insurance Co.
- Rich Pedersen, National Life
- Rick Roy, CUNA Mutual.
We’re also proud to say that 80% of this year’s honorees are members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council!
So…our Impact Awards will be presented 10/30 in NYC, we’re running our IT Leadership Training Seminar again this November, the CIO Insurance Summit is coming up, there’s a new report on Southeast Asia, reports on enterprise architecture and US Insurance IT Budgets and Projects for 2013 are coming soon, we bought a banking advisory firm and hired the CEO, we hired a new principal with life, investments, and banking background, and one of our analysts got married.
Man, I thought August was supposed to be slow.
I recently published a report for CIO’s entitled CIO Best Practices: Why Demand Management is More than Managing Demand . The report concentrates on why it is so important for the CIO to have effective IT processes in the area of Demand Management. This report is part of a series that began with Ten Essential Elements for Insurer CIOs, which focused more broadly on the role of the Insurer CIO across ten key responsibilities.
Here is an excerpt from the report:
Sound demand management is a crucial competency of an IT organization, and believe it or not, many CIOs do not even focus on it. The basic premise is that all work being done by the IT organization should be known, approved, and prioritized. There should not be many “gates” into the IT organization where work is introduced – rather, there should be a formalized and transparent process for work introduction. Much to the dismay of business people, there should be no “back-door” way to get things done.
Effective demand management is far more than simply getting a handle on what work is getting done or not. Demand management represents a change in culture in which the IT organization becomes transparent with regard to project prioritization and status, thus building predictability and the confidence of the business organization. This critical function enables the CIO’s ability to actively contribute to business decision making, innovation, and business strategy.
Effective demand management is a core competency for successful IT organizations. As the CIO puts processes in place to effectively manage demand, the CIO and the IT organization becomes elevated from a supplier relationship to a true business partner.
So, for the CIO, demand management is more than demand management — it is really about strategic leadership.
Happy Holidays from Novarica! See you in 2011.
We’re very proud to make the following announcements this morning:
The Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, a moderated knowledge-sharing community of insurer CIOs and other senior executives, has grown to over 200 members. These members represent more than 185 US-based multinational, national, and regional insurers. Members participate in Novarica research and consult with each other and Novarica’s team on issues related to insurer IT strategy. More information is at http://www.novarica.com/council.shtml.
We’re also announcing two new hires today.
Industry veteran Don Desiderato joins us today as a principal within the insurance practice. Don’s expertise includes core systems strategy, distribution systems, variable and blended staffing models, and IT management and planning within the life/annuity industry, and he has focused throughout his career on transformational leadership within life/annuity organizations. Prior to joining Novarica, his 25-year career includes divisional CIO positions at Prudential and ING, and various IT leadership positions Travelers/CitiGroup, where he also spent his early career.
Don will be presenting next month at the upcoming LOMA Retirement conference on STP for Annuities and with me at the 2010 Life Conference on Improving Time-to-Market for Life/Annuity products.
Also joining Novarica’s staff this month is analyst Thuy Nguyen. Thuy is a recent graduate of Brandeis’ International MBA program, and holds a B.A. from Brown University. Thuy’s experience includes several research and financial analyst positions, as well as experience teaching English overseas.
We are extremely pleased to have reached the 200-member milestone, and we are deeply gratified by the trust the community has placed in us and the positive feedback we’ve received from our members. We’re looking forward to continuing our growth to best serve our clients and members.
Novarica welcomes two new team members today.
Martina Conlon has joined our team as a principal in the insurance practice (press release here). Her focus will be on applications, data architecture and IT planning for the property/casualty and healthcare markets. Martina recently served as Senior Manager of Enterprise Technology for Arbella Insurance, where she was responsible for core application development, business intelligence and the agent and consumer web presence. She has also served as Principal Consultant with leading technology and consulting firms where she partnered with client senior management to assess current business challenges and goals, current technology state and delivered strategic IT plans, architecture blueprints and migration strategies. Over the past 20 years, Ms. Conlon has launched technology solutions to increase revenue, improve decision making, enhance agent/trading partner satisfaction and gain operational efficiencies. She holds an MBA from Boston University and a BSEE from Tufts University. She can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also joining our team today is a new researcher, Lis Maguda. Lis is a recent graduate of Harvard University and will be supporting both our insurance and wealth management teams.
As I talk with CIO’s I regularly get questions or comments about IT and Business Alignment. Since most of my career has been spent on the business side, I have a very definite opinion (what a surprise) about the issue.
Like it or not, it is usually up to IT to bridge the gap. If the IT leader can’t create a bridge between IT function and the rest of the business, it’s unlikely that anyone else can. The business side typically doesn’t have the technical expertise to translate IT initiatives and bridge the gap.
Here are a couple of quick steps you can take that will make a big difference:
- Be purposeful about the relationships you build in the organization. Identify the key stakeholders and leaders. Get on the calendar with them to understand their function, their priorities and their challenges. Build and maintain a personal connection.
- Translate all of your projects, initiatives, and metrics into the business priorities. Don’t talk about it as ‘implementing document management”, it’s about improving communications and customer service. Create metrics that measure the value of the deliverable, not just the cost and time. (See our report on Value Driven Metrics).
- Model the behavior you want by articulating the IT vision in a way that connects it to the strategic business goals. Work with your staff to help them gain a broader understanding of the business.
- Most CIO’s came up the technical ranks. It may be helpful to find an internal mentor, or connect with peers who can help define the language that best resonates with the business.
Trae Jones from Appix to Tropics Software.
Rachel Alt-Simmons from TowerGroup to Travelers.