Lori Beer's appointment as executive vice president and CIO represents continuity rather than a departure from WellPoint's technology strategy. Until now Beer was the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield company's chief technology officer, in which capacity she has helped to shape the carrier's data strategy and technology architecture to pave the way for an enterprise-wide technology environment. However Beer is approaching her new responsibilities with an eye to opportunity.
For example, Beer will be working directly with WellPoint chief strategy officer Brad Fluegel to develop an explicit innovation strategy. "Traditionally we have innovated effectively on the Web and in some other areas, but we haven't made a focused investment and taken a focused approach to innovation," Beer explains. "It's something that we decided we wanted to do more deliberately."
Even where Beer carries forward work she began, it is to refine an environment designed to be adaptable to change. Part of that work is continuing the consolidation of systems, which has often been challenging for a carrier that has grown rapidly through mergers and acquisitions over the past few years. Beer also identifies the carrier's information management strategy as a high priority for enabling key capabilities for the future. "We believe that data is a huge, underutilized asset," she comments. "We think we can get a great deal of competitive advantage from it, while providing better service to our members and providers."
The "end game" of a simplified, more transparent technology environment is to provide a better experience for members, employers and providers, according to Beer. She stresses that her organization is dedicated to balancing simplification and innovation in the present, rather than waiting for the entire environment to be fully consolidated and enterprise-wide.
In order to maximize forward movement towards WellPoint's technology vision Beer will be working with the other executive leadership team members to ensure solid engagement between the business and IT. "I see all of us counting on technology to enable the business going forward, and our spirit of partnership is going to grow," she says. "That will drive a need for us to become more agile and increase our throughput in terms of the technical capabilities we're delivering for the business.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio