The Seeds of IT Culture
October 25, 2006 @ 14:00 PM | By Anthony O'Donnell
Probably no single factor influenced the development of Bangalore as a center of industry more than the city's long-standing educational culture, fostered by the intertwining influences of Bangalore's colonial administrative establishment and it's pleasant weather. The city's educational establishment comprises institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science-one of the oldest in the country, having been founded in 1911-and several others dating to recent decades, including the Indian Institute of Management, the Institute for Social and Economic Change, the Indian Statistical Institute, the National Law School of India University and Electronics City's own International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (formerly Indian Institute of Information Technology). Bangalore became an industrial center after India gained independence in 1947, with the founding of aerospace and defense companies under government auspices. However, the information technology only got started after the national government began to move away from socialist economic policy tendencies. The establishment of so-called Export Processing Zones (EPZs) allowed for duty free import of equipment provided it was to be used to support industries with products for export only, according to V. Shankar, executive vice president and head of iflex solutions' PrimeSourcing division, whom I met in Bangalore. "It was one of the few things that the government has done right," he comments. The zones originally applied to specified geographical areas but can now apply to individual facilities. The government later also granted multi-year "tax holidays" to allow companies to gain some financial momentum.continued...
Driving In India
October 24, 2006 @ 10:32 AM | By Anthony O'Donnell
The headline should not suggest that I attempted to drive in India. Perish the thought. My various hosts always made sure to schedule transportation to get where I needed to go (if not necessarily always at the appointed time). One way Indian Drivers compensate for traffic congestion is to refuse to be bound by the concept of lanes, even when these are clearly painted on the tarmac. This creates a terrifying spectacle to the eye of the uninitiated, especially as vehicles range in size and type from the occasional large truck to significant numbers of medium-sized trucks, to the usual complement of sedans, to three-wheel motorized rickshaws, to cantering cows. Yes, cows. Added to the visual assault is a sonorous one, owing to the constant honking of horns. One is struck by the sheer frequency of their use and also by the fact that, whether by industrial happenstance or government decree, they all appear to have the same pitch and amplitude. But one soon gets past the sensory menace of the scene and begins to see signs of order amid the chaos. If one were to temporarily establish this regime in, say, New Jersey, the result would be destruction-and probably homicide-on a grand scale. What makes it work in India is a code of conduct whereby drivers acknowledge that everybody is simply trying to get where they're going and don't take offense at whatever maneuvers support that objective. This results in drivers being very alert to any possible moves on the part of fellow drivers. The code includes an imperative to use one's horn to let the guy ahead of your know you're coming. Like the trucks in the U.S. that encourage motorists to pass on the left, the backs of Indian trucks say "Horn Please." Once one understands this, the constant sounding of horns ceases to sound like an unmitigated orgy of screaming hostility and transforms itself, aided by the tonal monotony of the standardized horns, into something more like a field of contented motorized crickets.continued...
October 24, 2006 @ 10:23 AM | By Anthony O'Donnell
The Southern India city of Bangalore has long been considered something like the Florida of India-a good-weather destination that makes a nice place to study in or retire to. Like Florida, Bangalore is in the South, but in India "good weather" means cooler weather, which Bangalore enjoys by virtue of its elevation at roughly 3000 feet above sea level. As an administrative and educational seat dating from the days of British occupation, Bangalore long enjoyed a leisurely, small-town feel-very different from a large, densely populated commercial city such as Mumbai. But Bangalore has changed. Today Bangalore is India's third largest city, with a population of 6.1 million. It is home to about 2000 electronics and IT companies, including indigenous companies active in the U.S. insurance industry, such as Wipro, TCS, InfoSys ITI, Satyam and iflex solutions, as well as foreign concerns such as Motorola, Siemens and the company whose investment sparked the IT culture in Bangalore, Hewlett-Packard. Over 100 companies, including most of the preceding firms, are located in Bangalore's Electronics City, a 330-acre industrial park and island of polished modernity amid a city that includes an abundance of the dusty, perennially unfinished and poverty-stricken milieu of a third-world population center. To be strictly accurate, Electronic City is on the periphery of Bangalore, to the south-southeast. Along with the constellation of companies along the Airport Road on the eastern side of the municipality, Electronics City has contributed in a big way to levels of traffic that sorely test the existing infrastructure. The resulting effect is of a small town with big town traffic; the roads and buildings are on a more intimate, comfortable scale but the volume of vehicles seems to have rushed in, as if by breaching a traffic dam that separated Bangalore from some teeming metropolis. My driver, who has been at his job for 20 years, laments the current situation, explaining that even 15 years ago Bangalore had no traffic lights.continued...
Introduction: India Blog
October 24, 2006 @ 10:15 AM | By Anthony O'Donnell
India has proven itself a leading destination for offshore outsourcing through its success with many customers in the insurance industry, as in others. There is therefore no need to establish its basic credentials. However, for those who have yet to do business with India we feel there is some utility in sharing the experience of being in India as it sheds light on many aspects that illuminate both the advantages and challenges of working with Indian partners, as well as giving a deeper impression of the cultural foundation of Indian capabilities. For those who have done business with Indian partners, what follows may present a reinforcing, complementary or novel point of view. It may also shed light on what the future of Indian technology might mean for your business. In service of these ambitions we have included not only information directly relating to the insurance business and technology, but also the sights and sounds of the subcontinent. As the expression goes, there's nothing like being there.continued...
A Passage to India
October 16, 2006 @ 13:43 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Be sure to visit Insurance & Technology's new blog for reports from Senior Editor Anthony O'Donnell. Anthony will be traveling to Bangalore, Mumbai, Udaipur, Delhi and Agra, meeting with vendors and carrier executives.continued...
Elite 8: Joan Zerkovich, Senior Vice President and CIO, International Catastrophe Managers (ICAT)
October 11, 2006 @ 23:59 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Anthony O'Donnell, Senior Editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Joan Zerkovich, one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about how her decisive leadership and a background in distributed computing and Web-based technology drove the technology transformation of catastrophe insurance start-up ICAT.
Elite 8: Jeffrey I. Stoll, Senior Vice President and CIO, Individual Business Application Development, MetLife, inc.
October 11, 2006 @ 23:58 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Anthony O'Donnell, Senior Editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Jeff Stoll, one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about how Stoll has taken MetLife's Individual Business Division through M&A challenges and legacy consolidation and modernization projects of a magnitude equal to any the insurance industry has seen in recent years.
Elite 8: Jim Court, Vice President and CIO, First American P&C Insurance Group
October 11, 2006 @ 23:57 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Anthony O'Donnell, Senior Editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Jim Court, one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about how Court's from-the-ground-up technology renovation helped First American P&C to go from revenues of $12 million in net written premium to $125 million within six years.
Elite 8: Allen Bowen, SVP, Information Systems, Ohio National Financial Services.
October 11, 2006 @ 16:54 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Maria Woehr, associate editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Al Bowen, senior vice president, information systems of Ohio National Financial Services and one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about his accomplishments in the industry and what is next for Ohio National.
Elite 8: John Kellington, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ohio Casualty
October 11, 2006 @ 16:53 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Anthony O'Donnell, Senior Editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with John Kellington, one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about how an enterprise technology orientation, development methodologies, project management discipline and astute staff development have driven an unsurpassed record of success at Ohio Casualty.
Elite 8: Bruce Goodman, Senior Vice President and Chief Service and Information Officer, Humana Inc.
October 11, 2006 @ 16:52 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Kathy Burger, editorial director of Insurance & Technology, talks with Bruce Goodman, senior vice president and chief service and information officer, and one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about how by tracking emerging technology developments, Goodman is able to identify real-world applications that make the health insurer an easy-to-work-with partner.
Elite 8: Stuart McGuigan, Senior Vice President and CIO, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group
October 11, 2006 @ 16:50 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Maria Woehr, associate editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Stuart McGuigan, executive vice president and enterprise CIO of Liberty Mutual Group, and one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about his accomplishments and how the business is using IT to enhance customer service.
Elite8: Rick Roy, Senior Vice President, Customer Operations, CUNA Mutual Group
October 11, 2006 @ 16:49 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
Maria Woehr, associate editor of Insurance & Technology, speaks with Rick Roy, senior vice president of Customer Operations of CUNA Mutual Group, and one of I&T's Elite 8 2006, about the responsibilities and challenges of his new position.
Insurance 2020: Innovating beyond old models
October 10, 2006 @ 23:07 PM | By Vitali Zhulkovsky
"Insurance 2020 - Innovating beyond old models" discusses the strategic challenges insurance companies will face in the insurance marketplace of the future and shares ideas for moving from today's realities to tomorrow's potential.
In this interview, Mike Adler, Industry Leader for IBM's Global Business Services Insurance Practice and Jamie Bisker, Global Insurance Industry Leader for IBM's thought leadership group, the Institute for Business Value discuss the year long study conducted with dozens of global and U.S. insurance industry executives. Mike and Jamie discuss survey respondents and data analysis that revealed four mega-trends that underscore the need for innovation and will pave the way to consistent value creation for stakeholders by the year 2020.