The insurance industry has long been known for its relatively conservative stance on technology, which has always meant a lot of legacy systems around and slower-than-average adoption of the latest and greatest technologies.

Perhaps that’s not a bad thing.

More often than not, new technologies get oversold and overhyped beyond reason. Companies are lured in, spending oodles of money on functions and features they don’t really use to their full advantage.

Take cloud computing, for example. David Linthicum, the industry’s thought leader from the earliest days of enterprise application integration, says cloud providers are pushing a lot of bells and whistles that don’t necessary assure value at this stage of the game.

“The public cloud providers are pushing predictive analytics, machine learning, IoT, and other shiny, new toys,” he says in a recent post at InfoWorld. “But IT leaders simply want to get their workloads running properly in the cloud. The newer, innovative stuff is not that important right now.”

In other words, at the early to adolescent stages of technology shifts, stick to the fundamentals – things such as security, throughput, and service-level agreements. As Linthicum explains, migrating enterprise-scale applications to a new platform likely maintained by outsiders is enough of a challenge, without attempting to bolt on or move to new paradigms in the middle of things.

“The stress on enterprises these days means there is very little time for innovation,” he says. “IT has been tasked with moving thousands of workloads to the cloud, but given little time to do it.”

The fancier stuff will come later, as enterprises regain their footing with the new arrangements with their cloud providers. Focus on the basics when making such a big move -- “the rest is fluff,” Linthicum says.

How to keep your feet on the ground as you move along in your cloud journey:

  • Let the business drive technology decisions, and understand their pain points. IT leaders may have a lot of great ideas – or have been briefed by vendors – on new capabilities available through cloud, such as the ability to manage gargantuan data sets and run the show with artificially intelligent algorithms. Are these the capabilities the business needs to move forward? As any seasoned veteran of enterprise software deployments knows, it’s best to work closely with business partners on small pilot projects to see where things go. If these smaller efforts pay off, the rest of the business takes notice.

  • Take a good, hard look at the case studies – and follow up with users cited. Vendors will tell you they are capability of delivery everything and anything. It’s best to sit down with current users and see where, exactly the solution in mind has worked, and where it has been problematic.

  • Build solutions to change, not to last. Bear in mind that the infrastructures and the architectures they’re based on need to be as flexible and adaptable as possible. Five years ago, cloud computing and big data were experimental concepts. These days, everyone is talking about artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain. Who knows what will be the solutions of choice five years from now? Don’t lock into solution sets that may not pan out as vendors claim they will.

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