I recently spent several days with 60 or so insurance CIOs at a conference. Some observations from that experience that I think are worth sharing:

Most CIOs are excellent, professional data gatherers. They used both formal meetings and informal conversations to gather intelligence, and to share their stories, with the implied understanding that a healthy exchange of ideas could help them do their jobs better.

Some problems that CIOs face are nearly universal, despite differences by company size, culture and line of business distinctions. On the agenda for 2010 and beyond: attracting and retaining skilled workers; improving the relationships between business and IT; solving today’s problems with an eye on tomorrow’s technology; and managing complex portfolios of IT projects so that resources used and the business benefits gained are both optimized.

The business of IT doesn’t take place in a vacuum. Business concerns, legal and legislative issues, and universal human foibles always intrude. That’s why CIOs have to wear so many hats in their day-to-day roles. Depending on the hour, CIOs must think and act like strategy consultants, educators, law enforcement, psychologists, arbitrators, firefighters and techno-geeks. If that all sounds a bit much, I would point out that’s what many CIOs appear to like about their jobs: There’s never a dull moment.

In an industry where consensus is often hard to find, most CIOs seem to think that technology is in a relatively good place right now. Industry trends toward service-oriented architectures (SOA), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), alternative sourcing strategies, plummeting costs of storage and the improved quality of many packaged solutions may finally give CIOs the game-changing tools they need to help their companies thrive.

Celent’s upcoming 2010 insurance CIO/CTO survey report will explore these and other topics, and I can’t wait to see how the data compare to the anecdotal evidence I gathered at the conference.

This blog has been reprinted with permission from Celent.

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