Imagine reaching deep into a seemingly bottomless bucket filled with marbles. One cat's eye is hidden in the massive assortment, and it's your job to pull it out-in one try.Retrieving that prize won't be easy. In a similar vein, many a reader has expressed frustration at the pressures associated with finding a way to implement the right technology for the right application at the right price-in the shortest time possible. They've also talked about outright fear at the prospect of failure to achieve those goals.

For many of you in charge of making critical business decisions that affect your company's ability to leverage technology to remain competitive, it's a matter of following a systematic approach-from strategic to tactical-and exercising due diligence.

Approaches vary among individuals, but in our research for this month's story on vendor relationships (p. 32), we found that readers agreed the recipe calls for one essential ingredient: checking solution provider references.

In our efforts to provide the information you need to make the best possible technology decisions, we hereby shamelessly promote INN's InsureTopTech 2007, INN's first-annual impartial, unbiased ranking of insurance technology providers.

From now through the end of January, insurers are asked to name the top technology firms and service providers across several categories. We're looking for the suppliers that add the most value to the task of meeting insurers' company objectives, including-but not limited to-supporting insurance operations, developing products and optimizing workflow.

You'll also be asked to name the up-and-coming firms you believe to be important new entrants or firms you are considering as a new provider. You, the voice of the insurance market, will determine the InsureTopTech 2007 ranking.

With controls in place to guarantee against "fudging," the survey mechanism, data gathering and analysis of results will be conducted by our InsureTopTech partner, Framingham, Mass.-based Financial Insights, an IDC company. Results will be made public at the ACORD LOMA meeting in Orlando in May 2007.

And in the same spirit of providing the information you need to make the best possible technology decisions, we invite readers, vendors, consultants and analysts alike to participate in INN's first annual INNovator of the Year program (p. 17). Here, we are looking for best practices-top insurance carrier innovations. It could be a person, a team or an entire insurance company effort. The winner will be honored at the IASA meeting in Minneapolis in June.

InsureTopTech and the INNovator of the Year will be of value to you only if you vote. Help us help you find the cat's eye by voting for your most trusted technology source and your best practice insurance "INNovator" at

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