Michael R. Connly, who has been named chief information officer at The St. Paul Companies (St. Paul, MN, $38.3 billion in assets), says that while in his new role he will focus on controlling costs, reusing technology across the entire company and leveraging the Internet for most new technology offerings. Connly replaces the recently retired Wayne Hoeschen as CIO.
Connly, who joined St. Paul in 1997 after 14 years at Hewlett Packard, says he spent his first few months in amazement. "I had six months of bafflement and trying to understand how the insurance industry worked," Connly says. "Coming from Hewlett Packard's industry that was very competitive, with short sales cycles and largely unregulated, to insurance, one almost goes into shock with the complexity and the amount of regulation. The experience I had with Hewlett Packard allows me to understand how things can be different" in other industries.
Connly plans to focus on reusing technology across the entire organization that has already been developed. "The holy grail in IT is being able to reuse what you have already developed," he says. "In the past, we have found, almost by accident, that many of the different internal organizations are looking for the same thing when it comes to technology." For instance, IT built a system for underwriting that brings together customer information from many different sources, explains Connly. "However, today the claims organization is the bigger user of the system."
Connly's ultimate vision is to have the users experiencewhether the user is an agent, underwriter or policyholderbe based on Internet services, or Web services. "We would like to have the user's experience be something I call 'high-performance Internet,'" Connly says. "Instead of requiring users to know about specific systems, we want the user to be able to do everything they need to do to conduct business through a Web browser. When people use the Internet, they don't know anything about the underlying technology systems. That is how we want people to work with us. Web technology is one of the few technologies that is not over hyped. It really lives up to everything that people say it can do."
Connly, who was previously vice president of applications development at St. Paul, will be responsible for enterprise technology, applications development, operations, information security and planning for Information Systems. Connly will report to Tom Bradley, chief financial officer, The St. Paul Companies.
Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio