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Strategic IT Investments Still On Track

Spending remains focused on customers and e-business, according to InformationWeek

Insurance companies are not alone in their identification of e-commerce and e-business—whether B2B or, increasingly, B2C—initiatives as being among their top systems and business priorities. According to InformationWeek Research's Global IT Strategies study, 42 percent of the 894 business and IT executives surveyed identified e-commerce as one of the most strategic IT projects underway at their organizations this year. More than half (51 percent) of the respondents said that improving Web site capacity/performance was the most strategic project underway, and 52 percent identified improving customer services and support infrastructure as a top priority.

Of those IT projects, B2B is still receiving the lion's share of the investment—a trend clearly reflected in the insurance industry. Almost half (42 percent) of the respondents to the InformationWeek study identified B2B as their primary approach to e-business, while 18 percent said it was primarily B2C; about one-fourth said their firms are pursuing both equally.

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As in the insurance industry, the top business initiatives cited parallel the IT projects. Fifty-two percent of respondents said "seeking greater understanding of customers" was the most strategic business initiative underway at their company this year, while 55 percent cited creating new service offerings and 52 percent cited creating new product lines.

Foresee More Competition

Collectively, according to InformationWeek (part of CMP Media and a sister publication of Insurance & Technology), despite the dot-com slump and retrenchment in the global high-tech sector, three in five companies reportedly will increase IT spending. Again, it appears that the insurance industry is not alone in recognizing that IT investments are not discretionary. As for challenges that might impede achievement of business and IT goals this year, 42 percent of those surveyed pointed to competition, while more than one-third (38 percent) pointed to weakening economic conditions. And the managers who responded to the InformationWeek study remain relatively optimistic about their companies' businessprospects: Three-quarters of those polled anticipate revenue growth at their organizations this year. Twelve percent report their employers are preparing for a revenue decline, and 13 percent expect revenue to be comparable to last year's numbers.

Approximately 12 percent of the InformationWeek survey respondents identified themselves as being part of the financial services/insurance industry.

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

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