A wise insurance executive-perhaps a chief information officer-once stated: "The strategies that worked for us in the past are the same ones that will cause us to fail in the future. That's because those strategies are only competitive for awhile."Carl Ascenzo, chief information officer for Boston-based Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, didn't deliver this proclamation, but he easily could have. Over the years, in a career spent at Aetna Health Plan and PriceWater-houseCoopers before coming to BCBSMA, Ascenzo has seen things that were seemingly built to last fall by the wayside.

For instance, he has seen companies push proprietary systems out to their constituents, believing they would provide a competitive advantage. He also watched corporations offer Web self-service capabilities to customers, believing that as long as they build it-and however they build it-they would come.

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