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CIO: Insurance and technology make an innovative pair

At Capitol Insurance Companies in Middleton, Wis., the organization's technology head is pairing up insurance and technology to better serve business strategy and improve operations -- and the lessons he's learned transcend industries.

In this video, filmed at the Fusion 2012 CEO-CIO Symposium in Madison, Wis., Site Editor Wendy Schuchart sits down with Troy Lethem, the company's vice president of information services, to discuss how he's improved business through IT innovation.

When Lethem arrived at Capitol Insurance Companies, dated facilities, stodgy business applications and a past-its-prime data center were all conspiring to prevent the company from moving forward in its growth. Under Lethem's leadership, the company has embraced IT innovations that have improved its billing system, data center and overall efficiency.

When linking insurance and technology -- or really any industry and the technology that enables it -- Lethem advises CIOs not to "lose sight of the business" or "lose the purpose of what you're doing."

Read a partial transcript from this interview below, and watch the video to learn more about Lethem's technology implementation.

Wendy Schuchart: As part of your tenure at Capitol Insurance Companies, you replaced your core business applications and infrastructure. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Troy Lethem: When I arrived, Capitol had recently been acquired by the Alleghany Corp. in New York. This was a very small, regional player in the property and casualty and surety world. We're really in about five to six states in the upper Midwest. Alleghany saw this as a very strong platform to go nationwide with a property and casualty company.

The previous owners had severely underinvested in technology, so a lot of what we had was not meeting needs and certainly wouldn't take us into the future. Management, at the time, knew that it was basically "replace everything." Now, for a small company with limited means and not very mature staffing, that's a tall order, so we knew it was going to take some time. But over the last seven-and-a-half years, we've essentially replaced everything.

So, when I arrived, management realized that we needed to replace virtually every bit of what we had. We were in very old facilities. Our data center had no capacity to improve our operations. All of our business applications were not only not meeting current needs, but could not take us forward to where we wanted to go. So, management and I sat down and talked about what order these things needed to be done in. Because we're small, we knew it would take some time. We started off with our fidelity and surety system, [which] had some very severe obsolescence issues. We replaced that first, along with our billing system.

Very early on, we moved out of our old facilities into a new, Class A space, and built a data center that would take care of our needs for the next 10 years. I firmly believe it'll be the last data center we build. [And] I think the way things have gone in the last seven years, that's panning out.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor. For midmarket IT news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ciomidmarket.

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