Celent's annual US and European CIO/CTO surveys saw insurance executives on both sides of the Atlantic continuing to focus on improving the customer/broker experience by investing in new business solutions, upgrading core systems, and streamlining operations. However, US CIOs show greater concern about the impact of a softening market in the coming year.
In a new report, Insurance CIO/CTO Pressures, Priorities, Projects, and Plans 2008: The View Across the Atlantic, Celent provides a comparative analysis of behaviors, initiatives, challenges, and priorities for 2008 between insurers in the United States and Europe. Based on in-depth surveys of 43 CIOs and CTOs from the US and Europe at the end of 2007, its findings provide insights on general priorities and business pressures, budgets and staffing, platforms and technology choices, service-oriented architecture (SOA) and Web services, outsourcing, and web 2.0 technologies.
The 2008 surveys saw rising concerns about growth during a potential global recession, especially among US CIOs. Expense control has also become a frequently cited business pressure for this group. But until the full impact of the slowdown in the US economy becomes clear, both US and European insurers are continuing to pursue the IT investment trends Celent saw last year, with core systems replacement and e-business initiatives remaining paramount. Large insurers' IT budgets are projected to remain stable in 2008, while midsize insurers' budgets may be more volatile. Insurers in both regions are also continuing their gradual migration off the mainframe to more modern architectures.
"The greatest difference between regions continues to be Europe's heavier reliance on outsourcing and external contractors," says Ashley Evans , an analyst in Celent's insurance practice and one of the authors of the report. "This is reflected in the staffing mixes of both areas. European insurers are able to maintain lower IT headcounts relative to their company size." However, survey results suggest that IT staff headcounts in the US may fall this year, given insurers' renewed focus on expense control.