Manage What You Measure


Now that we are well into the first quarter, most insurance carriers are taking stock of finalized budgets and plans, and moving into a more focused execution mode. The planning process for 2023 was much longer than normal for many carriers as they grappled with a dynamic environment that produced potentially significant implications—frequently, diametrically opposed implications. We are headed into a recession, unless we aren’t. Increased interest rates are a great thing for carriers, unless they aren’t. Labor markets are tight, making it challenging to find the right kind of talent, although maybe that’s not completely true either. One thing not in question: It will be an interesting year. 

Everywhere in business, there’s a focus on key performance indicators, or KPIs, the building blocks for both operational metrics and reward/recognition programs. One of my many mentors along the way noted that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” That’s an MBA truism if there ever was one!  But it creates some truly interesting challenges that IT leaders must grapple with, particularly if the implications of what is being measured aren’t well understood.

For one thing, horizontal functions (shared services) may think about the enterprise as the operating entity to be optimized, but for business leaders, it may be their own strategic business unit. Frequently, there are no “points” for sharing or collaboration. In many instances, the resulting politics can make the competition between units more urgent than the competition with other logos. Business units are vying for resources, for attention, for prioritization. Nothing in that suggests collaboration over shared resources or hard-edged joint prioritization. Therefore, how things are measured produces practical and political implications that CIOs and their teams must navigate. This can turn CIOs into politicians as much as technologists as they look to maximize benefits across diverse and dynamic priorities.

Understanding this dynamic may be the first step toward flourishing in this environment. Also key to this is for senior IT leaders to be conversant in the language of their business partners. Even when technical jargon is accurate, a deep dive can cause eyes to glaze over, and after that, it is difficult to reengage.

To help with this, the Aite-Novarica Group’s Insurance practice recently released a “Top 10 Trends” report series. The webinar for life, annuities, and benefits carriers will be on Tuesday, February 21, at 11 am Eastern. Registration is now open.