It is inherent within human nature to shun the onset of change in favour of routine and familiarity, after all, we are creatures of habit.

So, when someone or something attempts to impose a different way of doing things you can hardly blame people for digging in their heels and resisting change.

Only 10 months ago, the Lloyd's market was repeatedly accused of dragging its heels in pursuit of business process reform.

One industry observer was not alone when he said technology was not the problem, as it was there ready and waiting, but rather the market mindset and shifting away from a 318-year-old culture.

When Kinnect spectacularly fell in January, clouds loomed large over Lime Street and the prospect of an electronic upgrade looked distinctly unlikely.

But, as we approach 2007, the industry is sensing a real and palpable attitude change and when chief executive Richard Ward insisted recently that "the market has proven that it can change and evolve and I know it will continue to do so", it wasn't a statement of naïve optimism.

Stephen Riley, chairman of the International Under-writing Association, admits that despite slow progress in streamlining the market's business processes, the past 12 months has provided some "genuine" success stories.

He says: "Back in 1999 London's business processes were described as archaic, baffling and cumbersome.

"We expected some fast, early successes by 'picking the low-hanging fruit'. Well, of course, the low-hanging fruit turned out to be a little bit higher than we thought, but although the situation is still far from perfect, it has undoubtedly improved."

With a firm eye now placed on delivering real and efficient placement, claims, and accounting and settlement practices, 2006 has been transformed from a year that began in a technology graveyard to one of promise.

The question now is how changes introduced in 2006 will work in 2007.

Bob Thompson, head of agency services with the Lloyd's Market Association, sees 2007 as a year of consolidation with fewer initiatives being introduced.

He says: "Business process reform has been going on for a couple of years. There's only so much managing agents can do while trying to run a business at the same time."

While the case for a well earned breather is hard to argue with after a year of unprecedented change, there is still some insistence that it shouldn't be an excuse for the market to rest on its laurels.

"There is no question, we don't want to lose any momentum," insists Alex Letts, chief executive of Ri3K. "Although the market has its hands full dealing with four key areas [accounting and settlement, electronic claims files, electronic placement and data messaging through peer-to-peer] it hasn't really nailed any of them, and 2007 will be about seeing each of these key prongs to the finishing line."

Letts believes 2006 has been "a watershed year for the industry" and while it has witnessed "extraordinary change", the biggest challenge is still convincing the entire market. IT