Nationwide's Take on Technology Risk

George McKinnon, CIO for Nationwide Mutual Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, says this is his take on assessing and managing risk: "I think one philosophical statement does not reflect all aspects of a larger organization. In an environment like ours, there are certain areas where it’s necessary to be very risk-averse; for example, we are regimented about [insurance] rate changes and things like that which are regulated. But there’s also a need for experimentation and piloting.

"We are realistic; not every good idea that comes up is going to go into production. For example, for a couple of years now we’ve seen wireless claims-estimating tools. It’s a really neat product, and we tested it ourselves maybe 18 months ago but didn’t see the return we wanted, and we didn’t go forward with it. The wireless insurance quote is also neat, and we could have done that too, but I just don’t see someone sitting in the airport wanting to do a wireless check on their insurance rate.

"But you have to be aware of what’s out there, and I would say if you’re always following, you’re suboptimizing your technology investment somewhat.

"So a healthy organization has a mix [of risk levels]."

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