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Can technology still deliver for Life & Pensions?

Can technology still deliver for Life & Pensions?

It would be hardly surprising if most Life and Pension executives heave a heavy sigh when faced with a new proposal for a technology project. Far too many times they have been lead down the yellow brick road of ‘new technology’ only to find that the Emerald City is tarnished when they get there. So why should they believe the over-the-top blandishments in proposals promising more radical transformations than a Mediterranean Finance Minister seeking to keep the bond market at bay.

Experience will tell them that big IT projects tend to come in very late, massively over-budget and do not deliver the benefits that have been promised. The result is that careers can be stranded as executives carry the mill-stone of expensive failure around with them.

This view is certainly logical but it does paint too pessimistic a picture of what technology can still deliver to the Life and Pensions organisation. There is substantial turmoil in the business environment today and this will impact Life and Pensions just as heavily as any other sector. Increased regulation due to the fallout from the banking crisis, a shrinking market as consumers have less disposable income during a recession, and increased competition as all the previous players are joined by new, nimble, niche entrants mean that companies have to raise their game just to stay on the pitch.

Technology-use will be a major component of any game-lifting strategy of organisations in all sectors. The question is how best to utilise its capability without becoming enthralled to its exotic promise.

The key to exploiting technology rather than becoming enslaved to it is to focus clearly on the benefits required and less on the hype surrounding IT in general. The media noise that accompanies new technology usage such as media-sites, mobile delivery, etc. can sometimes drown out the more practicable enhancements that can deliver more to a company’s bottom line at far less risk.

So ignore the giant transformations promised by proposals which state that the marketplace is about to be revolutionised by new approaches using Facebook and Twitter. Concentrate on enhancing productivity, sales, and service, which remains the key to leveraging advancing technology to deliver increased market share and profit.

This means looking at your business and identifying those areas that require responsiveness, flexibility and precision. These areas are ideally suited to projects which will use technological advances to allow rapid response to competitor advances and regulation changes. This will extend the capacity of both sales and service departments to deliver.

Keeping focused in their use of technology will allow executives of Life and Pension companies to enhance their company’s performance without risking their company’s market share. So examine proposals to see are they betting the farm on an unproven market-change or are they looking to enable the company to do more with less; less people, less expense, less delay.

These are the projects which will provide executives with the quick ROI that they need to make their company succeed.

Tom Murray

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