Sometimes you don't know that a revolution has occurred until after the fact. The 2006 edition of Insurance & Technology's annual Tech-Savvy CEOs report, which appears in this issue, offers a prime example of this. For the first time in the many years that I&T has been talking to CEOs about their views on technology's role in the success of their organizations, the majority of them have their opinions grounded not just in belief, but in experience.
Three of the executives profiled in this issue actually have worked as technology executives -- for insurance industry providers or computer developers. All five are more than conversant in insurance IT arcana such as industry standards, policy administration and actuarial systems, and project management. It's not that past tech-savvy CEOs didn't appreciate or understand technology. Quite the contrary -- it has been the support and confidence of these visionary chief executives that have helped drive insurance's transformation into a more operationally adept, flexible and customer-focused multichannel distribution business.
But now we seem to have entered a new phase or generation. Just as CIOs and other technology executives increasingly have real business and financial experience, insurance business executives -- and that includes the CEO -- are significantly grounded in information technology. Their expectations for what IT can and must deliver are both more aggressive than ever, but also more realistic in terms of a real-world understanding of costs, required resources, deliverables and pitfalls.
Accordingly, the Class of 2006 not only talks the talk about technology's essential role in achieving business goals; these executives also are able to walk the proverbial walk in ways that may have challenged some of their predecessors. This quiet revolution in CEO capabilities also serves as further evidence of the simultaneous demystification of IT and its elevation from cost center to strategic necessity.
In addition to reading the profiles that appear in this issue (beginning on page 25), you literally can hear more from the 2006 Tech-Savvy CEOs by accessing a series of one-on-one conversations with them conducted by the I&T editorial team by downloading a series of podcasts (brief digital audio/MP3 files), available at www.insurancetech.com/podcast. It's only appropriate, after all, that we deliver information about these forward-looking executives in a state-of-the-art manner.
Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio