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4 Major Challenges for Insurance CIOs: E&Y's Hollander

Today's insurance CIO faces the demand to support growth and profitability, increase focus on the customer, and develop new data capabilities to support regulatory demands and other business imperatives, according to Ernst & Young's David Hollander.

David Hollander
David Hollander, Ernst & Young
The demand for technology-enabled change across the insurance industry has never been greater, as competing business and regulatory demands continue to shape the adaptation of existing technologies. As insurance companies lay the groundwork for data analysis-based competition, business intelligence, analytics and predictive modeling needs are burgeoning across the entire value chain. To meet these needs, insurance CIOs must move beyond their traditional roles to become strategic partners with the business to prioritize the allocation of scarce capital and IT resources for maximum competitive impact, according to David Hollander, global insurance advisory leader of Ernst & Young LLP (New York). Hollander identifies the following as the areas of activity that are having the most impact on insurance CIOs' success and failure:

Simultaneous Need for Growth and Profitability

Insurers today must simultaneously rebuild capital and grow revenues. That means evaluating their existing business models and product offerings in order to achieve the optimal use of scarce capital, according to Hollander. The CIO's imperative is this "do more with less," which involves not merely efficiency, but more effective ways of performing business functions. At a time when insurers must move toward a more comprehensive view of cost reduction, CIOs need to focus on the ways technology can support core operational transformation. "Partnering with the business and understanding business priorities will be key to the prioritization and execution of these critical initiatives," Hollander says.

Increased Focus on the Customer

Virtually all insurers are moving toward a more customer-centric view of their products and services, and technology is a critical enabler of novel approaches to customer segmentation, of retention strategies and cross-sell strategies, and integrated and cross channel customer servicing, according to Hollander. Simply put, technology is the means for insurers to deal with customers anywhere, anytime, on their terms. Many insurers are struggling to find the right organizational structure to enable and improve multichannel distribution and deliver a consistent customer experience, and the CIO should act both as enabler and consultant, Hollander implies. "The use of mobile technologies to empower customers will be an important portion of the CIO's agenda," Hollander affirms.

Increasing Regulatory Demands

Insurance management teams will confront several key challenges related to what Hollander terms the complex and changing accounting, regulatory and tax regime environments in which they operate in the wake of the financial crisis, Dodd-Frank and healthcare reform, and in anticipation of the NAIC's Solvency Modernization Initiative and Europe's Solvency II. He comments: "This will have a significant impact on existing technologies and the technology transformation roadmap."

Competing on Data Analytics

Whether or not insurance can be said to have truly entered the era of "Big Data," insurers need to get better at data analysis across the enterprise, Hollander suggests. They need more detailed and reliable information internally to manage their business, he says, and they must review their information strategy with regard to the potential of an increasingly wide range of external sources of data. "The concept of chief data officer will be a key organizational tenet that the CIOs will have to come to grips with," he predicts.

[For more on insurance CIOs top challenges, see 8 Ways Insurance CIOs Can Maximize Success — Novarica.]

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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