6 Predictions for the Year Ahead
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 28, 2010
The year 2010 was a transitional year for insurance technology. The industry began to emerge from the economic hurricane that blew through in the 2007-2009 timeframe. But the landscape coming out of the recession was vastly changed from that going in. In the year ahead, business and IT managers will need to make sense of this changed environment, and how to move business forward. One thing is certain: Technology will play the most prominent role in all efforts.
Here are six areas that will be in the spotlight over the coming year:
1. IT's role shifts from cost cutter to business growth engine. As a cost-management tool, IT did a stellar job through the worst of the downturn. Insurance services were delivered or were maintained at full pace, though operations were pared down, with industry staffing levels either holding steady or declining. Not only were companies able to operate smarter, but also were able to take advantage of analytic capabilities not available during previous slumps to better sense where the market was going. Now, as signs of economic recovery abound, technology needs to be positioned for the growth phase ahead.
2. Business intelligence as a new business enabler. Business intelligence and analytics will provide the competitive differentiation in what promises to be a noisier, more hectic market than anyone has ever experienced.
3. Big data gets even bigger. Insurance companies are already wrestling with enormous volumes of data that are overwhelming systems and capacities of end users to manage and make sense of it. Nowadays, most companies deal with terabytes worth of data. Ten years ago, it was jaw-dropping to see a company hit the 1 terabyte threshold. This year, more companies will be passing the petabyte mark. On the technology side, look for more technology strategies, such as Apache Hadoop—designed for managing large systems—to emerge to tackle these challenges.
4. Corporate implementations of the “app store” model. Steve Jobs and Apple put the “app store” concept on the map, providing a safe, secure and standardized way to post applications on a director for download by anyone needing or desiring given functionality. Now, companies are experimenting with their own internal “app stores,” to provide employees and other end users a way to build functionality and complete processes to do their jobs. Corporate app stores will provide repositories of internal apps, as well as outside apps from the cloud.
5. Resurgence of service-oriented architecture. SOA over the years had many hits and misses, many supporters and detractors. But as reliance on cloud services (both from within the company and externally) emerges, companies are aware that they need to intelligently assemble their clouds into a governable, secure business-responsive architecture.
6. Private clouds will create new security concerns. For years, everyone has been worried about the damage outside hackers could wreak on data and privacy. Security is a show-stopper for many public cloud engagements. Now, with the rise of private clouds, the danger of internal data breaches grows exponentially. As the recent WikiLeaks episode blatantly reveals, any employee with inside access could walk away with sensitive data on a thumb drive. As applications and data become more available across the enterprise via a cloud service layer, companies will be under pressure to develop better internal controls and mechanisms to prevent exposure of sensitive data.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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