Most companies in the insurance industry have a portfolio of systems and infrastructure that has been built out over decades, consisting of a wide range of architecture styles and technology platforms. This evolution has resulted in a degree of redundancy, inefficient resource consumption and operational complexity. To increase the effectiveness of infrastructure while responding to the dynamic business demands, companies must simplify their portfolios while increasing agility through the selective deployment of new technical capabilities and architecture styles.
A rigorous enterprise planning process is the foundation for driving both infrastructure simplification and strategic enablement. Through a repeatable cycle of analysis and planning, opportunities to standardize and consolidate are balanced with emerging business demands for new capability. Business cases are then developed and fed into the company's annual investment planning process. Through this approach, the thoughtful introduction of new paradigms, such as infrastructure virtualization and "plug-and-play" B2B integration capabilities, are balanced with technology rationalization and system retirement objectives.
However, planning alone does not get the job done. Both an ongoing investment in simplification and technology refresh, combined with strong architecture governance, must be in place to achieve the benefits of technology plans. IT executives must communicate the business value of an ongoing technology refresh program in terms of bottom- and top-line improvements, just as any other business plan must be justified. Typically, this plan will contain both quick wins as well as longer-term and larger impact work.
Architecture governance is critical. Through governance, the introduction of exceptions to technical standards is reviewed carefully for business justification, while use of obsolete technologies is curtailed.