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Go, Go, Gadget: Top Emerging Technology Tools for Insurers

The executives selected as Elite 8 2012 honorees have reached the heights of their profession by being savvy observers of the digital landscape and prudent marshals of technology. Here are some of their views on the latest and greatest enterprise solutions.
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Sharper Memory

What would you identify as the next hot technology? What technologies do you see as having the biggest impact on the insurance industry?

Mark Clark, Jackson National Life: Certainly, server virtualization and cloud computing are having a huge impact right now, and I see that trend continuing. You'll see more insurers in the future move non-strategic applications to the cloud. We moved our HR system, Workday (Pleasanton, Calif.), and some of our accounting systems to the cloud.

What about a technology that's off the radar, so to speak?

Clark: Phased memory computing -- it's going to revolutionize the way computers work and replace some of the solid-state stuff with even faster stuff. As memory gets cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, you see more applications built to take advantage of that instead of having to store all this transactional data on disks and in databases. You might see a large amount of data throughout the day being kept in memory to make things much, much faster as applications are being developed

Where does this leave legacy technologies? At the same time that you're looking at these emerging options, you also are a big supporter of teaching Cobol at colleges and universities.

Clark: I can think of no business case for rewriting Cobol into Java, and it's also a very dangerous career move. The CIO graveyard is littered with the bones of people who have tried. Our business rules engine and our Genius application and other newer systems all access data from the mainframe with web services. You don't have to rewrite the whole system to take advantage of new technology.

[Elite 8 2012: Mark Clark Powers Jackson National's IT Through Explosive Business Growth]

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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