Life insurance CIOs need to stay on top of technology trends, initiatives and challenges in the industry. Recently, LOMA asked five CIOs to discuss these, and the group turned the focus to communication and the pervasiveness of IT within companies.

"It starts with the way we communicate about technology," said Tim Schaefer, SVP and CIO, Northwestern Mutual. "Too often we focused on distinguishing IT from the rest of the business; now we are breaking down those walls to focus on commonalities."

In addition to Schaefer, the CIO panel included Robert Casale, EVP and CIO, MassMutual; Doug Fisk, VP and CIO, US Solutions, The Principal Financial Group; Joseph Cooper, EVP, global services, and CIO, Manulife Financial; and Greg Driscoll, VP and CIO, Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company.

There was a consensus surrounding the expectations of IT to deliver enterprise value. The CIOs agreed that mobile apps, social media, cloud computing and other new technologies can all help insurers. "Mobility, including wireless, is very important," said Driscoll. "What we see in the macro environment must be continually considered and assessed. Market penetration of mobile devices and the ability for connectivity everywhere is fueling a growing expectation across all our stakeholders."

Several CIOs mentioned the growing importance of analytics to provide the critical data needed by decision-makers for, again, all aspects of the business. "The typical view of the customer service experience has been forever changed by companies like Apple and Amazon," said Casale. "This has raised the bar for all companies—regardless of industry—and thus we are keenly focused on creating capabilities to enhance the overall customer service experience."

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