Innovation has become a hot topic in the insurance industry. We've come a long way from the caution of past decades, when insurers resolutely avoided any initiative that was based on still-emerging technologies. Today, however, insurance companies of all sizes are racing to deploy still-evolving technologies that can provide them with competitive advantage in critical areas ranging from underwriting and product development to claims management, service and cross-selling.
The sea change that has brought the industry from resolute resister to change to aggressive pursuer of new business models has been driven by technology and a dramatic transformation of insurance company IT organizations. As the saying goes, technology is the business. There is no multichannel distribution, no regulatory compliance, no risk management, no customer experience without the IT team's ability to translate business needs into dependable, scalable and secure technology solutions.
Of course, some carriers' IT organizations do this better than others, and some of the very best are led by the executives Insurance & Technology recognizes in this issue, our annual Elite 8 special report on some of the most innovative and effective technology executives in insurance. These talented executives will be recognized at I&T's 14th Annual Executive Summit, Nov. 4-7, at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
This year's honorees represent companies of all sizes, across multiple lines of business. While they are focused on a variety of challenges specific to their businesses and markets, they do share some priorities. They are not afraid of big, transformational projects, especially around core systems modernization. They understand the complexities of the customer experience and the ways that technology can enhance -- or undermine -- that experience. And they are committed to "smart" innovation that provides competitive advantage but is not an end in and of itself.
"Innovation all starts with an idea, trying to fix a problem based on knowledge and experience," Deb Smallwood, founder of Strategy Meets Action, told attendees at her firm's recent SMA Summit in Boston. I&T's 2012 Elite 8 honorees are experts at generating those transformative ideas and inspiring and leading their IT organizations to successfully turn those ideas into measurable improvements. The really good news is that this kind of innovation is becoming an industry standard in insurance IT.
[Elite 8 2012: Susan Gueli’s High-Energy Approach to Building IT Muscle ]