To paraphrase Tolstoy, all CIOs resemble one another, but each outstanding CIO is outstanding in his or her own way. While the job descriptions of technology executives throughout the insurance industry may be similar, not all IT leaders execute their jobs in the same way or with equal success. In this issue, Insurance & Technology's 9th annual report on the most visionary technology leaders in the industry -- the 2007 Elite 8 -- we explore what drives some of these executives to deliver results that are truly "above and beyond."
After nine years of identifying and profiling the insurance industry's most innovative and outstanding IT executives, we have identified some common traits. There are significant areas of focus in which the elite consistently make their mark:
Sourcing Savants: These executives have distinguished themselves because of their ability to get the most out of vendor and partner relationships, whether it involves software implementation, systems integration or outsourcing deals.
Infrastructure Impresarios: They have had the vision and clout to accomplish significant changes and improvements in enterprise architecture and infrastructure, whether it involves pioneering SOA initiatives, integrating siloed channels and applications, or finding a viable way to move beyond aging legacy systems.
Distribution Dynamos: They have helped carriers get to profitable multichannel distribution models, not only making agents and producers more effective, but also providing systems that improve customer insight, product development and service.
Process Perfectionists They are a cut above in their ability to address challenges in business activity, workflow and governance, tackling traditional ways of doing business -- not only to improve efficiency, but also to take their companies to that proverbial next level in terms of compliance and overall performance.
Workforce Wonders: Their ability to attract, motivate, train and retain a skilled IT workforce in today's highly competitive global marketplace -- arguably the No. 1 challenge facing CIOs in the 21st century -- helps them stand out among their peers.
But it's not just about charting a distinctive course. The achievements of this year's Elite 8 honorees are based on close alignment with their organizations' strategic goals -- the IT vision isn't an end in and of itself. Not everyone can achieve this kind of balancing act. But it's a balance that's increasingly critical to success in the 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