While the talent pool in the United States is large right now, finding the right talent can take some digging—especially when trying to find and keep the most appropriate talent necessary to keep up with the insurance industry’s changing technology.

According to survey results from Watson Wyatt, a consulting firm to insurance and financial services companies, many companies encompassing a variety of industries—insurance included--are planning to replace their manual talent management processes with automated ones that integrate compensation, recruiting, performance management, learning management, career development and succession planning.

Watson Wyatt’s “2009 HR Technology Trends Survey” found that more than half of companies (56%) are planning to use more talent management technology over the next 24 months. This software is used to recruit, screen, hire, track and manage applicants for employment.

“IT functions within the insurance industry have many challenges including increasing the efficiency of the operation, building/deploying more customer-centric and self-service systems, and trying to deal with potential knowledge drain from retirements and movements within the organization,” says Brian Wilkerson, global director of talent management at Watson Wyatt. “Talent management systems recently helped a large life insurance company determine the skills they had, where they had knowledge and skill risks, and how to most efficiently staff for both ongoing business and their many transformation projects. It gave them both the visibility and the decision support to find, keep, and develop the talent that they needed for their business priorities. Without the system, they likely would not have been able to come up with a comprehensive solution to their talent challenges.”

Another company that has taken advantage of talent management software is Sun Life Financial. The company implemented an automated system from Authoria Inc.

Sun Life formed an international, cross-functional team that worked together on a virtual basis, and included human resources professionals in each business group, IT leaders, and Authoria. The solution provides management with visibility into the skills, ambitions and mobility of existing talent and is able to track candidate availability against current and future business needs.

The Watson Wyatt survey found that about half of companies still use a manual approach for many talent management processes, including succession planning (53%), career development (48%) and workforce planning (55%). These three areas also have relatively low levels of employer satisfaction—only 20% are satisfied with the functionality of their succession planning processes, 18% with the functionality of their career development processes and 13% with the functionality of their workforce planning processes.

“For many employers, talent management is made up of several separate processes that need to be manually tracked and updated—sometimes with a different person managing each,” says Wilkerson. “Creating programs that integrate some or even all talent management components into one common technology platform would be a major step in the right direction.”

Among the companies that are planning to use more talent management technology over the next 24 months, 46 % said they plan to integrate their existing technologies or leverage their current integrated systems, while 27% will start from scratch with a new integrated suite.



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