X by 2, an insurance industry consulting firm, issued a series of predictions for the insurance technology initiatives in the year ahead. They're all good predictions, but one really jumped out at me: that this is the year of execution, that everyone rolls up their sleeves at gets started with all the grand things that have been talked about over the past couple of years — especially cloud and big data analytics.
When it comes to tech, there is a tendency for the hype-y stuff to be at least three years ahead of what's actually happening on the ground. In the late 1990s, you could be forgiven for thinking all companies had morphed to the dot-com model, and had switched their residences to the Internet. The reality was that most companies at the time were still either piloting their Internet presence, or had relatively simple things going on, such as a basic intranet and a relatively flat website run outside of the corporate mainstream.
Gartner regularly documents this phenomenon in it's famous hype cycle, noting that technology developments tend to first rapidly move up to the pinnacle of hype (“peak of inflated expectations”), then plunge into the “trough of disillusionment.” Hitting the trough ends the hype, but it certainly doesn’t end the adoption of the technology. The innovation then steadily climbs — likely over a period of years — to the “plateau of productivity.”
Nowadays, everyone is talking about cloud and big data analytics. You would think everyone is doing it. But surveys I have been involved with find that maybe about 35 percent of companies are using private cloud in some capacity, and about 25 percent are using public cloud services for core enterprise applications. So there's still a lot of work to be done.
So this is the year when things go off the peaks of hype and enter the phase when IT managers roll up their sleeves to make these wonderful technologies work.
And this is the year when sleeves start getting rolled up on all the cloud and big data innovations that have been hyped in recent years. As X by 2 CIO Advocate Frank Petersmark puts it, 2014 will be the year when “X marks the spot” — with X standing for execution.
"Patience has its limits, even in the sometimes frustratingly patient insurance industry," Petersmark says. “This year will be all about executing on the many transformative initiatives in play at many insurers — core systems, business intelligence and analytics, and customer facing portals and platforms -- to name a few. The pressure is on in 2014 to execute, execute, and execute!"
Additional predictions from X by 2 include:
- More self service, both for customers and internal employees.
- Emphasis shifts to “small data,” looking for single views of customers.
- More tightly integrated suite offerings from technology insurance vendors.
- Fewer data scientists, more “storytellers” who can put information into actionable contexts.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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