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When some people think of business leaders, chief information officers are not the first to come to mind. But it doesn't have to be that way. Diamond Management and Technology Consultant's third annual Digital IQ Study found that there are significant opportunities for insurance company CIOs to move from tactical responders into strategic leaders. More than 60% of respondents reported that the CIO has an understanding of how advances in IT could significantly influence or change their company's core products and services, but only one in three believe that the CIO is recognized as a business leader, as opposed to just an IT leader.

"Customers are using information and technology differently every day, which continues to create opportunities for CIOs to help drive growth in the business instead of playing order-taker roles," said Jamie Yoder, managing director of Diamond's insurance practice. However, the study found that three-quarters of respondents lack confidence in their companies' IT capabilities. Even worse, respondents said many business leaders feel that the IT department typically stands in the way of corporate innovation.

As the study reveals, there is potential, but there are also many challenges in seeing an insurance company's CIO as a genuine business leader.
Emily Holbrook is the founder of Red Label Writing, LLC, a writing, editing and content strategy firm catering to insurance and risk management businesses and publications, and a former editor of Risk Management.