Insurance CIOs have a challenging role to play within the domain of their industry. This is especially the case considering that insurance is definitely not considered an industry known for technology innovation or leadership. Two major factors that contribute to this situation are (1) lack of end-user customer interaction during the product life cycle and (2) pace (or lack thereof) of changes in the product marketplace due to regulatory and social factors.
Given the environment, the CIOs have to provide an optimum balance between strategic and operational aspects of their leadership. While the operational aspects can consume their day-to-day lives, it is imperative for them to address their focus toward building platforms and strategies that are responsive to current as well as emerging business needs. To achieve this they need to change a few aspects of the IT environment:
1. Instead of being insular and inward to the insurance industry, they need to expose their staffs to other industries and explore uncharted innovation possibilities.
2. The technologists and the management leadership in IT need to be exposed to the operational business environment to fully understand the context of their work versus being the order takers. This needs to go beyond INS and CPCU classes.
3. Establish appropriate governance and reporting mechanisms that give a true sense of dimensions of IT spend to ensure that there is appropriate alignment with business needs -- current and emerging.