With a degree in music, Fred Matteson isn't the typical engineer CIO. But that's just what Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. (Novato, Calif., $12.4 billion in assets) wanted when it appointed Matteson as its new top technology officer in mid-January.
"For the last three or four years, as the company shed cost and simplified its businesses, IT focused at a very functional level, driving efficiency, cutting costs and getting down to the bare-bones essential requirements," Matteson says. "Now Fireman's Fund is focusing on business where it feels it has particular expertise and can make a difference in the marketplace."
Among Matteson's ambitions for IT are to simplify business processes for agents and to craft a consistent Fireman's Fund experience for both agents and customers across all lines of business. "Like most insurance companies, we have multiple versions of everything, from billing to policy issuance systems," Matteson notes. "The challenge from an IT standpoint is to rationalize that back end and at the same time identify the functions and business processes to enable business on the front end."
Matteson's recent experience includes developing an enterprise applications architecture and development framework for Charles Schwab's (San Francisco) Web trading initiative, as well as a financial services career that has straddled business and IT. Matteson believes his musician's "right-brained" approach to problem solving gives him an advantage: "It makes me approach the problems a little differently than someone with an engineering background would," he says.
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