To get an idea of how much emphasis Jon Boscia places on technology's role at Lincoln National Corp. ($124 billion in assets), consider the fact that when he became chief executive officer of the Philadelphia-based group of insurance and financial services companies in 1998 he sought out insights from prominent technology CEOs, including Bill Gates of Microsoft and Intel's Andy Grove. One conversation that he remembers in particular was with Cisco Systems' chief John Chambers, who asked how likely is was that a Lincoln National employee in the company's technology organization could become a senior business leader or even CEO. If the likelihood were small, according to Chambers, then technology was not core to the business.
Boscia has taken Chambers' question to heart when it comes to the alignment of IT and business functions at Lincoln National. "For me, a test of whether your business and technology solutions are properly entwined is whether you can separate their cost," he says. If it is hard to determine, from a budgeting perspective, where one leaves off and another begins, then the two areas are aligned effectively, he explains.
In keeping with that vision, Boscia sees Lincoln National's technological intellectual propertywhich resides with its IT executives and managersas central to forging the firm's business strategy. "You should never have any type of discussion meeting on strategy without tech people being a part," he comments. Along with those expectations come opportunities of the sort Cisco's Chambers suggested. "We expect our technology people to really understand where the business is going, and therefore they have a lot more options in their careers."
Expectations are also high for business people, of whom too little is sometimes expected when it comes to understanding technology, Boscia asserts. "I think that's a pitfall," he says. "I can't do C++ programming with anything like the competence that a C++ programmer has, but I'd better understand when they're talking about issues that impact being able to deliver a product on time."
Boscia provides a good example, according to Jason Glazier, Lincoln's senior vice president for e-commerce. "Jon is a very prudent investor in technology, and he likes to be given a gamut of options," Glazier says. "He really wants to understand it at the level where he can make more discrete decisions on every part and cost justify it."
Boscia's business technology experience goes from boyhood days of using a "comptometer" at his father's insurance agency, to using computers for statistical analysis as an undergraduate, and earning a technology-related masters degree. He also worked at Mellon Bank (Pittsburgh), where, he says, "I was very active in applying technology to money management processes."
Even so, he was impressed by what he found at Lincoln National when he joined in 1983 as vice president of strategic planning for Lincoln National Pension Insurance Co. "I was astounded by the level of technology they had," he explains. "Almost 20 years ago, everybody, from the CEO on down was connected by email."
However impressive Lincoln National's technology acumen may have been historically, it got a well-needed boost with Boscia's arrival, according to Linda Fraley, vice president and chief information officer, Lincoln Re (the insurer's reinsurance operation). "Before he became CEO, we got a strategic plan thrown over the wall with no key insights," Fraley says. She also credits Boscia with revitalizing Lincoln's IT advisory council, which had been disbanded. "Jon set that committee up again and we are accomplishing things at an enterprise level that we'd never been able to do before," she says.
JON A. BOSCIA
Chairman and chief executive officer, Lincoln National Corp. (Philadelphia, $124 billion in assets).
EDUCATION: BS, Point Park College (Pittsburgh); MBA, Duquesne University (Pittsburgh).
HOBBIES, ETC.: Jazz drumming, exercising, recreational reading and going out to dinner.Boscia says he doesn't feel he's had a vacation if it wasn't at the beach.
LAST WORTHWHILE BOOK READ: The Lexus and the Olive Tree, by Thomas Friedman. Boscia also enjoys the works of Stephen King, Tom Wolfe, Tom Clancy.
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