In discussions of the contribution of IT to the insurance enterprise, it's hard not to speak in terms of IT as separate from "the business." IT is an enabler of business process after all, no matter how pervasive and strategic its role has become. Nevertheless, CIOs often insist that IT is part of the business, even as it supports it, and certainly not without reason. Tim Schaefer, Northwestern Mutual's CIO makes such a case in a profile piece by our colleague Chris Murphy of InformationWeek. An excerpt:
"We came to realize we ourselves were building the wall. We were distinguishing ourselves from the rest of the company," says Schaefer, who spoke at WTN Media's Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium, in Madison, Wis., this week. "We were somehow different. We had all this special knowledge. So this whole concept of black box, and the gap in the relationship, we came to realize was of our own doing."
Schaefer's approach is to discuss IT as a business asset. Does he have a good point about shaping IT's role through a different definition of its role? I think so. Does it ultimately do away with the question of IT/business alignment at Northwestern Mutual or anywhere else? The piece is certainly worth a look, but I'll let the reader decide.
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