In the six years since Insurance & Technology introduced the annual Elite 8 Awards recognizing some of the insurance industry's most effective and visionary senior technology executives, much has changed in the world of the CIO. In addition to impressive improvements in the capabilities of a range of technologies, the long-time rhetoric about business and IT alignment has become a reality in many organizations, CIOs increasingly have an eclectic business and technology orientation, and the ability to quantify the benefits of IT investments has become much more sophisticated.
But there's still a long way to go. A recent study from Bain & Co. reported that 60 percent of C-level executives and other senior managers surveyed say that IT sometimes inhibits growth. At the same time, IT spending averages 7.4 percent of revenue at companies where executives view IT as a significant enabler of growth, but only 4.7 percent of revenue at companies where executives see technology as an inhibitor, according to Bain.
It may be that these findings reflect outdated assumptions about IT. But there is no denying that the 2004 Elite 8 executives defy the statistics and conventional wisdom in many ways, and one of the recurring themes among this year's honorees is their intense focus on helping their organizations grow and compete. It is encouraging to see that the "return to growth" mantra being sounded in the market is understood and embraced by the industry's technology leadership. The eight executives profiled in this issue all demonstrate a number of best practices for the ways in which IT has become integral to a thriving insurance company's ongoing success. Read on to gain insights into just how they do it.
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