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CTO Michael Kim Plays to Win at The Hartford

The competitive spirit that drives Michael Kim as an amateur triathlete informs his efforts as eBusiness & Technology CTO to help The Hartford's P&C company to distance itself from the competition.

It may not be necessary to play hard in order to work hard, but that formula seems to work for Michael Kim, CTO, eBusiness & Technology (eB&T), The Hartford Financial Services Group (Hartford; $26.5 billion in 2006 revenues). When not attending to the demands of work or family, Kim is prone to participation in grueling physical activities, including competing in triathlons. "I am a little bit neurotic about working out," he admits.

Kim sees a parallel between play and work, in that effective technology development and stewardship is "not a sprint but an endurance event." Furthermore, as with the tough and highly motivated triathletes he pits himself against, Kim recognizes that he faces fierce competition from his rivals in the realm of insurance technology.

Responsible for overseeing The Hartford P&C company's Information Management, Business Technology Development and Enterprise Architecture and the carrier's Innovation Lab, Kim's architects design the solutions of all initiatives, including policy administration legacy, front-end interfaces and data management optimization, he reports. The latter is an especially important effort to Kim's CTO organization because, he says, "as the former CIO of the Information Management area, I was personally involved in selling, launching and executing the program."

The Hartford's data management optimization initiative will comprise six distinct tracks, Kim relates, including data consolidation, external data management, reports rationalization, storage reduction, business intelligence tool consolidation, and a research analytic platform strategy. "We believe that data can provide us with a competitive advantage in two areas," he says. "One is the analytic use of the data and the business intelligence that comes out of it, and the other is operational use of the data"-such as pre-filling fields within customer service or new business applications, or validating third-party information for automated decision-making.

To a significant extent Kim sees his job as carrying forward the work of his predecessor as CTO, now-CIO Gary Plotkin, and the vision of eB&T senior vice president John Chu. "The past three-and-a-half years have seen a huge amount of strategic structural change," Kim comments. "We're now at an inflection point moving from strategic structural revolution to evolution in operational excellence."

What has been accomplished so far makes Kim "extremely bullish about the future of The Hartford and eB&T's contribution to the company's success," he remarks. However, Kim emphatically does not see that success as passively unfolding. "Leveraging technology to help The Hartford to become the best-in-class insurance company," is what motivates him every day, he says. And in taking on the challenges of his role, he draws upon the ethic that drives his athletic performance: "Play to win, not just finish a race."

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

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