April 13, 2011 – After some lean years, a new survey by Cincinnati-based Ward Group discovers a newfound propensity for insurers to invest in information technology.

“In 2011, the consensus is that companies are investing in applications to fund or continue major initiatives,” the report, "IT Spend: The Focus in 2011, " states. “In 2010, Ward Group observed some budget decreases for large projects, but it appears that the freeze has thawed.”

Indeed, the results of the study showed that information technology spend is increasing overall and only 27 percent of companies reporting a decrease in IT budgets from 2010 to 2011.

One of the prime areas for IT investment was in data warehousing, where 50 percent of respondents indicated they were budgeting more money to better house data. “In our world of instant everything, companies want actionable information quickly and efficiently,” the report states.

To fill this need, half of companies are investing in data warehouse activities. Ward has observed increased activity around business intelligence, scorecarding, and analytics.

Another measure of this new commitment to IT spend is reflected in staffing, with 52 percent of respondents increasing staff in application development. The study also showed 28 percent of respondents increasing staff for data warehousing and 28 percent increasing staff for QA testing.

“Historically, recruiting in these areas has been difficult,” the study says. “But in the current economic environment, qualified candidates with business intelligence expertise are available.”

Lastly, in a significant shift from 2010 strategy, Ward found more companies increasing investment in desktop and server support. The desire to leverage technologies such as virtualization and the decreasing cost of hardware are spurring interest, the report states.

“In 2011, it appears that more companies are refreshing PCs that have been delayed in prior years and 17% of companies are increasing their desktop support expense,” the study notes. “Ward continues to see companies pilot virtual desktops. Many companies are waiting for the application portfolio to catch up with the thin client technology.”

This story originally appeared on Insurance Networking News.


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