Not long ago, the operative words used when writing an article on upcoming IT budgets were "cautiously optimistic." Everyone was hopeful—but not completely sold—that the executive team and the board of directors would see the value of investing in technology. Fortunately, the insurance IT field has moved beyond that to this year's featured words in budget stories: "increasing slightly."

Slight increases don't seem worthy of getting excited about, but when you study the overall picture of the insurance industry today compared to where it was five years ago, slight increase sounds pretty good.

IT shops survived the worst economy of the last 75 years with their heads held high. IT wasn't immune from cutbacks that followed the financial collapse of 2008, but technology had finally  earned a strategic value in the industry that carriers were doing whatever possible to keep IT moving forward to avoid the cutbacks that put business units behind braver competitors once the economy began to improve.

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