Rationalizing voice, data and application platforms to optimize the value of infrastructure investments
In the last several years, insurance organizations have been pushing hard to drive out inefficiencies and costs to gain competitive parity with their financial services counterparts and their competitors. Two steps in that direction have been the breaking down of product silos in business organizations and driving those businesses from a customer-centric point of view with products that not only fulfill protection needs, but also long-term-investment and life needs. It is therefore extremely important to drive technology from that same unified point of view. One step in that direction has been to gain control and better manage underlying technology investments. Organizations that have started to optimize their underlying technology infrastructure are more flexible and more nimble in regard to allowing business partners to benefit from the same cost savings. In turn, this allows the organization to focus on more strategic initiatives.
The first step is to looking at technology like a business: Technology Management.
Technology management seeks to satisfy business customers by offering business services that are delivered and supported with technology services. By clearly understanding and defining the link among the business users, business services and technology services, organizations will benefit tremendously. The following diagram depicts the key components:
The business of technology management is to optimize the delivery of those services by:
- Understanding and optimizing the cost-effectiveness of the technology stack
- Developing and using a set of service delivery processes that optimize and assure the performance and availability of the resources and assets necessary to meet client service levels and pricing expectations
- Providing finely tuned support services that efficiently manage and control change, problems, incidents and other events within technology services
Management of the technology stack often begins with an inventory of current technology. Doing an inventory of the current environment of the organization:
- Creates an easily communicated method for classification to the current technology tools and product base
- Enables domain teams to think about groupings in a consistent manner
- Can serve as the basis for classification of desired state frameworks and components
Once the inventory is completed, it needs to be coupled with strong IT governance and strategy-aligned planning processes. Each of the following need to work in concert to be most effective:
- Business Strategy(Input)
- Aligned and Effective IT Governance and Culture
- Strategy-Aligned Processes (Planning, Budgeting, etc.)
- Technology Management
- Business Value (Output)
There is also a core set of management processes that are required to effectively manage a technology infrastructure capability. These support-and-delivery processes must be defined, optimized and measured. The ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) can serve as an excellent foundation to help assess and then optimize these capabilities
Taking Technology Infrastructure to the Next Level
Once your organization has developed a clear view of the current technology structure and its processes; understands how it aligns with the business; and knows the gaps around core technology processes -- then you are ready to outline the key initiatives to drive out costs, improve service and start managing technology like a business. By aligning the drivers and objectives to key improvement programs, you will start to position information technology as a strategic weapon of your insurance organization.
The following is an example of how a set of initiatives can be created to assess and improve the needed work processes that are required for success within the Technology Infrastructure: