Attacking the Legacy Environment

Attacking the Legacy Environment

David J. Castellani, CIO, New York Life Insurance Company
David J. Castellani, CIO, New York Life Insurance Company

David J. Castellani, CIO, New York Life Insurance Company

Commitment to transform and grow

The greatest challenge is to simplify to innovate. Organizations must commit to reducing their legacy environments, IT assets and structures to free up capital to transform and grow. From a business perspective we operate in a very interesting time, as we are on the cusp of massive and game changing innovation cycle. This extends beyond the cloud, SaaS, and Big Data and is really about agility, flexibility, rapid deployment, and a significant reduction in the cost. Technology should be deflationary for businesses creating optionality. But this can only occur if you have a plan to attack the legacy environment.

"We all have plenty of data but can it be analyzed, turned into actionable activities and delivered to the right individual or team?"

Effective strategies and their execution

First, companies need to be concerned and vigilant when it comes to information security and data protection. Security must be its own strategy with a multi-year plan to remain ahead of the curve.

Second, execution is always a concern for all companies. The list of projects is long and formidable and most organizations tend to believe they can do more than what is actually feasible. It’s largely a matter of understanding what is strategic and setting priorities based on facts and old fashioned analytics. A manageable list with clear lines of accountability, strong metrics and milestones is critical. It goes back to the simple but powerful adage “what gets measured, gets done.”

“Big Data” and “Technology as a Utility” creating a Buzz

The popular buzz phrase today is “Big Data,” but I would characterize it more precisely and suggest that it is really about intelligence. We all have plenty of data but can it be analyzed, turned into actionable activities and delivered to the right individual or team? This last point is critical as, today, we operate under information overload. It is the directing of this intelligence to the right source that has our attention.

The other big factor is technology as a utility. In the old days a factory would own its own power plant, rail service, and full production capabilities. No plant could operate that way today and remain competitive and in like fashion where no business can own the commodity elements of its infrastructure.

My role as a BIO

It is critical for technology leadership to become more fully aligned to the business lines and P/L owners. Technology has to directly connect to the business strategies, must understand revenue/expense drivers and provide solution options that best fit the needs. Technology should follow with authority. Authority is to have an opinion as to how best to enable meaning that it isn’t about blindly taking orders from the business but listening, understanding and recommending a plan to enable.

Lessons learned as BIO

It starts with better communication. For years there has been a language barrier between the businesses and tech. Lack of transparency, joint problem solving and goal alignment exacerbated the problem resulting in a lack of trust, for which CIOs must lead the change.

Second, prevailing market conditions should never be the catalyst for efficiency rather efficiency has to be the daily operational behavior such that time, resources and capital can be unleashed to fund next generation services. Following the build-up to Y2K technology budgets were projected to drop but the opposite occurred as we witnessed a  steady creep to higher and higher levels. A company that has a goal to retire a specific amount of code each year is more likely to have happier stakeholders.

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