Reflecting the needs of top insurance executives to revamp their strategic visions in light of a converging,ever-more-competitive global financial services environment, Insurance & Technology's second annual Executive Summit set new standards for attendance and customer relationship building. Nearly 90 senior insurance executives, technology solutions providers and their guests convened in December at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix for Executive Summit 2000.
The Executive Summit 2000 conference program featured executives from a number of organizations that are on the leading edge of financial services e-business transformation. A common theme of all speakers was forging a new kind of relationship with existing and future customers. For example, Jeff Lewis, vice president, new initiatives, at Allstate Insurance Co., updated the group on the company's transformation into a multi-channel distribution organization, a strategy that ultimately will enable customers to access Allstate "when they want, how they want, for what they want, from wherever they want." Representing the new breed of competitor-and potential partner-that insurers are encountering, Monish Kumar, vice president, product management and strategy for aggregator OnMoney.com (an affiliate of Ameritrade), discussed how the new venture is approaching a target market of 49 million adults with a "permissioned access" strategy that is "as related to life events as possible."
Effectively leveraging brand identity in the new competitive environment is another challenge facing insurance executives, and several Summit speakers touched on that issue. Lou Geremia, president of Fidelity Investment's online insurance marketplace, Insurance.com, described the company's mission as, "Be the brand name people think of to research, shop for, purchase and manage their insurance products throughout their lives." Meanwhile, Jim Valentino, interactive practice leader, financial services, for Agency.com, stressed how a strong and effectively supported brand can provide a competitive advantage in what he described as today's "experience economy"-where "people's lives are organized around events, not products."
However, being competitive requires insurers to have a robust technology infrastructure, agreed panelists at a session on financial services convergence. "We need infrastructures that are more flexible than in the past," pointed out David Annis, CIO at The Hartford, while Tom Schwaninger, CIO of Aetna International (now part of ING) emphasized the necessity of building "cross-product, cross-market infrastructures."
The importance of infrastructure in achieving customer-centricity and be-coming an e-business also was the topic of discussion at several of the Special Interest Roundtables in which Summit attendees participated. Other topics covered at these informal brainstorming/networking sessions-a new feature at this year's event-included the business case for outsourcing and legacy integration.
This year's attendees also were able to take advantage of a series of customized, one-on-one meetings with Summit sponsors: BrightRoad (a division of Ontos), ClaimsDesk, Deloitte Consulting, Dhar-ma Systems, Silverline Technologies, FirePond, IONA Technologies, InSystems, PeopleSoft, Sherwood International, Sie-bel Systems and Trilogy.
Another highlight of the Summit was the Elite 8 Awards Dinner, which celebrated eight insurance visionaries recognized and profiled in I&T's annual Elite 8 issue (Editor's Note: See I&T November 15, 2000): David Annis, The Hartford; Leon Billis, AXA Client Solutions; Cecilia Claudio, Farmers Group; Max Drucker, eCoverage; Anthony Candito, New England Finan-cial/MetLife; Christine Modie, MassMutual Fi-nancial Group; George McKin-non, Nationwide Insurance; and Kevin Murray, AIG Claims Services.
For information about the dates, location and registration procedures for Executive Summit 2001, contact Kathy Burger, Editorial Director, I&T, [email protected], or visit the Insurance & Technology Web site at www.insurancetech.com.