A CIO's work is never ending. Insurance officers are presented with new challenges every year, and it takes savvy and intuition to address not only what's presently pressing, but also to predict what dilemmas are beyond the horizon.

To this end, Boston-based Celent surveys insurer CIOs annually about their pressures, plans and priorities for the coming year. This year's report, "2009 U.S. Insurance CIO Survey: Pressures, Priorities, and Practices," details the responses of 33 CIOs compiled in October and November 2008 - the same time the financial crisis prevailed upon the insurance industry.

According to the report, three business issues will dominate the concerns of insurance CIOs in 2009. For the second year in a row, growing the business is the top issue for property/casualty carriers, and is tied for top issue for life/health insurers.

Cost reduction (tied for top issue for life/health insurers) is the second-most important issue, which is not shocking, given that revenue is currently down and expenses, therefore, must also go down.

Finally, distribution is the third-most important problem. Expense control also is inherent to proper management of distribution channels. Most of the benefits of being a good business partner come from having higher retention of current business, and gaining a larger share of new business.

Celent notes that CIOs' top initiatives during 2009 will include new business, operational efficiency, core system replacement, pricing and product development, and data mastery. For life/health insurers, the biggest new project upon which carriers will devote assets is distribution, whereas for property/casualty insurers, it will be policy administration and policy service system replacement and operational improvements.

Over the next three years, the survey finds that CIOs anticipate using the z/OS and IBM i operating systems less, and Unix, Linux and Windows more - a trend that is much stronger among midsize and small insurers.

As for architecture frameworks, large carriers displayed a predilection for J2EE, while small and midsize insurers preferred .NET. Additionally, about two-thirds of all insurers reported having already incorporated service-oriented architectures and Web services in mission-critical production systems.

(c) 2009 Insurance Networking News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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