Prudential CIO on Keeping Technology Fresh

When separating technology reality from hype, Prudential Financial CIO Barbara Koster notes that insurance technologists have the problem of finding the money or funding to get new technology while maintaining the old – and the old tend to cost more than the new.

Insurance technology is an interesting adventure. You can’t easily change the system that you use when to record and manage the policy that you sell. It’s unlike banking, where you can swap out the system. At Prudential we have a system that has celebrated its 50th anniversary and it runs well every night. It’s called AOS – Advanced Ordinary System, build by Prudential, written in Prudential COBOL.

But customers are demanding a very different way of working today. Everything needs to be available online. Customers don’t necessarily want to have to talk to you, preferring to transact online. So we need to take the old technology, free up the data in it and present it with new tools. It’s a mix of old and new. So insurance technologists have the problem of finding the money or funding to get new technology while maintaining the old. And the old tends to cost more than the new.

For me, the biggest challenge is keeping technology fresh while still having the old technology that you need to interface to. It presents difficulties with regard to architectural design.

With regard to what’s real and not hype, you cannot exaggerate the importance of the customer experience is hard to exaggerate. The customer wants to use whatever tool at whatever time he or she chooses – maybe an iPad now, a mobile phone in an hour, and a desktop computer tonight. Customers want easy interfaces; it is no longer acceptable to tell customers what they must have. That’s no longer acceptable. Everything is customer-driven today – and that’s a good thing.


Table of Contents: IIR February 2014: CIO Survivors

Editor’s Note:

CIO Survivors: Insurance IT Leaders Who Have Endured, and Why That Matters


Why Insurance CIO Longevity Matters

Profiles in Longevity:

Listener, Leader, Mentor – Barbara Koster, Prudential Financial

Survivors: Mutual Interest – Mike Keller, Nationwide

Partner in Growth – Gary Scholten, Principal Financial Group


Hyped Technologies That Eventually Delivered – Principal Financial CIO

Proven Concepts Yield Next-Gen Trends – Nationwide CIO

Prudential CIO on Keeping Technology Fresh

Barbara G. Koster // Barbara G. Koster is senior vice president and chief information officer for Prudential Financial, Inc., and head of the Global Business & Technology Solutions Department. She has oversight responsibility for information technology at all Prudential locations worldwide and ensures the privacy and integrity of Prudential’s information. She formulates policies, establishes standards and architectures, and develops guidelines and management practices. Koster also manages the company’s global networks, data centers and other technology infrastructure; and oversees the company’s Veterans Initiatives, a companywide program that supports recruiting and other initiatives that help veterans transition from military to civilian life. In addition, Koster is chairman of the board of Pramerica Systems Ireland, Ltd. and founding member of Prudential Systems Japan, Ltd., both technology subsidiaries of Prudential Financial, Inc.

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