Being an insurance CIO is one of the toughest leadership roles in today’s world. From reducing risk, to ensuring compliance, to budgeting, CIOs have always had many responsibilities. However, the challenges of the industry are changing, and so are the CIOs.
New Perspectives and Strategies
The next generation of insurance CIOs are from more diverse and ethnic backgrounds, and many are funneling in from the banking and financial sectors. Unlike their predecessors, they haven’t spent decades in the insurance industry, allowing them to view the industry more objectively, which can help accelerate transformation. They are visible change agents, not order takers. They want to lead, and as tech becomes more pervasive in the industry, they can take the reins.
Don’t expect their leadership to stop at the IT department. According to CIO.com’s 2023 State of the CIO Survey, 85% of CIOs say they are “becoming a changemaker, increasingly leading business and technology initiatives.” Next generation CIOs are visionary leaders who directly report to the CEO and have direct influence on the business strategy itself. They use a tech-led business strategy, using technology to advance business goals and thinking more about the capabilities that will be provided rather than the technology itself.
The next generation insurance CIO supports the core initiatives of insurance, such as creating, underwriting, modeling and pricing an insurance product, but also embraces new functions, like enabling new business strategies, new markets to venture, new products to launch and new operating model constructs — working at the center of both business and IT objectives.
New technology presents CIOs with new responsibilities, and AI is the newest technology insurance is acquiring. CIOs will have to develop an AI strategy, build models, implement at scale and provide change management training. With these adaptations to the work environment, it will become the CIOs’ responsibility to start questioning technology ethics, sustainability, bias and trainability rather than the usual compliance, scalability, affordability and security pillars.
The insurance industry is currently working through a talent crisis due to an aging workforce and difficulty recruiting new hires. How will the next generation CIOs address this crisis? They’ll focus on company goals and finding the right person rather than quickly filling the role or training an existing employee who doesn’t align with a future-ready strategy. The qualities CIOs are looking for in candidates include “project management, change management and strategic planning” according to the State of the CIO Survey. Rather than trying to complete organizational objectives solely within the organization, the next generation is partner-oriented, looking for the best product and consulting partners to help them succeed.
A CIO’s job influences much more than the IT department, and the next generation of insurance CIOs are embodying this. As the insurance industry becomes more innovative and loses its laggard reputation, the next generation CIO is the perfect leader to accelerate change and anticipate the future.