In a process that began during the remaining days of 2012, and will continue the early days of 2013, we will all be inundated with the lists of the 'hottest, sexiest, must-have' technologies for 2013. The implications is that if you're not working on or in these technologies, you'll be left behind in the competitive dust. As a result of CIOs heeding these calls, large initiatives will start, stop, be started again, and finally get put on hold while those invested in it review their options. For 2013, however, I'd like to see that circle broken.
My prescription for change suggesting that there are just three things (actually two, that need to be done for the third to be successful) for most carriers to focus on in 2013.
1. Strong leadership
2. Talent development
I know it sounds simple, but deficiencies in these categories are what really hold insurance IT back.
Let's start with leadership and keep it very simple: The insurance industry needs more IT leaders with the courage to say what is and is not possible, how long it will (really) take and how much it will (really) cost, and what is (really) required of their business partners in terms of resources and commitment. The result of this would be more credibility for IT, fewer surprises that involve time frames and costs, and an IT leader who is trusted by his executive peers.
[For more insights from X by 2's Frank Petersmark, see How Insurance CIOs Can Avoid Failure and Establish Their Credibility.]
Next comes talent. If leadership is the great differentiator in the industry, talent is the great equalizer. Most insurance carriers have the same kind of talent - professionals who are adept at what they do and have done, but often lack the kinds of modern skill sets required to effectively tackle large and complex initiatives. That often leaves carriers competing over an ever-shrinking pool of top-notch talent. To remedy this, carriers need to double down on their efforts to elevate the talent they already have, and to recruit the talent they already need but just don't know it yet.
As for technology, let's leave that to all the other prognosticators. My inbox is already full of technology lists or 2013, and in the spirit of full disclosure, including a couple that I've contributed to. So much for following one's own resolutions...
About the Author: Frank Petersmark is CIO Advocate at X by 2, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based technology company specializing in software and data architecture and transformation projects for the insurance industry. He can be reached at Fpetersmark@xby2.com.