What is the biggest leadership challenge you
face in IT and how are you dealing with it?
FIsk: The biggest challenge we face today is transitioning
our technology organization from one focused on the direct
provision of legacy technology services to one focused on service management, innovation, and becoming a true value-add
This requires not only changes in culture and mindset but
also a reconfiguration and up-skilling of our current workforce.
In the last couple of years our company has had a couple of high
profile wins in the innovation space and we want to ensure that
we maintain a constant focus in this area.
We recently conducted a global technology skills inventory focused on emerging and differentiating technologies. As
a result of that survey we are currently working on several
initiatives that will provide our workforce the skills and tools
to meet a changing business demand. We are building a
technology knowledge center that will provide communities
for collaboration and learning. We are also creating a new advanced solutions service function focused solely on emerging
Which technologies do you feel are underuti-
lized in the industry today?
FIsk: One area that we are focusing on is mobility. Given our
industry is highly dependent on human interaction, connection, and collaboration, the ability to produce on-demand
analytics and “what if” scenarios is critical. We have historically restricted non-approved devices and applications, but
need to re-evaluate that position. We can no longer absolutely
restrict tools that have the potential to add value to our business
partners. We are working in areas such as device management
to allow our business partners to work on the go with the tools
they need and still protect critical company data.
What steps is
to attract and
IT workers for a career in
FIsk: We have revived our graduate internship program
to attract and retain young IT talent. In today’s technology
environment, a lot of the ideas that are making an impact are
coming from the younger generation that has yet to even enter
the workforce. By combining these inquisitive minds with seasoned mentors we believe we can harness the power that these
young minds can bring to an organization.
Are you satisfied with the connection between
the business side and IT? If not, what steps are
being taken to improve this?
FIsk: We have historically done a good job of maintaining
critical business systems and developing and supporting the
apps that run our business. That part of the connection with
the business has been consistently good. However, we are
mostly viewed as a technology organization that “keeps the
engine running” more so than one that innovates and brings
new ideas to the table. That is the perception we are working
At the end of the day, what is your greatest
FIsk: My greatest concern is that as a technology organization
we won’t be flexible and agile enough to meet the changing
business demands of the future. I do take comfort in the fact
that we realize there is a challenge and it is a primary focus for
us. We are taking aggressive actions to drive value through
technology solutions. ITA
Electronic Chat: Lance Fisk
The Electronic Chat is a regular feature of ITA Pro magazine and ITApro.
org. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader looking for
thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance
This month’s Electronic Chat is with Lance Fisk,
Chief Operating Officer-Technology, with the Willis
Group Holdings, a global risk advisor, insurance, and
reinsurance broker. With roots dating to 1828, Willis
operates today on every continent with more than
17,000 employees in over 400 offices.