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Where The Elite Meet

Since business editorials—and Insurance & Technology's are no exception—typically harangue executives to do something differently or better, it's a pleasure to be able to write a column filled with nothing butpraise. Welcome to I&T's second annual "Elite 8" issue, which recognizes and profiles eight successful technology executives in the insurance industry.

In our efforts to identify top executives who are using technology to transform their organizations, we tapped into the collective knowledge of a roster of seasoned insurance technology consultants who provided tremendous insight into who's rising above the crowd in the insurance technology world. We looked not only for a track record of successful technology implementation, but also for a commitment to recruiting and retaining top talent, an understanding of what it really means to support the business organization, and a general ability to think "outside the box."

In some ways the "Class of 2000" is diverse. Some of the executives have traditional backgrounds—they have computer science degrees, they worked their ways up the corporate ladder from data processing, they have spent most of their careers in insurance. Others came to their current positions in less conventional ways—from biology, the arts or high-tech.

But this year's Elite 8 also have much in common. All of them are dealing with change, not only in their own roles, but in the industry and at their own organizations. These executives really are on the front lines of their firms' battles to transform themselves into fast-moving, customer-centric e-businesses—and they deserve much credit if those strategies are successful. No doubt they will be held accountable if things don't work out.

Most of these execs have devoted considerable time and thought to the creation of enterprisewide architectures—several of our subjects refer to them as blueprints—to facilitate faster and better product development, improve access to critical information, make distribution more effective and learn more about customers and channels.

While it has been enlightening to learn about the achievements of this year's Elite 8, we also learned that there are many respected and innovative technology leaders in insurance, all worthy of recognition. At the Oscar ceremonies, someone always exclaims, "Everyone deserves to win!" That may be a bit of a stretch in insurance, but it is true that there is a lot of talent and ability that sometimes is unappreciated. Perhaps you'll be reading about these unsung heroes in 2001. But for the Elite 8 2000!

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

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