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For CIOs, the Best Offense is a Good Defense

Mike Fitzgerald | January 12, 2015

There are two aspects to the issue of what CIOs need to do to improve their relationship with the CEO: defense and offense.

First, from a defensive position, CIOs must make sure that their relationship with the CEO does not deteriorate. The best way to do this is to “keep the lights on” (deliver reliable IT services) and keep the CEO off cable news (avoid a data security breach). Just these activities alone can consume most of a CIOs time and can, if he/she is not careful, eat up all of it.

Second, in terms of moving the relationship to a higher level of value, the CIO must engage their boss around the issue of “how will technology affect their business?” The CIO is uniquely positioned to identify specifically, where technology will move the insurance transaction from the traditional model of indemnity (pay when a loss occurs) to one of loss avoidance (or loss mitigation).

These conversations will vary depending on the insurer’s targeted market. For example, CIOs in these lines of businesses should engage their boss on discussions such as:

  • P&C Commodity products (personal lines, small commercial): How can we use technology to add value-added services to our products through partners in order to avoid only competing on price? How can we introduce higher switching costs based on the strongest network of partners the highest level of integration with them in the industry?
  • Mid-market commercial lines: What is impact of the Internet of Things (IoT) on our customers? How will the risk profile of our manufacturing clients change as they implement their version GE model of the industrial Internet? How can we out-select and out-price our competitors accordingly?
  • Life/Health coverage: How can we use public data sources to speed and simplify the underwriting process? What can lifestyle factors, including health and activity tracking in real time, do to help improve the quality of both decisions and pricing in our business? What is our business process to identify new data sources and evaluate their potential usefulness?

No one else in the organization is so well-positioned to assist the CEO with these matters. Doing so will only increase the value of the CIO and, by default, the relationship between these senior leaders.


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