Vision. Insight. Introspection. Anything but the formulaic.
    • Health information exchanges: The future is now for life insurers
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review November 2017 Yunus Burhani

      At its core, life insurance underwriting hasn’t changed much. It still involves a complex process to assess an individual’s health and longevity risks. What has changed, and what continues to evolve, are the tools, techniques, and information available to perform such assessments.  In this article X by 2’s Yunus Burhani provides some actionable approaches and techniques for automating some key life insurance processes.

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    • Modern Business Intelligence for a Modern World
      Insurance Innovation Reporter November 2017 Zahid Ansari

      Modern BI is about business enablement, consumable dashboards, visual data discovery, self-service, leveraging the data capabilities of traditional BI, and producing insightful analytics that are both timely and actionable.  In this article X by 2’s Zahid Ansari discusses the benefits of moving your BI efforts to the next level via a Modern BI approach.  

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    • The Cost of Ignoring the Metadata Opportunity
      Insurance Canada November 2017 Roy Pollack

      Let’s get this out up front. The point of this article is not to sell anyone’s Metadata Tool Suite. Nor is it to try to sell anyone’s Metadata Consulting Services. The point of this article is to sell something, however, and that something is an idea. The idea that some of the costs associated with maintaining metadata are not only justifiable but also, in fact, constitute a worthy investment.  X by 2’s Roy Pollack on the financial and data quality merits of investing in Metadata tools.

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    • EMR data integration: Still a long way to go
      HIT Leaders & News October 2017 Bill Sun

      The advent of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) has been a boon to the operational and analytical abilities of healthcare analytics firms and medical providers, allowing them to more accurately document, track and create the analytics required to better care for patients. However,  for all its benefits—realized and potential—the process of aggregating and consuming EMR (and its offspring the Electronic Health Records or EHR) information is still problematic at best.  In this article X by 2’s Bill Sun examines the issues and offers some actionable solutions for dealing with EMR data integration and analytics.  

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    • Size matters when it comes to core systems modernization
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review October 2017 Dominic Mersino

      When it comes to core systems modernization, many small and medium-size insurers have found themselves between a rock and a hard place.  Most all recognize the many benefits of upgrading to more capable and functional policy, claims and billing systems, but many lack the resources – human and financial – to accomplish it as quickly as they’d like to.  In this article X by 2’s Dominic Mersino offers some practical and pragmatic suggestions for smaller insurers as they embark on their core systems modernization journeys.  

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    • Automating a little can help a lot
      HIT Leaders & News September 2017 David Mitzel

      Hospitals are nothing if not busy places. Doctors, nurses, patients, families, and support staff make up the human fabric of the daily life at any hospital system. And undergirding all of these stakeholders and activities is another sort of lifeblood for the hospital – data and information. The reliance on information has become the way that hospitals operate, and creating, organizing, and optimizing information on a real time basis is an operational imperative for any hospital system. In this article X by 2's David Mitzel suggests some best practice approaches for quickly automating the medical file load process as part of any hospital’s overall data quality improvement efforts.

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    • Non-Core Insurance System Modernization Matters Too: Part Three – Sustainability
      Insurance Innovation Reporter September 2017 Priyanga Manoharan

      The primary problem with maintaining non-core systems after their production implementation is that they are non-core systems and because of that, will never get the priority and resource dedication that core systems typically get.  That’s a problem and a mistake as it’ll just cause preventable problems down the road.  In part three of this series, X by 2’s Priyanga Manoharan discusses how with the proper planning and execution, any insurer’s non-core systems should be humming as well as any of their core systems—perhaps even better.

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    • Avoiding Communication Breakdowns
      Insurance Canada August 2017 Hatim Kader

      There’s an old real-estate adage that claims the three most important elements in any real estate sale are all the same one: location, location, location.  The same can be said for the practice of consulting by replacing the word “location” with the word that represents the most important element of consulting: communication.  X by 2's Katim Kadir offers experiential and actionable insights on improving the chances for project success by applying the appropriate communications approach.  It's a must-read for project managers, project and team leads, and anybody else charged with managing and implementing projects.  

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    • Non-Core Insurance System Modernization Matters Too: Part Two – Contracts & Implementation
      Insurance Innovation Reporter August 2017 Priyanga Manoharan

      In part two of his three part article, X by 2’s Priyanga Manoharan focuses on two of the other elements necessary for modernizing non-core systems: contracts and implementation. The premise of these articles is to provide a framework – along with some practical tips and techniques - that insurers can use to treat their non-core system acquisitions and implementations as if they were core systems, but adjusted for scale and scope.  

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    • A Short Guide to Emerging Website Architectures
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review August 2017 Jeff Sallans

      It’s no secret that mobile applications and games have upped the ante on the kinds of interactive experiences that customers have come to expect.  Several years ago that front- end experience was limited to relatively static websites that, while rendering useful information and some connectivity, were dull for the customer and tedious for the architect or developer to maintain and update.  That has all changed.  X by 2's Jeff Sallan's discusses the latest architectural tools designed to create dynamic and interactive mobile experiences for customers.  

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    • Non-Core Insurance System Modernization Matters Too: Part One, Assessment
      Insurance Innovation Reporter July 2017 Priyanga Manoharan

      In the rush to core systems modernization, many insurers neglect all of the non-core systems they have that provide much of their day-to-day operational capability.  With all of the core systems activity, however, the need to similarly modernize non-core systems remains, and many insurers have struggled with how to approach and scale their efforts for systems that don’t quite have the bulk or the sizzle the newer core systems have.  In this three-part article, X by 2's Priyanga Manahoran suggests an approach for dealing with non-core systems in a way that matches the resources and efforts required to the potential benefits derived.

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    • Why Clinical Document Architecture doesn't solve data quality issues
      Health Data Management July 2017 Mohammed Hussain

      Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), for all its promises of better-organized and better quality data analytics, has some problems.  To start, it’s no secret – technical or otherwise – that health care data has a quality problem.  In fact, almost no one would argue that health data is at present, anything but garbage, at least from a developer’s perspective. In this insightful article, X by 2's Mohammed Hussain casts a developer's eye on the problems with CDA, and offers some helpful hints to deal with them.

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    • Healthcare data sharing is only as good as your data standards
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review June 2017 Saifuddin Bughat

      While there is a well-established standards approach for medical treatment coding, healthcare data standards are noticeably lacking. That is important because standards are the essential ingredient for optimizing advanced analytics and the information value derived from a well-designed standards structure.  In this article X by 2's Saifuddin Bughat provides a roadmap for implementing data standards that enable actionable analytics.

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    • The Bigger They Are, The Tougher The Talent
      HIT Leaders & News June 2017 David Packer

      Finding and keeping talented people for critical business technology programs and projects remains a difficult challenge across the insurance industry. When it comes to large, transformational type efforts, the talent problem gets even more difficult.  In this article X by 2's David Packer suggests an approach for identifying and retaining the talent necessary to ensure large program or project success.

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    • Life Insurance Applications: A Better Way
      Insurance Canada May 2017 Yunus Burhani

      Like the rest of the insurance industry, life insurers are racing to become more innovative as a way to improve the overall customer experience.  While it’s fair to say that life insurers are lagging behind the health and property and casualty verticals when it comes to innovation and customer engagement, there still are inroads being made.  That said, there’s room for lot more improvement.  In this article, X by 2 senior software architect Yunus Burhani suggests an approach for improving service by improving the initial application process for life insurance.  

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    • Architecting an Agile Enterprise
      ITA Pro April 2017 Samir Ahmed

      In the insurance industry, be it life, health or P&C, the need to innovate is dire. Disruption is the word of the hour. Discussions around innovations in core systems, business processes, omnichannel experience for producers and policyholders, and digitization (e.g. e-application, e-signature, e-delivery, etc.) abound.  The common thread weaving through all of these discussions is the role of technology: It is expected to lead the charge.  In this article X by 2’s Samir Ahmed offers some experiential advice on how to apply the principles of agile to technology innovation. 

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    • How Neglecting Non-Functional Requirements Makes Systems Non-Functional
      Insurance Innovation Reporter March 2017 Matt Flores

      Over the long term, it’s more often than not that the non-functional capabilities of a system that determine its value and lifespan, and whether or not the company views it as a success, or just another sub-optimal delivery from IT.  X by 2’s Matt Flores explores the pitfalls of focusing too little on non-functional requirements during system upgrades and implementations, and offers suggestions of how to avoid this costly trap.  

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    • To Train or Not to Train?
      X by 2 Blog March 2017 Mohammed Hussain

      Many consulting companies, especially the smaller ones, face a conundrum when it comes to training: Is it better to offer formal training on particular skills or technologies, or allow new consultant hires to less formally acquire the skills they need as they become part of client engagements?

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    • The Key to (Small) Project Management: Keep it Simple
      Insurance Innovation Reporter February 2017 Jeff Sallans

      It seems that there are plenty of articles about the practices and patterns used for managing a project. Most focus on the standard best practices approach for organizing and documenting a project. But what if it's a small project, or an ad hoc project that wasn't necessarily planned for? Can a methodology be slimmed down to something that fits the needs of a smaller project, but still provides enough structure to effectively manage it? X by 2's Jeff Sallans suggests a methodological approach for effectively and efficiently managing small projects.  

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    • When it Comes to Large Projects, Think Architecture First
      Insurance Canada January 2017 Oleg Sadykhov

      Large information technology programs are often multiyear initiatives with large teams and large budgets. Unfortunately such an approach does not guarantee success given the challenges that large teams pose from a management and cohesiveness perspective. X by 2 Principal Oleg Sadykhov suggests that focusing on architecture first can be an effective way of overcoming the large team blues.  

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    • The Key to Modernization? Do the Opposite
      ITA Pro December 2016 David Packer and Oleg Sadykhov

      The insurance industry has a widely varying range of success when it comes to delivering modernization programs. Principals, Dave Packer and Oleg Sadykhov suggest the road to success may be to do the opposite of the industry norms.  

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    • Treat Insurance Project Managers Like QBs
      Insurance Networking News December 2016 Krishna Prasad

      Seasoned insurance project managers are necessary to large IT transformation initiative success.  Architect, Krishna Prasad compares inexperienced project managers to young NFL quarterbacks who often struggle initially but with adequate time can thrive under intense pressure. 

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    • When Millennials Say Yes to Life Insurance: Are We Ready For It?
      Insurance Innovation Reporter December 2016 Samir Ahmed

      Among millennials, key life events such as marriage and having children is increasingly being delayed.  Subsequently the consideration to purchase life insurance is also being postponed. So how can life insurers attract the nation's largest living generation? For Samir Ahmed, Sr. Architect at X by 2, start with the products.

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    • Riding The Herd To Transformational Success
      Health IT Outcomes December 2016 Qasim Hussain

      Large system transformation initiatives often fail. Why? There are many reasons, but many fail as a result of the effects of a kind of herd mentality.

      Once a big initiative takes off there is no longer any room or tolerance for countervailing voices. The momentum is enormous and changing course is like trying to stop a runaway train. Mistakes often get swept under the rug of teamwork and collaboration, even if just for the sake of teamwork and collaboration. In this article, Qasim Hussain, Principal and Sr. Architect at X by 2 discusses how to avoid being snared in this trap.

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    • EIM: The Journey to Enterprise Information Management
      Health Data Management November 2016 Ahsan Siddiqi, Syed Haider

      It’s the conundrum of the information age. As the velocity of data increases and the demand for and consumption of that data in organizations intensifies, many organizations find themselves struggling to manage all of their data effectively and keep pace with data volume, velocity and variety. As a result, many organizations have created data coping mechanisms to try and keep up, but in the end, they just fall further behind. In this series, X by 2 Architects Ahsan Siddiqi and Syed Haider examine how the implementation of a holistic and unified Enterprise Information Management (EIM) strategy can put organizations on course for information management excellence.

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    • Pioneers vs. Settlers: Which Expedition Should I Join?
      Insurance-Canada October 2016 Sreedhar Alavalapati

      It is increasingly difficult for any organization, including insurers, to ignore the relentless pace of innovation in technology and its influence on operating models. This at a time when the convergence of key technologies like machine learning, networked sensors, and actuators and cloud based services is on the march disrupting multiple industries. Due to the ever-shorter cycles of these technological changes and shifts, it's time for CIOs to consider shifting their thinking

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    • Better Care Quality? It's All in the Data
      X by 2 Blog October 2016 Oleg Issers

      As with most things in life, the key is translating the concept into a working model. For hospitals to do this, they need to start by taking stock of their current data landscape.  Upon examination, they’ll likely find things like conflicting data from multiple sources, data not well organized or parsed, and data that cannot be leveraged for macro level views of an entire patient population.

      A good place to start, if none exists, is by creating an information architecture that describes the how, where, what, and why as regards data in the hospital.  This will become the foundation for organizing and standardizing data, and if the corresponding data warehouse is built properly, will allow for streamlined data processes that exhibit efficiency and effectiveness.   For example, most payers send claims data to providers in a variety of disparate formats.  Some of that data has attributions to a primary care physician, some does not; some data indicates an affiliation with a provider organization, some does not; and some data some patient history as part of its claims format, while other data does not.  In total it places a lot of technology and administrative burden on the hospitals receiving the data. However, a strong information architecture that maps any data provided to standardized data fields and data formats almost immediately makes that data useful for analysis and action. 

      Additionally, a strong commitment to data integrity and quality through tools and processes is another critical element in an overall healthcare informatics approach.  A best practices approach is to build data quality assurance into the information architecture and then create the downstream processes that can bring it to fruition.  This is as much an organizational culture issue as it is a technology issue.  The more successful hospitals in this area have invested an abundance of time and resources into the kind of training and awareness that makes data quality everybody’s concern, and not just the concern of the IT department. 

      While admittedly a lot of work for any hospital or other healthcare provider, the results can pay organizational and competitive dividends for years and decades to come.  And as importantly, if not more so, the results of a well-executed healthcare informatics strategy can markedly improve the care provided across a patient population.  Providing a central repository for claims information, for instance, allows for a multitude of patient, provider, and payer analysis, along with the ability to recognize themes and trends across entire populations of key stakeholders.  This in turn enables better decision-making for proactively taking action toward favorable or unfavorable trends, and to recognize any quality of care issues while they are still manageable.  Further, a well-executed health informatics strategy sets the stage for such things as deriving quality of care measures and group then into provider categories, proactively identify the health of, and potential costs associated with, high-risk patients, and retroactively identify sub-optimal tests and procedures across a patient population. 

      Finally, many hospitals are levering their healthcare informatics approach for the kind of predictive analytics that, over time and experience, will provide an information competitive advantage for them.  So when it comes to executing that patient quality care strategic initiative, think data first.  

      About the Author

      With over 15 year’s experience, Oleg has specialized in Data and Systems Integration and has led the Design and Development of Custom Applications, Data Marts/Warehouses, and Automation Systems.  Oleg holds a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

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    • When Agile is a marathon instead of a sprint
      HIT Leaders & News August 2016 Dominic Mersino

      To say that Agile has taken over the insurance industry is a gross understatement. But shifting from a waterfall mentality to an agile mentality is not easy. In this feature, Architect and Program Lead Dominic Mersino examines the challenges (cultural not technical) that insurers face as they make the shift and the key elements required for a successful transition to Agile.

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    • Software Development is Like Toilet Training
      X by 2 Blog August 2016 David Mitzel

      Can parallels be drawn between teaching a toddler the basics of potty training and software development?  X by 2 Architect and father of two David Mitzel thinks so. In this blog, David walks us through his unique perspective for how software development can be like toilet training.

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    • Data’s Credibility Problem: It’s About The Quality, Not The Data – Part 2
      Health IT Outcomes June 2016 Syed Haider

      In part one of this article, X by 2 Architect Syed Haider described how health insurers should begin to position themselves for big data transformation – putting the quality of the data above anything else. In part two, Syed outlines the direct and indirect costs affiliated with ignoring data quality issues and proposes an enterprise-wide approach for addressing data quality issues. 

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    • Underwriting Modernization: Why a Holistic Approach is a Realistic Approach
      Insurance-Canada June 2016 Sreedhar Alavalapati

      Core system modernization continues to be a persistent trend in the insurance industry; and for good reason. However, can a modern system alone give carriers the desired competitive advantage and position them well to innovate and adapt in this period of disruption? Many P&C carriers have more systemic issues that a modern system will not be able to address. In this article, Sreedhar Alavalapati, Sr. Architect at X by 2, discusses the issues that carriers face and argues for taking a more holistic approach for carriers modernization efforts.

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    • Data’s Credibility Problem: It’s About The Quality, Not The Data – Part 1
      Health IT Outcomes April 2016 Syed Haider

      Big Data has made big promises and for many health insurers led to big letdowns. Why do big data transformations fall short? There are several perils that health insurers should be aware of, but in this article, Syed Haider – Sr. Architect at X by 2, focuses in on one of them… data quality.

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    • Integration architecture first for health payers
      HIT Leaders & News March 2016 Yasir Hussain

      For healthcare payers the IT landscape is changing at an increasing pace. As systems and solutions are introduced, Yasir Hussain, Principal and Sr. Architect at X by 2, explains why it’s important to incrementally invest in and give attention to integration architecture and infrastructure as well. 

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    • Why moving to the cloud is no longer a nice-to-have for health insurers
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review February 2016 Krishna Prasad

      Health Insurers no longer can ignore the need to move to the cloud.  Senior Architect, Krishna Prasad maintains that in order to stay competitive in the marketplace, cloud migration is inescapable.  

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    • Here are 5 Insurance Tech Trends You'll See This Year
      P&C 360 January 2016 Sreedhar Alavalapati and Krishna Prasada

      The more things change the more they seem to stay the same.  The same can certainly be said aid of the insurance industry over the past several years, as the introduction of new technological capabilities competed with the industry's ability to effectively absorb and leverage them.  For 2016, X by 2 Sr. Architects Sreedhar Alavalapati and Krishna Prasada look into their crystal balls to share some thoughts on the kinds of insurance technology trends we’re likely to see in 2016.

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    • Millennials Take the Wheel: Driving Healthcare to Rethink Patient Experience and Engagement
      HIT Leaders and News December 2015 David Ollila

      Millennials are driving companies and industries forward and forcing them to rethink the way they operate.  In this thought provoking piece, the Millennial generation’s David Ollila examines the ways in which his generation is reshaping the healthcare industry by redefining what “customer engagement” and “value-added service” means in the age of ubiquitous connectedness.  This is a must read for anybody whose focused on what their future customers will value.

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    • Improving Payer-Provider Collaboration to Improve Patient Care
      Becker's Health IT & CIO Review November 2015 Yunus Burhani

      The relationship between payers and providers has traditionally been a bit rocky, with payers judging providers based on the claims they received.  According to X by 2’s Yunus Burhani, those days are gone.  Payers and providers are now sharing common goals such as improving clinical outcomes, improving financial outcomes, and improving overall patient care and experience.  Read here for more about how Payers are changing reimbursement methodologies, are being transparent about provider quality measures, and are engaging with providers in what they are trying to do from a quality perspective.

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    • The Promise of Payer Data Analytics
      Payers & Providers October 2015 Matt Flores

      Most health insurers will tell you that data analytics is the key to future growth. But here’s the problem: many payers’ data platforms aren’t up to the task. In fact, they’re falling behind providers’ platforms in a variety of ways. In this article Sr. Architect Matt Flores describes how Payers’ platforms need to be robust and scalable, but far too often fall short of that goal.  Read Flores’s tips for avoiding that pitfall.

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    • Insurance IT Transformations: Paying the Technical Debt Piper
      ITA September 2015 Sreedhar Alavalapati

      One of the key business questions in this new millennium is: How do companies maintain their competitive edge in an era of technology hyper drive?  That remains a difficult question to answer, but according to X by 2 Sr. Architect Sreedhar Alavalapati, the key lies in this notion of “technical debt.”  That debt – the accumulated software assets that have gone without re-factoring for many years or even decades - has many implications for insurers.  Alavalapati helps to sort it all out.

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    • Exploring the Benefits of Agile in Insurance
      Insurance Networking News July 2015 David Mitzel

      In part one of this article, X by 2 Architect Dave Mitzel looked at the challenges and opportunities involved in rewriting a ten-year old application.   In this next part, Mitzel focuses on technical talent, customer expectations, and the enhancements and maintenance involved in reworking a an older application, with a special focus on the benefits of an agile approach.

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    • System Modernization: Making the Most of a Second Look
      Insurance Networking News July 2015 David Mitzel

      It’s not often one gets a chance to revisit a past development effort, but it’s just that kind of unique opportunity that makes one’s development life just a little bit sweeter.  In this article Architect Dave Mitzel gets the chance to review a past software development effort as a way to derive lessons learned, and in the process create some new lessons as part of an update and upgrade effort.

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    • Some Assembly Required: The Pitfalls of Using an Assembly Line Method to Create Software
      Insurance Networking News April 2015 Yunus Burhani

      Taking a queue from the auto industry, IT leaders often think that once the business requirements are captured, the technical team can create almost any software easily and without complications. They believe that the architects working with the business analysts can come up with a good conceptual solution.  Once that conceptual solution is completed to everybody’s satisfaction the work can move to the next “assembly” station for designers to design.  In this blog X by 2 senior architect disassembles the notion that software can be developed effectively using an assembly line approach.

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    • When Boards Get Bored With Tech Talks
      Carrier Management January 2015 Frank Petersmark

      If boards aren’t comfortable with the quantity and quality of information they’re getting from their IT leadership, then they’re less likely to approve and embrace strategic IT investments, notes X by 2’s Frank Petersmark. In this article, Petersmark speaks from his personal experience as the CIO in an effort to help insurance IT leaders overcome the challenges of CIO-board communications.

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    • 2015 Outlook: Analytics in Health Insurance
      InformationWeek January 2015 Qasim Hussain

      Health insurers will make progress in technology adoption but continue to lag behind P&C carriers.  “In 2014, the major healthcare trend was that everybody started to talk about how important it is to do analytics after all the changes healthcare reform was bringing to the industry,” says Qasim Hussain, principal at X by 2 with a focus on analytics.

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    • Deflecting 'Inflection Points' in Favor of the Now
      InformationWeek December 2014 Frank Petersmark

      IT leaders don't need help with inflection points, as important as they are in the long run. They need help getting things done in the short run.  CIO Advocate Frank Petersmark on the importance of keeping your eye on the ball when it comes to the key initiatives for insurers.

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    • The Differences Between CIOs and CEOs
      CIO Insight September 2014 Frank Petersmark

      When the priorities of the CIO and CEO are not in synch it inevitably leads to misunderstandings about the value that IT is delivering to the organization.  In the abstract it would seem that CEOs and CIOs have many things in common—and they do in a lot of organizations. However, they also have some differences, and it’s in these differences that the trouble often begins. 

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    • Why Company Culture Matters to CIOs
      Carrier Management September 2014 Frank Petersmark

      For a newly hired CIO, taking the time to understand the company’s culture before pulling a lot of triggers will pay dividends over time and will contribute in no small way to accomplishing the core mission of IT—planning, executing, delivering and innovating, says X by 2′s Frank Petersmark.

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    • Technology Rising, but CIO Influence Falling?
      Insurance and Technology September 2014 Frank Petersmark

      Is CIO influence on the rise in this era of technology as the answer to everything, or is it declining because deep technical expertise just doesn't matter as much anymore?  It has always been a complicated environment for CIOs, and as X by 2’s Frank Petersmark suggests, it’s getting more complicated. 

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    • 4 Ways to Keep Insurance Data Quality Healthy
      Insurance Networking News July 2014 Yunus Burhani

      “Know your customers” is the new data mantra for the 21st century. Clean, high-quality customer data gives insurers powerful marketing and service advantages and prevents expensive headaches. A well-conceived data warehouse is a good place to start, but as core insurance systems develop problems over time, data quality issues grow undetected in the data warehouse.

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    • In IT, The Business Should Always Be the Winner
      InformationWeek July 2014 Frank Petersmark

      When it comes to award ceremonies, Hollywood has nothing on insurance IT. Each year there are any number of awards for insurance CIOs and other IT leaders involving innovation, technology, and program or project achievement.  However, it’s important that CIO accolades stay focused on those who ultimately benefit.

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    • The IT Talent Question: Build or Buy?
      Carrier Management June 2014 Frank Petersmark

      Insurance companies need to think about IT talent the same way they think about software platforms—not as point solutions to fill immediate needs—and to approach the task holistically to provide their organizations the functional richness, agility and responsiveness to changing market conditions and organizational needs over time, says X by 2’s Frank Petersmark.

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    • Do You Have the Right Stuff?
      CIO Insight June 2014 Frank Petersmark

      For CIOs, a new project or initiative can turn out well or end poorly, but becoming comfortable with the not-knowing aspect of it is the key to possessing the right stuff. CIOs have to find that elusive balance between risk and reward, including the ability to fail and rebound, because without it, it is a struggle to be a successful CIO. 

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    • Why the Mainframe is Like Godzilla
      InformationWeek May 2014 Frank Petersmark

      Both are viewed as representing a moment in time that has passed, and while respected for what they did, relevance has waned.  In today's technology landscape, the Cloud has emerged as a viable threat (and alternative) to the mainframe and as the next sure sign that the mainframe's days are numbered.

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    • Mind the Gap: The Surprising New IT Bottleneck
      InformationWeek April 2014 Frank Petersmark

      If you've ever been to London, you'll recognize the phrase "Mind the Gap" as the ubiquitous warning slogan embedded in the tile of most London underground stations. The phrase is a warning to watch one's step when stepping from the platform to the train door or vice versa.  IT is able to provide more services than ever. But can that overwhelm the business side?

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    • Today’s CIO Must Have Technology, Business and Leadership Skills
      Carrier Management March 2014 Frank Petersmark

      CIOs who find themselves looking in from the outside of strategic planning meetings probably have some career soul-searching to do, according to  X by 2’s Frank Petersmark. In the evolution of the CIO position, the current version—CIO Version 6.0—demands a hybrid of technology and business skills, he says.

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    • Pioneers vs. Settlers - Which Expedition Should I Join
      InformationWeek March 2014 Frank Petersmark

      While CIOs haven't signed up for the Wild West, there is more risk tolerance on the part of many organizations for the potential benefits that new and innovative approach or technology might bring.

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    • Who's Next? CIO Succession Planning
      Insurance Thought Leadership February 2014 Frank Petersmark

      That question is not a small matter, given the ubiquitous importance of technology in the insurance industry, so it’s all the more curious that most organizations and CIOs give short shrift to succession planning for this critical position. 

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    • Why Working in Insurance IT is Like Running Detroit
      InformationWeek February 2014 Frank Petersmark

      Many of the problems that have led to the city's financial demise were the result of short-sighted decision-making. In many ways this reminds me of what happens in some IT divisions within insurance companies.

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    • Three Keys to Effective Time Management for CIOs
      CIO Insight January 2014 Frank Petersmark

      What is it about CIOs and time? There never seems to be enough time for all the meetings, to make all the small and big decisions, to deal with the budget and people issues and, oh yes, keep everything tech-related running smoothly. Many CIOs accept this perpetual time deficit as something that comes with the territory, but to do so leads to diminished effectiveness for the CIO. Time is the gold standard for CIOs, and it is of the utmost importance that they manage it properly and making it work to their benefit.

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    • How Farm Bureau Insurance Brought Self-Service to a Legacy System Landscape
      InformationWeek January 2014 Samir Ahmed; Cheri Barnhart, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan

      By taking an enterprise approach, Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan was able to leverage its modernized data management program to deliver improved customer service to agents and policyholders.

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    • What's So Innovative about Innovation?
      InformationWeek January 2014 Frank Petersmark

      Over the past few years it seems you couldn't pick up a magazine, go to a conference, or even go to your own organization's board meeting without something being said about the need to be more innovative. Everyone's asking: Are we as innovative as our competitors? What are we doing about being innovative? How do we get some of that innovation stuff?

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    • Big Data In Action - Opportunities for Carrier (Part II)
      Insurance Networking News January 2014 Chander Ramamurthy

      While current big data technologies help perform regular data mining on a much bigger scale, that’s only the beginning. Technology companies have for years been trying to make computer systems work beyond fetching results.  They’re venturing into the fuzzy world of decision-making via artificial intelligence. With the advent of big data technology and tools, a branch of AI called machine learning has greatly advanced.

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    • Leadership or Disruption: Which Comes First?
      InformationWeek November 2013 Frank Petersmark

      When disruptive technology is the new normal, is the insurance industry ready to go there on its own terms?  For many other industries, however, business as usual means something quite different, and therein lies the problem. 

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    • Big Data In Action - Opportunities for Carrier (Part I)
      Insurance Networking News November 2013 Chander Ramamurthy

      “Big data” has two meanings. The first is straightforward: vast amounts of data — think petabytes and exabytes. The second refers to the new data tools and technologies used to efficiently process huge amounts of data.  Insurers are collecting more and more data from application logs, server logs, usage logs, social feeds corporate websites and social media. It’s a huge amount of information — thus the need for big data.

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    • Lessons from Boeing: Executing on the Biggest Insurance IT Projects
      InformationWeek October 2013 Frank Petersmark

      It's not that the designs of the systems aren't good. The hard part is execution and delivery, and that is often the place where many hit turbulence.  What lessons can be drawn between the experiences of Boeing and those insurers who find themselves struggling with large system implementations?

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    • Picking Your Successor
      CIO Insight October 2013 Frank Petersmark

      For CIOs who aspire to excellence, and who may seek another corner office in the company, succession planning is one of the responsibilities that come with the job.  It’s not a trivial issue given the importance of technology in nearly every industry today, which makes it’s all the more curious that most organizations and CIOs give short shrift to succession planning for this critical position.

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    • If I Only Had the Nerve: Helping Insurance CIOs Manage Expectations
      InformationWeek September 2013 Frank Petersmark

      Economic recovery and increases in insurance IT spending put a lot of pressure on CIOs to make up for lost time.  The problem is that while the appetite for technology has begun to change in the industry, the fundamentals required to successfully execute and implement enterprise scale IT initiatives has not, and in fact may have increased in magnitudes of difficulty over the past few years.

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    • Is Big Enterprise Architecture DOA?
      White Paper September 2013 Ram Sundaram and Oleg Sadykhov

      Is Big Enterprise Architecture DOA? These are strong words, and certainly not language we'd be using if insurers weren't struggling mightily with the practical implementation of enterprise architecture (EA). On page 10 of the post conference issue of IASA's theInterpreter, Ram Sundaram and Oleg Sadykhov, Principals at X by 2, discuss whether or not insurers can turn their EA initiatives from severe liabilities to crucial assets.

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    • For Insurance CIOs, One is the Loneliest Number
      InformationWeek July 2013 Frank Petersmark

      The life of a CIO at an insurance company can be a lonely one. Frank Petersmark, CIO Advocate at X by 2, knows-he's been there. In many companies the job is less understood than any other executive position and too few organizations work hard at the executive level to create the kind of environment necessary for their CIO to develop true peer relationships with their executive counterparts. But this shouldn't prevent IT leaders from reaching out to other members of the C-suite to expand support, deepen the understanding of what CIOs do, and promote that business and technology acumen should be key components of any executive position.

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    • Wanted: Executive Peers
      CIO Insight July 2013 Frank Petersmark

      Desperately Seeking: Executive peer who understands what I do, why I do it and how I do it. Must be a good listener with the ability to provide critical yet constructive feedback and perspectives. If this sounds like you, and you work at my company, please contact me at: needapeer@cio.losingmymind.nuts.

       

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    • Five Steps to Establishing a Data Management Program to Support Self-Service
      Insurance Networking News July 2013 Samir Ahmed

      Mid-market P&C carriers looking to offer customer self-service usually face four key challenges: Customer data is fragmented across multiple source systems; data formats across systems are inconsistent; data is lacking in quality; and systems are not available 24/7.

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    • Courageous Leadership Is the Great Differentiator
      CIO Insight June 2013 Frank Petersmark

      With budgets freeing up and enterprise-wide IT initiatives that sat on the shelf for years getting re-examined, CIOs are faced with an increasing pressure to make up for lost time. But instead of racing full-speed ahead and potentially falling into a career-damaging spiral of overpromising and underdelivering, Frank Petersmark, CIO Advocate at X by 2, encourages CIOs take a deep breath and focus on one critical element: courage. Courage to communicate what is and is not possible, how long the initiative will really take, how much it will really cost, and what is really required in terms of resources and commitment.

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    • 4 Common Data Challenges Faced During Modernization
      Insurance Networking News May 2013 Samir Ahmed

      In this first of three blog posts, Samir Ahmed, Sr. Architect at X by 2, describes the typical data challenges that insurers face when modernizing IT operations to deliver enhanced customer self-service capabilities.

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    • How to Prepare for Big Data Becoming Table Stakes
      Insurance Networking News April 2013 Syed Haider

      Syed Haider discusses how the healthcare space provides a good example to all insurers concerned with transforming the role of big data from a luxury to an absolute necessity.

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    • Top Business Technology Challenges for Insurers in 2013 Named by X by 2
      Marketwire - Press Release January 2013

      What will be the top IT challenges and trends for the property/casualty, health, and life insurers in 2013? X by 2, a consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry, offers these five.

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    • Piecing It All Together
      Best's Review December 2012 Oleg Sadykhov

      Large IT programs often involve teams of over 30 people and budgets of eight figures. Oleg Sadykhov, Principal at X by 2, discusses how a flexible architecture and a small team approach can breakdown these multi-year initiatives, address communication and inefficient use of resources, and lead to the successful delivery of complex enterprise initiatives.

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    • The Good, Bad and the Ugly at PCI 2012
      InformationWeek November 2012 Frank Petersmark

      The challenges facing commercial lines carriers are many and manifest, and that has put increasing pressure on their business technology capabilities and IT divisions. Carriers are looking at their CIOs for innovation and leadership in a very competitive marketplace, and more specifically for the enablement of processes, information, and people that will provide some positive competitive differentiation. The PCI conference was an opportunity for IT leaders to compare and collaborate on such things, including success stories and cautionary tales.

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    • First, Do The Opposite: 5 Contrarian Principles For Insurance Industry Transformation Initiatives
      White Paper October 2012 Ram Sundaram

      As you may recall, Einstein famously defined human “insanity” as taking identical actions while expecting different results. And yet time and again, we see the smartest, savviest insurance companies following the same defective IT transformation playbook, and then acting surprised to find themselves mired in an all-too-familiar, long-term corporate embarrassment.

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    • Four Commonsense Strategies for Data Testing
      Insurance Networking News September 2012 Syed Haider

      In part two, Syed Haider continues his comments on data testing in the insurance industry providing four commonsense approaches that data architects can take to mitigate the gap between software and data testing maturity.

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    • What Health Insurers Should Know to Get an NCQA Rating
      Insurance Networking News September 2012 Yunus Burhani

      Healthcare reform is driving significant transformation across the entire health spectrum. Included in the reforms was the establishment of health insurance exchanges in which health insurers will be bucketed and ranked based on health plan performance. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rates health insurers based on Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) measures. Yunus Burhani, Sr. Architect at X by 2, discusses what is needed to calculate ratings for HEDIS measures and provides some perspective for the challenges and best practices for getting an NCQA rating.

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    • Insurers Lag in Data Testing
      Insurance Networking News August 2012 Syed Haider

      In part one of two postings, Syed Haider discusses the challenges that insurers and data architects face when aggregating and integrating large volumes of data from a variety of systems/sources. The problems are not trivial, yet the greatest hurdle to overcome is data testing. While the application-testing landscape is fertile with a number of fresh ideas and offerings, the terrain of data testing remains surprisingly barren.

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    • Agile Architecture Reviews - The Ounce of Prevention For High-Stakes, High-Cost, Enterprise Application and Integration Initiatives
      White Paper August 2012 Ram Sundaram

      Gaining or defending competitive positioning drives some companies to embark on high-stakes enterprise application and integration initiatives. Many of which do not come to fruition as originally envisioned, or do so at great financial and human cost. 

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    • Cluster Heat Maps Could Help Insurers Make Sense of Big Data
      Insurance Networking News July 2012 Thiru Sampath

      With more than 90 percent of today’s data having been produced within the last two years, the insurance industry is experiencing a data explosion that makes traditional ad-hoc analysis obsolete for gaining business insights. This presents an ever-growing gap between the hardware that generates the data (for instance, a sensor that sends braking information from a vehicle) and the systems that successfully analyze the data in an effort to yield business insights. Thiru Sampath, Data Architect at X by 2, describes how cluster heat maps could help insurers bridge the gap.

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    • The Race To Deliver Next Gen Web Capabilities - Do You Have A Winning Strategy?
      White Paper July 2012 Ram Sundaram

      If your company is like most, you are constantly looking for ways to deliver increasing levels of service to your customers and distribution channel partners in order to keep pace with or get ahead of your competitors. 

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    • Centralized Architecture Groups: To Be Or Not To Be
      White Paper June 2012 Ram Sundaram

      While some IT executives are confidently forming enterprise architecture groups, others tell us they're disbanding such groups because they see no recognizable value or meaningful results. Both seek the processes and disciplines that reduce long-term costs and tilt IT budgets toward strategic spending rather than ongoing operations and maintenance. Yet, there appears to be an inherent paradox in the way the executives in these two camps go about accomplishing their mission. 

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    • How Smart Carriers Know, Serve, And Keep Their Best Customers
      White Paper May 2012 Ram Sundaram

      Independent insurance agents are many things. They act as distribution channels for a carrier's products and serve as the point of connection to policy-holders. They perform like a sales force, generating revenue and driving business growth. But above all else, independent agents are a carrier's best, and most frequent, customers. 

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    • Cyber House Rules: Five tips for CIOs to help tech transformation projects succeed
      Best's Review April 2012 Frank Petersmark

      Frank Petersmark, CIO Advocate at X by 2, a consulting firm specializing in enterprise and application architecture for insurers, lays out five contrarian principles for how insurers can put big IT transformation projects on the road to success by doing the opposite of what's been proven ineffective.

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    • CIO Version 6.0: You Are the Business
      CIO Update April 2012 Frank Petersmark

      Despite several generations of executive-level maturity, the CIO role still finds itself playing second fiddle when it comes to full integration with its business peers.  Many CIOs say there’s still a fundamental disconnect between them and their business-executive peers on several key strategic issues, including the need to efficiently manage expenses and the marketplace threat from competitors.

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    • Enhancing Customer Experience While Reducing Costs For A Leading Medicaid Provider
      White Paper April 2012 Ram Sundaram

      Since May 2005, the call center traffic at Michigan's second-largest Medicaid Plan has decreased significantly, even though membership numbers top 140,000 people in 19 counties across the state. The slowdown in calls is intentional, caused by launching a suite of innovative web capabilities that give medical providers direct access to up-to-date patient eligibility and claim status information, online and around the clock. 

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    • The Role of Enterprise Architecture is No Fable
      PropertyCasualty360 March 2012 Frank Petersmark

      In today’s hypercompetitive marketplaces, CEOs, CFOs and CIOs have to be convinced that their business technology investments and environments will produce real business advantages for them, over the short and long term. These leaders increasingly recognize the value in employing a well-conceived and constructed enterprise architecture as a necessary prerequisite for the success of any major investment or project. In the same way that no builder worth his salt would erect a building without an architectural blueprint, no CIO should put their organization or themselves at risk without an architectural technology blueprint to serve as a guiding light.

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    • X by 2's Top IT Challenges for Insurers in 2012
      InformationWeek January 2012 Qasim Hussain, Yasir Hussain, Frank Petersmark

      What will be the top IT challenges and trends for the P&C, Health, and Life insurance industries in 2012? Partners from X by 2 identify nine challenges that will have the widest impact on insurers' core business and technology initiatives during the coming year.

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    • Building a Foundation: Four ways to make an IT transformation project a success
      Best's Review December 2011 Ram Sundaram

      When IT transformation projects implode, the costs in time, money and morale can be devastating. Think it couldn’t happen to you? Ram Sundaram, a senior principal at X by 2, suggests that you think again.

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    • Choose Wisely: How insurance carriers should approach, leverage and build upon analyst tech evaluations
      Best's Review November 2011 Ram Sundaram

      If there’s one concept insurers understand, it’s risk. Core IT transformations, like all business decisions, are essentially risk/reward calculations. If a new and better system can be fielded in a reasonable time frame, at a minimal cost and with a high probability of success, it’s typically worth the investment.In short, the old model of building IT systems from the ground up is quickly turning unsustainable.

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    • Breaking the Herd Mentality: "Insurance" for mega-transformation technology initiatives
      AAIS Viewpoint June 2011 Frank Petersmark

      There is an unpleasant truth that almost any CIO or senior insurance executive is loath to admit: At some point in the past he or she has been involved in a large and costly technology initiative that failed spectacularly. It’s especially difficult when the initiative is at the root of the company’s operations, what we call a “mega-transformation” initiative.

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    • Long-term CIO Strategy: CIOs Must Be More Like the Ant Than the Grasshopper
      CIO - Blogs and Discussion March 2011 Frank Petersmark

      In Aesop’s fable, “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” the frugal ant laid up food for winter and survived when it got cold. The grasshopper didn’t and died when the food ran out. Today’s CIOs must be more like the ant, but they need a bit of the grasshopper in them too. They must balance the need their organizations have for immediate and impactful value from IT, while at the same time building the business technology foundation that will insure long-term business value and capabilities.

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    • Changing the Channel
      Best's Review February 2011 Frank Petersmark

      Frank Petersmark, CIO Advocate at X by 2, discusses agent and carrier's need to embrace the new technology of selling and distributing insurance products through mulitple distribution channels.

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