The pronouncement in my inbox seems dire: “Ovum predicts no relief for Insurance sector in 2013.” Why no relief? The consultancy predicts that the economic stress that taxed the industry this year—unemployment and low rates of economic growth—will continue through next year.
The takeaway from this is that insurance companies will lean even more heavily on their IT departments to ratchet up innovation and efficiency. “A focus on mobile solutions, advanced analytics and near-real-time systems will be key,” Ovum's latest report states.
Here's how it will play out:
“Technology will play a central role in helping to combat falling revenues, with insurers focusing on strengthening channel management and making better decisions through analytics. It will be essential for insurers to optimize their core administration systems and make use of advanced analytics in order to remain competitive in the modern insurance market. Remaining in regulatory compliance will also become more of a pressing issue as deadlines for key regulations draw nearer.”
IT to the rescue again? Technology played a key part in enabling organizations to manage through the financial hurricane of 2008-2009, providing new, low-cost and efficient paths to new markets and opportunities. Many of today's IT projects are designed to either increase business opportunities, such as analytics, or better streamline operations and assets, such as cloud and virtualization. In the 2008-2009 recession, and continuing into today, IT is seen as the enabler that will help companies manage through, and grow out of, any downturns or economic turbulence, versus being cost burdens.
I like the way one insurance executive put it at an industry meeting a couple of years back: “It’s during tough times that the business turns to IT for help with business objectives. It’s a time when IT can really shine.”
Whether the economy is cool, or in heated growth mode, well-thought-out technology implementations are the key to greater agility, increased performance, and more intelligence. Just remember, though, devices and software by themselves won't deliver anything. Yes, as Arthur C. Clarke so famously put it, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But it takes adroit and enlightened management, leading a motivated and skilled workforce, to make that magic happen.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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