As a long-time contributor to Insurance Networking News, I’m pleased and honored to be joining INN’s blogging community. At this site, I intend to bring you the latest research, case studies and user experiences, expert opinions and unconventional commentary on issues shaping enterprise computing within the insurance and financial services sector.

And what a time this is to be following enterprise computing. Over the decades, we’ve seen the industry lead the way in digitizing and automating all aspects of the business. Yet, since firms have invested in technology so heavily early on, there are billions of dollars’ worth of legacy systems out there, still chugging away. The challenge is updating or migrating these systems to better align with a fast-changing business landscape. Needless to say, that leaves plenty of work to be done.

Here are five key areas to watch (note that these categories are highly interrelated and overlapping):

• Agility and streamlining: Cost reduction is a priority for many companies, yet there is pressure to squeeze as much as possible out of systems to move firms to greater levels of competitiveness.

• Service-oriented Architecture: SOA is a key strategy for achieving greater systems agility. In SOA, vital parts of applications are exposed as standardized services for consumption across the enterprise, paving the way for legacy and mainframe modernization.

• Total Enterprise Virtualization: One strategy that will be employed to help manage and streamline IT is Total Enterprise Virtualization, which extends the advantages of virtualization—greater availability, scalability and capacity with greater resource utilization—across the enterprise.

• Business Intelligence and Data Management: Companies are facing a tsunami of information coming from a variety of sources from across the enterprise. Those that can turn this flood of data into actionable insights will gain competitive advantage.

• Enterprise Security: Always a concern for organizations; even with attention on lost or stolen consumer information, many organizations still have gaping holes in their security processes. Often, security takes a backseat to getting projects done and deployed as quickly as possible.

There also are two emerging areas that are gaining traction within insurance and financial services firms, and that bear watching:

• Enterprise 2.0/Social Networking: You’re probably familiar with online phenomena such as Facebook and Twitter. Now, we’re starting to see a convergence between Web 2.0, SOA and enterprise computing.

• Cloud computing: Companies access services and compute power either provided by third parties outside the firewall, or provided by their IT departments from within “private clouds.”

These are just some of the trends shaping enterprise computing within the industry that we’ll be discussing. I hope you will check back daily and join in on the discussions we will be hosting on important topics.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology. He can be reached at

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