A RIGOROUS APPROACH
IT’S NOT EASY DETERMINING THE BEST OF THE BEST. AFTER ALL, IT’S A MATTER OF OPINION, RIGHT?
OPINION CERTAINLY ENTERED INTO THE PROCESS IN ASCERTAINING THE 2010 VANGUARDS IN INSURANCE
PRACTICES AWARDS. HOWEVER, TO OFFER THE INDUSTRY THE MOST VALUABLE, OBJECTIVE LOOK AT
THE OVERALL TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS MARKET, INSURERS, INN EDITORS, AND INSURANCE INDUSTRY
EXPERTS WERE CALLED UPON TO CONTRIBUTE TO A GLUT OF INTELLIGENCE.
HERE’S A LOOK AT HOW THAT INTELLIGENCE WAS COLLECTED.
By Pat Speer and Craig Weber
For Phase I of our program, a true evaluation of technology
vendors is best left with those with the most insight, i.e., those
using the technology—insurers themselves. So we based the
Vanguards in Insurance Program on data gleaned purely from
the results of a survey of insurance carriers, brokers, agents
As with prior years’ surveys, our search was conducted
using an online survey tool. Links to an online nomination form
were publicized on the Insurance Networking News Web site,
and made available to Insurance Networking News’ readers in
several email blasts.
We asked insurance professionals to choose their preferred
provider, and offered the survey respondent a clear choice—
either from a number of popular provider names or by using
a free-form field so they could name their own, in four basic
yet critical areas—vertical and horizontal solutions, platform
technologies and IT services. To allow us to look at additional
findings beyond the raw vote tallies, respondents were also
queried on demographics, giving us insight as to their role and
their company. We also added an important question to the VIP
survey that would provide the “why” behind the ranking: “What
influenced your choice of preferred vendor.”
Between October and December, 2010, a total of 2,092
votes were cast in this ranking by 551 unique respondents.
Representing twice the number of votes/respondents from last
year, this data is impressive, especially considering that the
votes by respondents who appeared to be duplicates, or who
could be identified as non-carrier staff, were omitted from the
These responses were reviewed, normalized and cleansed
by Celent staff. For example, vendor company names were
standardized to make it possible to generate accurate vote
counts. Non-specific responses such as “couldn’t really say”
were categorized as “n/a.” In addition, all responses that
suggested an alternative approach to purchasing and installing
technology, such as “custom solutions” and “internal builds,”
were recoded under a single category.
Some respondents named multiple favorite vendors in a single
category, despite instructions to the contrary. To be fair to all the
vendors named, these additional vendor votes were counted.
Some respondents also named a favorite in one category,
while leaving others blank. This makes sense because the
respondents’ positions and their areas of experience varied.
VIP PHASE II
Thanks to the tremendous popularity of Phase II of the 2009
INN Vanguards in Insurance Practices Program—the INN
VIP Best Practice Award that recognizes best practices with
the use of standards—we took the same approach in 2010.
We broadened the nomination process to include all vendors
that had earned a spot on our VIP Phase I ranking. The results
this year over last were once again quite impressive, as INN
received a three-fold increase in best practice nominations.
And as with last year, many who submitted best practice case
studies chose to focus on ACORD XML standards, proving that
the insurance industry is in step to conforming to a unified,
cohesive technical world.
The impressive number of Phase II nominees called for a
number of experts to help us analyze their merits based on
agreed-upon metrics. First, we applied the unique experiences
and perspectives of Insurance Networking News editors as
well as expert input from seasoned Celent analysts, including
senior analyst, Jeff Goldberg. And because qualifying the “best
of the best” clearly required a subjective review with distinctive
metrics, INN further enlisted the help of its prestigious,
seasoned editorial advisory board members, who used the
same agreed-upon metrics. The INN advisory board members
who participated in the VIP Best Practice Award review include
Eric Bulis (SVP and CIO, SBLI USA Mutual Life), Ursuline Foley
(SVP and CIO, XLRe at XL Capital), Dennis Mehmen (CIO, VP,
Business Information Services, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance
Co.), Mike Murray (VP, Finance, OneBeacon Insurance Co.),
Michael Romano (SVP, Corporate Compliance, Highmark
Inc.), Anthony Sisti (Information Systems Director, Travelers
Insurance) and Jan Tomlinson (past EVP and International
Field Operations Manager, The Chubb Corp.).
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Celent and
INN’s advisory board members for their valuable expertise,
time and dedicated support of our efforts. And we congratulate
the 2010 VIP winners in each category (see analysis), who are
clearly helping move technology, associated standards and the
industry at large in a positive direction.
Yes, this rigorous approach involved opinion—yours, your
peers, and seasoned industry experts, which combined should
provide you with a trusted and reliable source for technology
solution provider information, and a great advantage as you
formulate your technology spend plan for 2010 and beyond. n