As I've written about in the past, the pending retirement of the baby-boom generation continues to be major force in shaping the hot topics for discussion in the insurance and technology sector.
Gartner touched on the topic this Tuesday when it released its list of top predictions affecting insurance in 2008.
from the Gartner release:
Gartner predicts that through 2010, IT and knowledge worker staffing challenges will drive a 30 percent increase in rule-based systems, knowledge management, outsourcing, and training among P&C and life insurers. Insurers will have a tremendous problem during the next five to 10 years retaining their core process knowledge and maintaining the aging legacy systems that they continue to run. Companies must start to implement new processes for knowledge management, training, recruiting, and rule-based systems to combat and overcome this challenge.
It's my opinion that if insurers decide to embrace Gartner's advice, they need to embrace it as a whole and not just in bits and pieces. In other words, companies need to recruit and train younger workers, while at the same implementing knowledge management and rules-based systems. One effort is dependent on the other.
Insurers aren't just competing with one another for the top IT talent. They're competing with any industry that needs IT professionals, which is to say, they're competing with everyone. Even technology stalwarts like Microsoft and Yahoo are feeling the workforce crunch, according to a recent New York Times article that suggests that companies like Google, Facebook and many small, nimble start-ups are attracting the most talent.
from the New York Times:
The competition for engineering talent in Silicon Valley and other redoubts of technology is as fierce as its been since the late 1990s, if not fiercer, some in the Valley say.
The battle for tech supremacy, then, is largely a battle for talent. And so one crucial question about Microsoft's $44.6 billion bid for Yahoo is whether a combined company could more easily attract software engineers - an increasingly precious commodity. Both companies are already fighting the perception that their most innovative days are behind them.
"Engineers here want to work on tomorrow's technology, not yesterday's," said Bill Demas, who worked at Microsoft through much of the 1990s and then at Yahoo until leaving last year. He is now chief executive at Moka5, a start-up of around 30 people based in Silicon Valley's Redwood City.
And let's face it, if the likes of Microsoft and Yahoo are viewed by some recent college grads as technology laggards, then insurers (and their less than stellar technology repuation) have an uphill battle to fight. That makes it critical for carriers to implement knowledge management and rules-based systems. After all, if young workers are given the choice between a position consisting of time-consuming administrative tasks and a position where automation and technology have removed that busy work, allowing for a job that involves more critical and strategic thinking, they'll choose the latter every time.