It's just as well that new Hartford Life CIO Terry Walker has come up through the ranks. The company's business and IT focus is tightly aligned to its four major lines of business -- investment products, group benefits, individual life and international -- which function autonomously. Walker has seen the inside of two of those divisions, having begun his career at Hartford Life in 2000 in the investment products division, and most recently having led technology for group benefits.
Maintaining what is referred to internally as a micro-enterprise focus is a "sacrosanct" objective, according to Walker. And, he says, "Because I came out of the line-of-business operations, I think I have a unique appreciation for how that works." Nevertheless, Walker adds, "From the CIO office we are going to look for ways to drive consistent practices and processes across the enterprise from an overall IT governance standpoint."
Among the areas of concern that will be affected by an enterprise focus are compliance-related information protection initiatives as well as security concerns. While Walker expresses great confidence in the company's existing measures and controls, he opines that threats relating to regulatory compliance, security and business continuity are evolving constantly and require a dynamic approach. "We're heightening our awareness to make sure that we remain rock solid across the board," he comments.
Walker says he also plans to key in on attracting and retaining top IT talent, especially from the generation now emerging from higher education, which he believes is crucial to understanding and effectively addressing changing customer expectations. "This generation has grown up with technology and has a fresh perspective on how we can work with technology," he remarks. "They are representative of a different segment of customers that we need to go after."
All Walker's efforts, he says, will be directed to creating an increasingly flexible and responsive IT apparatus in support of business growth. As in any competitive financial services company, at Hartford Life there is a "thirst for information" which IT can help to slake, in Walker's view. "There's never enough of the appropriate information," he says.
Providing the right tools to the various lines of business' distribution organizations is another key capability in driving growth, according to Walker. "We need to provide differentiated tools and capabilities, and we need to ask, "How do we provide more-timely access to appropriate information, through sales automation tools, contact management tools and other capabilities," he says.
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