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03:56 PM
David Holtzman, Insurance Practice Leader, BusinessEdge Solutions
David Holtzman, Insurance Practice Leader, BusinessEdge Solutions
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In this, the fourth in a series of four articles, David Holtzman, Insurance Practice Leader of BusinessEdge Solutions, discusses rationalizing voice, data and application platforms to optimize the value of infrastructure investments.

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
A Place to Start: The Technology Stack

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
This will allow for the organization to clearly understand the technology from three key views (development, execution and operations) and allows for aligning best practices and centers of excellences within the current environment.

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)
Core management Processes to Assess

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

  • Relationship Management - Management process to define the operating model for decision-making between the various organizations involved in both managing the shared service capability and using the capability

  • Help/Service Desk - Process responsible for advice, guidance and communication with clients of services and the rapid restoration of services

  • Change/Configuration Management - Process for requesting, planning, testing, implementing and tracking changes including hardware, software and version control across all shared service environments

  • Infrastructure Availability Management (Service Level Management) - This process uses the optimization of the capability of the infrastructure to consistently provide a sustained level of acceptable service availability

  • Capacity/Performance Management - This process allows the management of resources at a time of crisis and the ability to predict the need for additional capacity within the infrastructure in advance

  • Financial Management - This process ensures sound stewardship of the organization's monetary resources. This includes budgeting, accounting, and charging

  • Incident/Problem Management - The management process of problem tracking and resolution, including the tracking/analysis of problem data for underlying root-cause information

  • Disaster and Business Continuity Management - This process allows the continuation of a predetermined level of services after an interruption has occurred within the business

    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:

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