This week we asked: ‘Are insurer boards more open to investment in technology now than in the past?

‘No, unless the business case is solid’

Capita Consulting head of financial services Tony Tarquini

“Insurer boards are more aggressively looking at the costs for all spend. If somebody brings a business case for IT, it will probably get a lot of scrutiny focused on the payback. How long is my expenditure going to be in a minus position before I get my money back? Boards are tending to ask their internal people and their vendors for a lot more information. If the payback horizon is two years, the board might have a different view than if it’s a year. There’s more rigour, and more of an aggressive stance in terms of: ‘If we’re going to spend this money, we want to know exactly what’s going to happen, no ifs, buts or maybes.’”

‘Not entirely’

Allianz director IT and offshore operations John Knowles

“Brokers and insurers will need to remain aware of technological developments and engage with the ever-changing requirements of the market, in order to maintain a competitive advantage. However, our main focus is not specifically on investing in new technology but rather to invest in our business where, of course, technology has a part to play. Current financial conditions just mean that our choices have to be made with greater care than ever.”

‘Yes, but only certain technologies’

Aviva UK general insurance chief information officer Malcolm Simpkin

“There is an ongoing pressure to ensure that sufficient spending on the business-as-usual activities is in place. However, the emergence and pervasive nature of social media, cloud computing and mobile technologies are all causing serious consideration to be given to what we need to spend – and where – in order to be the winners in the future market. An appropriate level of investment needs to be maintained on the everyday services. However, not investing in the future shift in technologies and customer behaviours can be a serious risk, and we appear to be at a point where a step change is needed.”

‘Yes’

Aspen group head of IT Lisa Gibbard

“Absolutely, I think they are. The key for me is that it’s very easy to cut IT spend, but past history has shown that, when you cut IT spend, it meets conditions at the time, but as market conditions change there is a lot of work to do to overcome any lack of investment in technology in the downturn market, which sometimes can hinder business opportunities. I definitely believe that boards are seeing that technology is pivotal to the running of the business and that it needs appropriate investment.”