""I certainly can't just talk the talk without them seeing me walk the walk,"" Murray says. ""They need to see that I'm not full of it, that I've got skin in this game too.""
Aggressive recruitment plays an important role too. ""We go out to the local tech schools, as well as some of the Ivy League schools,"" Murray says. ""We set up teams of three recent graduates and one mentor, and I promise themthat they're not going to just be thrown in where they're going to flounder and have to try to find a spot."" After a six-month internship, successful interns are offered a position. Of the program's record so far, Murray says, ""I haven't lost one yet, and I think it's because we make them feel part of the technology team, part of the family.""
Being prepared to adapt his team to today's market requires preparation. Murray says he invests many hours keeping up on technology. ""The other side is keeping up with the business,"" he says. That means reading the insurance literature, being aware of the customers and watching what competitors are doing. ""Sometimes interpreting their direction and mission is as simple as reading their ads,"" he says.
It also means anticipating the needs of the customers and exceeding their expectations. ""If they're asking for X, we'll work to design it with X plus 10,"" he says. Preparing for the customer's needs in advance means that ""you're able to get the change done in days or a week compared to months."" In terms of reputation and competitive advantage, Murray says, ""that means a lot.""
Preparing for the near future will require CIOs to be prepared to move their IT organizations in new directions. ""See that PC over there hooked to the wall?"" asks, Murray, pointing to his desk. ""Just throw it out the window."" In a short time, he says, ""it's going to be wireless."" AIG has already embarked on a wireless pilot at its 70 Pine Street headquarters. Virtual office, business applications over the Web and wireless in general will be ""the next big thing,"" he says.
CIOs will have to adapt to these new technologies if they don't want to become extinct, Murray believes. And as it is the nature of these innovations to affect business direction, the CIO will continue to evolve into a more strategic role. ""I think it will be almost a given that the position is based on the business side,"" he says, adding that ""I think the people who succeed are the ones who build strong business and analytical teams that help define those business requirements and standards.""
KEVIN MURRAY, CIO & SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AIG CLAIMS SERVICES (AIGCS)
EDUCATION: BS, Penn State University.
SIZE OF IT STAFF: 500
HOBBIES: Snowboarding, golf, platform tennis.
NON-TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINES: Red Herring, Harvard Business Review, Stereo Review.
KEY QUOTE: ""Many organizations engage the IT arm too early and spin their wheels on efforts that may not even mature into bona fide technology projects.""
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