It's no secret that for insurers, aligning technology staffs and business units into a full partnership has been challenging. Frederick Matteson, the newly appointed chief information officer for Novato, Calif.-based Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., isn't able to fully grasp the automation-related woes that have bedeviled insurers. That's because Matteson has deftly been able to avoid them himself.Having spent a number of years as an executive in the brokerage industry, Matteson championed the concept of total alignment between IT and business long before it became commonplace. A proponent of disciplined strategic scenario planning, Matteson has a keen sense of determining early on whether to expand or reduce a corporatewide initiative, including those centered on information technology.

The formulation of these disciplines occurred while Matteson served as an executive at powerhouses such as Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers. "At Schwab, business strategies lead the way, with IT providing infrastructural support," he says. "We had 300 people in the electronic brokerage department who developed products. As a result, they felt like owners. You see this in various pockets of insurance, but it's more of an evolving concept there," he says.

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