IT Strategy Needs Frequent Updates

Sankaranarayanan Raghavan, CIO, AEGON Religare Life Insurance | Wednesday, 14 May 2014, 06:50 IST

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AEGON Religare Life Insurance is a joint venture between AEGON, Religare and Bennett, Coleman & company. The company offers a range of insurance products for financial planning and life insurance in India.
With the new age technology and the millennials’ entry into the work environment, the CIOs and IT Heads face a unique set of challenges that are both similar and dissimilar to that of many C-level executives. In addition to running the business of IT, CIOs must also drive the direction and implementation of technology within the organization. They must simultaneously meet the current, basic IT needs of the business, plan for future growth and adjust to changes in technology. The challenges being faced by the CIOs and heads of IT today are two fold - Internal and External. True to the saying that a challenge in itself is an opportunity for innovation, we can rather put it as internal opportunities and external opportunities.
Internal Opportunities
Strategy or input that is up-to-date: The IT strategy needs more frequent updates than what it used to be previously. The businesses today are not looking at IT as a support function rather they are looking at it as a creator of new avenues for the expansion and/or growth. Earlier, IT used to provide input on meeting the Service Level Agreement (SLAs) or metrics that was committed. Now, nobody is very keen about the metrics, but they are keen on the innovation that IT has come up with. Here the challenge is that there is no clear metric and it works on the subjective basis. So, we need to be on our toes not only while ensuring that the business acknowledges the input, but also when we use it on a sustained basis. 
IT Consumerization and Millenials: Social media has today become a part of the IT strategy. Gone are the days when access to some of the social media sites was restricted. More than the challenge around the data security, the question of reputation is a serious point for consideration. More and more smart phones are into the work environment and with the sharing of data or content which is common; the reputational damage that it can bring about is a major operational risk which each organization needs to live with.
Big data and Analytics: The hype around Big Data is another challenge or opportunity. How the Big Data will help in bettering the businesses, what needs to be mined and what needs to be ignored is still a problem for many industries and they are still grappling with the same. Good investment is needed to see some result, but the traditional return on investment may not be possible. Depending on the knowledge and the need, some dip is needed which may result in a poor ROI or investment. Some industries are benefiting from the analytics and big data, but for majority of them, these all are white elephants.
External Opportunities
Changes in the regulatory space: The good part is that the regulatory changes are not only better, but are also helping in doing innovations with the technology.
Cyber security: With the new technologies, new issues around cyber security are also getting created. The investment on the cyber security is not only heavy, but is also not a foolproof mechanism. Not only the standards and solutions are changing, they are also leading to redundant investments and bringing in slowness in any implementation.
Future Technology Trends
Compared to other technology trends, mobile applications (apps) are going to be most sought after. Today, there are more number of mobile apps, but as the revenue or spends on these apps grow; there will be disintegration and integration of various apps. The paid apps will slowly disappear and referred apps or free apps based on referrals will increase.
Virtual offices: This is already in practice at some places. This will be everywhere, with the internet cost getting lower and lower; office rentals becoming higher and higher. People may be allowed not only to use their devices, but also work from wherever they are. Collaboration will become more of a reality than a buzz word.
eService Center: eService center or eExperience center may replace the traditional branches (Bank branch or home office of Insurance or Shops) based on self-experience and closure.
All in all, the future technology is going to spread more on mobile and video, driving not only innovations around the business model, but also towards providing solutions to the customers.

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