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CIO: Innovation driven by IT simplification processes

At Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. in Milwaukee, the CIO is placing a premium on IT simplification processes as he strives for better business performance, flexibility, productivity and innovation.

In this video, filmed at the Fusion 2012 CEO-CIO Symposium in Madison, Wis., Site Editor Wendy Schuchart sits down with Tim Schaefer, CIO at Northwestern Mutual, to discuss his IT simplification processes and the projects they enable.

By simplifying its technology environment, Northwestern Mutual creates value in three ways: generating financial capacity, managing risk better and increasing use cases for newer technologies. These innovations, Schaefer explains, are powered by the convergence of cloud, mobile, analytics and social technologies.

Read a partial transcript from this interview below, and watch the video to learn more about how IT simplification processes can propel innovation in the enterprise.

Wendy Schuchart: What specific technology-related project or projects are resulting in better business performance, productivity and flexibility for you at Northwestern Mutual?

Tim Schaefer:
One specific project that's enabling better business flexibility and productivity at Northwestern Mutual comes out of our focus on using IT simplification processes to drive innovation. Specifically, we are focused on how to simplify our technology environment in order to create financial capacity to help support growth in the company.

What result have you achieved through these IT simplification processes?

There are actually three types of value that we are generating out of the simplification effort that we have under way. First and foremost, we want to generate financial capacity -- so we want to create dollars that can be invested in growth opportunities around the organization. Second is the value we get around risk reduction and in particular, how we can increase the agility of the company. Finally, by simplifying our technology environment, we are actually opening up room and capacity for newer technologies.

What one technology is driving the most innovation at your company?

It'd be hard to say that we have one technology, but there is one technology concept that is driving innovation at Northwestern Mutual. It's really the convergence of four different technologies -- cloud, mobile, analytics and social. How those four technologies are coming together is really driving innovation and motivation in how we want to interact and engage with our policy holders, how we want to interact with our field course and our employees. Simplification is serving a role in this innovation by creating a space to add all of this converged technology to the organization.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor.

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