Only five short years ago, insurers were scrambling to get their IT systems ready for Y2K. This year, they're at the cusp of implementing enterprise solutions that leverage component-based software across the organization, saving them significantly in both IT development and maintenance costs."Before 2000, I conducted approximately 100 Y2K risk assessments in the industry," says Deborah Smallwood, insurance practice leader at TowerGroup Inc., Needham, Mass. "The common themes were: What is your vision? What is your strategy? Do you have your arms around your portfolio? And they all failed. In the course of five years, insurers have come a long way."

This current assessment is based on Smallwood's recent qualitative, interview-based research of five large insurance carriers, which is published in a report titled, "Bridging the Competitive Gap: The Value of IT as the Insurance Business Transforms."

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