Tools that connect businesses to their customers and suppliers are making us more efficient, more responsive and changing the way business gets done. But these tools also are creating exposures to complex risks that didn’t exist a few years ago.

Cloud computing is just one part of the consumerization of information technology. Social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) technologies also are changing enterprise IT radically.

Understanding this complexity and managing the inherent risks faced by businesses that are heavily dependent on IT infrastructure and critical information exchange, such as financial institutions and health care is critical.

That’s why in March of 2013, CNA brought together professionals from CNA information technology (IT), underwriting, claim and risk control to facilitate our first-ever “cloud school.” More than 40 agents, brokers and insureds attended. 

The agenda included examining trends in the enterprise software environment, discussing increased risks related to security, privacy and interruption of IT services and exploring best practices for assessing and managing these risks in enterprise software vendor relationships.

We knew people would be reluctant to share personal experiences, so we used ourselves as an example.

CNA had moved to a managed services model several years ago, which means our IT staff now works side-by-side with our technology vendors, who are exactly like the technology clients many of our agents and brokers serve.

As a result, our IT staff was able to offer real world insights into best practices in evaluating vendors and managing the risks these increasingly complex relationships present.

Some examples included:

  • Making sure the scope of work is well defined and understood by all parties.
  • Engaging legal counsel with expertise to negotiate terms, conditions and service level agreements (SLAs).
  • Aligning SLAs with third party providers with customer requirements.
  • Including formal change control processes.
  • Including recovery time objectives (RTO) and recovery point objectives (RPO) in SLAs.
  • Defining the support coverage available during outages.
  • Ensuring customer / user responsibilities are clear.
  • Establishing formal business continuity plans, with clear roles, responsibilities and communications.
  • Reviewing SLAs periodically to ensure business needs are met.

With technology evolving every day, we learn something new at each and every cloud school. But one thing remains consistent, the cross pollination of ideas between IT vendor management, underwriting, claim and risk control produces valuable new insight each time we conduct this session.
Cloud school is open to agents and brokers who want to learn more about emerging technology risks that their clients face. It is a free session, and agents are encouraged to bring their clients to take part in this educational opportunity.

The next Cloud School is scheduled to take place in New York on November 13th, 2013. 

This blog has been published with permission from CNA Insurance.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Valynda Murphy directly at, or using the “Add Your Comments” box below.

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

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