Celent’s first UK CIO Roundtable: The future of technology in the workplace and engaging suppliers in innovation

May 7th, 2013 | Posted by
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Celent recently held its first UK CIO Agenda Roundtable.   The aim of this event was to bring together senior IT executives from across the UK insurance industry to debate shared topics of interest.  The event was hosted by a CIO’s at their premises, and the prize for hosting was that the CIO got to choose the topics for discussion – and what great topics were chosen:

  • The future of technology in the workplace
  • Engaging suppliers in innovation

The debate was lively with open and frank contribution from all parties.   Unfortunately, as the event was run on a ‘Chatham House Rules’ convention, I am not able to share the details of the debate. (For those of you unfamiliar with British History, Chatham House was one of the UK’s main establishments for military code breaking where all discussions where not shared outside of the house).  So, instead, here’s a quick summary of the main themes:

Topic #1: The future of technology in the workplace

  • Enabling new user driven technologies in the workplace is still largely a reactive exercise.  
  • However, the extent of tablet computing, BYOD, use of social networking for defined business use, and innovative uses of collaborative technologies is growing (such as tablet based video conferencing, web chat, IM, corporate networking, etc)  - extending beyond the executive suite to front-line staff.
  • As the CIO is ultimately responsible for all data and use of IT assets within the firm, security remains a critical concern.  
  • The main challenges faced by CIOs are: (1) Educating the business around the risks, (2) Working with suppliers to enable the changes required to open up new workplace technologies (owing to being tied into long-term agreements), and (3) Securing the investment.

Topic #2: Engaging suppliers in innovation

  • Overall, insurers recognize that their suppliers are a critical partner in helping them to innovate and welcome their contributions.
  • Some insurers have made use of their supplier’s capabilities for innovation (including facilities such as Innovation Labs and bespoke programmes).  Although these facilities were appreciated by insurers, few had found them to be hugely successful in supporting the innovation agenda with the business.
  • The main challenge highlighted by CIOs with long-term multi-year outsourcing partners was perceived to be contractual.  Innovation objectives are often negotiated at the procurement stage of a long-term outsourcing contract and focused more on delivering long-term supplier productivity rather than short-term market-facing business goals, which can change from year-to-year and flex with changes in technology requiring an agile response.    
  • Furthermore, in global contracts, it was felt that local supplier teams are not always incentivised to innovate with their local client firms.  It was felt that behaviours follow their local incentive plans targeted towards delivery and cost, as opposed to innovation.
  • Where insurers have experienced success, it was observed that this was with either smaller suppliers on pilot programmes (where agility, rapid results, close business co-operation and shorter contracts are often exercised), and when local supplier teams have been ring-fenced and embedded into the client teams.

Both of these topics provide a rich seam for future Celent research.  It was clear that these topics feature high on the agenda of many CIOs, where the need to be seen to lead the business around the technology agenda is great.   So, watch this space.

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