If there was ever a time to make New Year's resolutions, it's now, at the end of a year that for most people in the financial services industry can't conclude quickly enough. Looking back at the events of 2008 in order to understand and learn from mistakes is important, but that exercise should provide a foundation for new thinking and improved operations going forward.
Accordingly, the 2009 Insurance Technology Outlook special report in this issue of Insurance & Technology features insights from carrier CIOs and other industry experts about what's going to be on insurance company IT agendas in the coming year. At the same time, I'd like to suggest a few goals for all of us -- resolutions that, even if we only partly achieve them, will help us be smarter and more successful businesspeople.
Master social media. It's more than selling insurance via Second Life or featuring a carrier's TV commercials on YouTube. Fluency in Web 2.0 technology and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter is now a core business capability for any decision maker. It's critical to collaboration and communication in any business. I'm committing myself to becoming much more active and adept at using social media -- so expect to become my friend and follower in 2009. And look for enhanced online features, tools and content offerings from Insurance & Technology on www.insurancetech.com.
Understand the unfamiliar. How well do you really grasp the habits and expectations of the Millennial generation -- your new employees and customers? How much do you know about underbanked individuals, whether they are immigrants in the U.S. or residents of underdeveloped countries? Are you up to speed on cloud computing, mobile payments and telepresence? The events of the past year have made it clear that the world is shockingly interconnected, which makes it imperative for all of us to strive to simultaneously become technologists, economists, demographers, sociologists and futurists. You can't get away with saying, "It's not part of my job description."
Be competitive. It's not devious to conclude that tough times present opportunities for strong and well-managed organizations. Companies that are able to make smart technology investments that improve distribution, compliance and financial management capabilities not only grow profits and market share, they create jobs, pay taxes and give back to communities. It's all good.
Stay healthy. Do I really have to explain this one?
Happy New Year!
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio