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Insurance CIOs Expect Modest IT Budget Growth, Increased Focus On Human Capital

Panelists at I&T's Elite 8 Executive Forum expect a closer look at worker deployment and improved partnerships between business and IT in 2014.

Most insurers are planning level or increased IT budgets for next year, said Matt Josefowicz, managing director at Novarica, during a panel at last night’s 2013 Elite 8 Forum held in New York’s Trump Soho hotel. He was citing a study of 2014 insurer budgets by the Novarica Research Council, which also concluded that companies expect IT to deliver business intelligence and data analytics, reduce operating expenses, and improve speed to market for new products throughout the next year.

But despite survey findings, Josefowicz noted that IT budgets do not reflect the total value that companies will derive from technology. In 2014, businesses will especially focus on how their employees can best use technologies to drive profitability. CIOs on the panel agreed.

“At the end of the day, the business wants enriched decisions in what they do and how they capitalize on technology,” said Piyush Singh, senior VP and CIO of P&C at Great American Insurance Group. He plans to look closely at his company’s human capital resources in 2014. “What are people doing? What is the value add?” he questioned the audience, noting that many people don’t pay attention to how workers are deployed.

“We’re trying to balance human capital,” said Michael Anselmo, CIO at Narragansett Bay Insurance Company. His company plans to combine its business and IT employees to improve operational processes. Narragansett Bay is currently trying to level the progress between its business and technology sectors after spending three years focused on core replacement. Now, the business side needs to catch up with the new technology being used.

“It’s important to find the best way to integrate with your business peers,” Anselmo said. Narragansett Bay plans to experiment with implementing IT employees in business roles to facilitate collaboration and knowledge expansion between the departments.

The business/IT integration is also significant because the combination of the two sectors can lead to effective achievement of company goals. At Great American, Singh explained, most time is spent replacing legacy systems, adapting to marketplace changes, and addressing regulatory issues. All of these tasks can be more efficiently solved with a team of business and IT employees.

[Elite 8 winner Piyush Singh has transformed the business/IT relationship at Great American. Read: Great American’s Piyush Singh Thrives as Change Agent. ]

Eventually, said Singh, there will be no boundary between business and IT. Like most modern businesses, insurance companies will grow to include IT in every aspect of the organization.

Technology use is expected to vary among industry sectors in 2014, Josefowicz added. Larger P&C companies will place the greatest focus on big data, while life and annuity insurers will be more aggressive in bringing mobile to distributors. Overall, there will be an increased focus on analytics and the strategic value of data, Josefowicz reported.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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