The year is coming to a close, and what a year it's been. The news was dominated by the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the disastrous front-end website implementations. At tech conferences, big data was the term du jour, but not all in a positive light—the ongoing revelations of how the National Security Agency was using big data to become the biggest snoop in world history. Thus, privacy and security moved to the forefront of concerns. 

With this in mind, here are some of the information technology lessons we can take away from the year 2013:

1. Never, ever, stake the fate of your project on version 1.0. Technologists and enterprise software users have known this for years, but the Obama administration had some egg on its face with the ACA health insurance exchange portal rollouts. They were buggy, insecure and were missing links to back-end data repositories. The act of rolling out game-changing enterprise systems should ascribe to agile principles — meaning working closely with end-users on small, staged, incremental rollouts. The federal ACA designers broke every rule in the book, deploying a massive health insurance exchange system all at once.

2. Big data can run amok. Big data analytics is a key technology for fighting insurance fraud and abuse but, ironically, also opens up new doors for fraud and abuse. As organizations rely more and more on data analytics to drive their businesses, the potential for fraud and abuse increases. Not just from hackers, but from handlers within organizations and vendors on the outside who may not have the same best practices and training as data center operators. Organizations learned that strategies such as encryption and employee training may help make data more secure.

3. No one is in charge of the digital enterprise — yet. As insurers work to evolve to digital enterprises —meaning they are tying decision making into big data analytics, and are employing social media to connect customers and employees in a profound way — it's not clear who's in charge. There is evidence that marketing executives are taking the lead in this area, growing their own technology departments to manage these opportunities.

4. Cloud is as mainstream as you can get. For insurers, many edge-of-the-enterprise applications — including email, collaboration, content management, productivity tools and business apps — are candidates for cloud. Many insurers who were nervous about cloud a couple of years back now have no issue with employing cloud to handle these tasks. Core insurance systems, such as policy management and underwriting, aren’t cloudified yet, but it may not be a big deal when they eventually are.

5. Mobile computing is almost the default form of computing. Many developers are building their innovations on mobile platforms first, then porting them to traditional desktop computers. Many tablet computers have been popping up within insurance companies, and are essentially the new laptop.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access