Madison, Wis. — American Family Insurance has restructured its information services division, the company reports. The move comes as a result of a study of technology leadership organizations at Fortune 500 firms, a company spokesperson said, and reflects a growing trend in Tier 1 insurance companies—restructuring of IT with the goal of optimizing business strategies and operational performance.

Byrne Chapman, manager of American Family’s IS division since 1999, has been reassigned to the role of VP, overseeing the company’s technology operations and infrastructure.

“We determined that it's impossible for one technology executive to handle both jobs,” Rick Fetherston, VP of public relations, was quoted as saying in a news report published by Wisconsin Technology Network, Verona, Wis. “Byrne had 14 direct reports, and that's impossible. He now will have eight direct reports, and the CIO will have six.”

American Family’s Fetherston said Chapman excelled in trying to manage both the strategic and operational areas, but the company feels his strengths are best aligned with the technology operations and infrastructure role.

At American Family, Chapman’s reassignment will create a vacancy, so the company will look to fill the position of VP of IS—chief information officer with a business and strategic orientation and an external focus. The person would be responsible for interpreting market trends and identifying strategies to use technology in ways that give American Family a competitive advantage.

American Family joins other insurers that are taking a second look at corporate structure as it applies to supporting business strategies. In May 2007, Juan Conde joined Bloomfield, Conn.-based CIGNA HealthCare as CIO.

Like American Family, Cigna created a new position for Conde, who is responsible for the IT strategy and delivery of CIGNA's consumer-focused technology solutions. Yet unlike American Family’s decision to separate technology operations and infrastructure from a business and strategic orientation, Conde's focus will be two-fold: to support a larger business strategy that makes the best possible use of information technology to help improve the health, wellbeing and security of CIGNA HealthCare members.

Conde has spent much of his 20-year career managing financial company IT organizations in industries where consumerism is a way of life, the company reported.

Sources: American Family, Wisconsin Technology Network, INN Archives

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