IT Leaders Give Their Thanks

Thanksgiving wishes from within insurance IT

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, wanted to know what insurance IT leaders were most thankful for, so we asked a variety of the industry's top people one simple question: What should insurance IT leaders be most thankful for?  

Included in the group of respondents are insurance carrier CIOs, technology consultants and analysts, and software solution providers. We hope their words give you a sense of appreciation for the difficult job people in this industry face and the hopefulness that comes with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are their responses.

Ernie Pearson, IT director – applications development, SECURA Insurance


Today’s insurance IT leaders can be thankful for recognition of their role in the organization, their opportunities to contribute, and the tools they have to succeed.

In almost all cases, insurance IT leaders have earned the privilege (and responsibility) of a seat on the executive team. Their role is respected not only for technical leadership but business acumen and strategic thinking.

The opportunity for these leaders to contribute to the strategic goals of their organizations has never been greater. The effective development and deployment of technology-based solutions is inextricably linked to almost every important corporate initiative

At the same time, insurance IT leaders have almost limitless options and alternatives in the tools needed to support corporate initiatives. These options include agile development methodologies, a plethora of mobile devices, web service based integration options, and increasingly configurable software solutions.

Not that it’s without it challenges, but, it’s a good time to be an IT leader in our industry.

Frank Petersmark, CIO advocate at X by 2


In this season of thanks, IT insurance leaders should be thankful that, at long last, they find themselves in a position to really make a difference in their organizations as leaders and innovators, and have the tools and solutions sets to make it happen.  

Likewise, insurance organizations should be thankful that they have IT leaders who, at long last, posses the business and technology acumen to guide their organizations to the promised land of competitive differentiation and market leadership.  

So be careful with what you've asked for IT leaders, as the table has been set for you and your job is now to execute and deliver—and in this season of thanks, that's a lot to be thankful for.


Piyush Singh, senior vice president and CIO, Great American Insurance Co.

I am thankful for the environment and opportunity to make a difference for the business. This is the luckiest period in my career because I get to work daily with an absolutely wonderful group of colleagues who care about the company’s positioning today and in the future.

I am thankful for the innovators who drive us to achieve more by being on the edge and creating products that change the “game” and for the specialists and staff augmentation firms that provide us with hot and just-in-time skills.

I am thankful for the trade associations that provide a platform for knowledge sharing, information dissemination, and networking. I’m also thankful for the environment established by the Lindner family, the founding family here at Great American Insurance, that values making a difference in the society that has given us so much.

Lastly, but very importantly, I’m thankful for the unsung families that support all of us as we no longer have clear-cut work and personal-life boundaries.

Craig Lowenthal, business development manager, ISCS


One of the things I believe insurance IT leaders should be thankful for is a realization by the industry at-large that technology modernization can provide a competitive edge.  Whereas only a short time ago IT was talked about as little more than a cost center, today technology has a seat at the executive table and a voice in how to achieve strategic objectives. For that, I am very thankful indeed!

On the other hand, the proliferation of smart mobile devices has become an IT leader’s nightmare.  I’d be really thankful for some solid, integrated and foolproof solutions to effectively manage the exposure this revolution presents.

Deb Smallwood, founder, SMA


It’s a perfect time of year for counting our blessings and right at the top of that list sits the insurance technology community—the people that are working to make our industry more competitive and more responsive to customer needs.

We are fortunate to work in an industry where people operate with a willingness to network, share, and exchange ideas. It helps the entire industry better understand how technology can advance the business.

This spirit is helping insurers meet their unique goals and, at the same time, it is helping propel the industry forward. The insurance technology community is exemplary and the people just make it the best. 

Rod Travers, executive vice president, Robert E. Nolan Co.


These past few years have been an uphill marathon for the insurance industry and IT has certainly felt its share of the pain.  Perhaps paradoxically, IT leaders can be thankful for some of the positives brought on by the downturn:

  • Fewer pet projects instigated by well-intentioned business stakeholders who become enamored with newfangled technology.  With budget dollars very scarce, decision-making has become much simpler: the business benefits, ROI, and risk-mitigation aspects must be crystal clear, or the project doesn’t happen.
  • Solution providers are, these days, much more accommodating in terms of pricing, license terms, and overall “deal flexibility.” Lean times heat up the competition, and IT is the beneficiary.

Now let’s hope this marathon reaches level ground!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Joe Pomilia, executive director, IASA

No matter which industry you work in, technology is hot.  IT leaders can be thankful because they are at the center of the most crucial business initiatives. 

Gone are the days where questions about why certain technologies are needed and what value technology can do for the enterprise.  Those days have been replaced by days when a new generation of consumers and business partners look to technology to facilitate faster business processing, better communication, work from home options, and 24 x 7 x 365 accessibility.

Insurance IT leaders today are the mavens behind key differentiators, such as skyrocketing customer retention rates, lower operational costs and improved bottom line results.

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