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Management Strategies

10:50 AM
Kathy Burger
Kathy Burger
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Insurers View Growth Pronouncements with Bemused Realism

The mood at Celent's 2010 CIO Roundtable was relatively hopeful, with executives and analysts expressing cautious optimism that the insurance industry is ready to move beyond crisis and retrenchment.

It wasn't exactly a party atmosphere at Celent's annual CIO Roundtable last month in New York City. But it wasn't a funeral, either. It was more like a collective sigh of relief -- the sound of an industry ready to move beyond crisis and retrenchment. No one was dancing on the tables, but the mood about the business prospects for the coming year was relatively hopeful.

Summarizing the findings of Celent's 2010 CIO Survey, senior analyst Donald Light told the roundtable attendees that, "2010 business priorities are growth-driven." But what does this really mean for the IT organization? According to Light, respondents to the CIO study said, "The most difficult aspect of the job in 2010 will be balancing priorities," followed by finding resources. In other words, business as usual. And listening to the four executives featured in the roundtable's panel discussion -- John Campbell, CIO, American Modern Insurance Group; Mark Esposito, SVP and CIO, Hartford Life; Mike Foerst, CIO, Missouri Employers Mutual; and Bill Pieroni, operations VP, State Farm -- I sensed a kind of "seen it all, done it all" perspective. It wasn't cocky, cynical or presumptuous, but more of a bemused realism.

These executives have seen how suddenly things can turn bad (or improve), and they now seem to view pronouncements about growth with a combination of hope, weariness, calm and humor. They know that, good times or bad, IT will be called upon to deliver more, and to do it more rapidly, with fewer resources, in a shorter timeframe. That just comes with the job today. As State Farm's Pieroni noted, "I'm a great advocate of innovation -- but there does need to be thoughtful use of innovation. Is it just about what it might do short term from an earnings standpoint?"

Finding smart and profitable ways to grow also will be the focus at Insurance & Technology's 12th annual Executive Summit, "Gearing Up for Growth," taking place Nov. 7-10, 2010, at The Boulders Resort & Spa in Carefree, Ariz. With presentations on topics such as multichannel distribution, maximizing investments in analytics, the potential of social media and mastering resource management, this year's Executive Summit will bring together top insurance industry executives and authorities to examine the success factors -- and potential obstacles -- contributing to a new era of financial services growth. For more information about the Executive Summit program and to register, please visit

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

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