Herenstein holds a bachelor’s degree from The City College
of New York and a master’s degree in business administration
from St. John’s University.
What is the biggest leadership challenge you
face in IT and how do you deal with it?
HERENSTEIN: My greatest leadership challenge is to develop
and maintain a technically competent, as well as extremely business knowledgeable, IT team. The rate of technology change
continues at a very rapid pace. More products are available via
cloud/shared service than ever. Package products are becoming ready for use, particularly in commodity businesses. The
challenge is to keep the team learning and growing while at the
same time delivering products rapidly, with high quality, and
in the right price range. Shifting from a custom build environment to package/cloud solutions is a challenge
What technologies do you feel are under-used in
the insurance industry today?
HERENSTEIN: Even though we are in the data business, I
think we are under using the massive stores of information
available today. So much data is collected and maintained about
our markets, the insureds, properties, vehicles. We could make
far greater use of that data for policy process functions, underwriting, claims, and other services we provide. Using public
data to fill out forms and applications could reduce the administrative burden significantly.
How satisfied are you with the relationship be-
tween the business side and IT?
HERENSTEIN: I am very satisfied with the relationship with
the business. We work as a team to provide an outstanding
experience for our
agents and policy-
holders. Our team works closely
to identify the needs of the business, develop plans, budgets,
and priorities, and design and implement the solutions as
a team. By maintaining this methodology, we find that we
achieve a greater rate of success as we typically work on the
things that have the greatest importance and/or impact.
What are your greatest concerns with the way
the IT department currently operates?
HERENSTEIN: My greatest concern is transitioning from the
old ways to the new ones as the rate of technological change
continues at such a rapid pace. We have many platforms (and
teams that support them) that were written years ago. This creates two problems of technical debt and it keeps some associates
bound to older technologies. I do not think we move people in
and out of these groups regularly enough to insure that we don’t
end up with single-person dependency or we exclude individuals from technical growth.
How will the operation of your IT department
change over the next five years?
HERENSTEIN: Over the next five years I expect the IT department will change to adjust to the increased use of cloud services, Software as a Service, package solutions, the Internet of
Things, and increased cost pressures. We will begin to become
expert more at configuration, integration and service layers
than one-off development. We have progressed from binary
programming to class libraries, to data translation. IT relies on
this change to bring continuous improvement to their business
Electronic Chat: Arne Herenstein
The Electronic Chat is a regular feature of ITA Pro magazine and the
ITApro.org website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT
leader and look for thought-provoking responses on important issues
facing the insurance industry.
This issue, we chat with Arne Herenstein, who has served
as senior vice president and CIO of Harleysville Insurance
for the last three years. Prior to joining Harleysville,
Herenstein worked as a vice president of information
technology with OneBeacon Insurance for 10 years.
Earlier in his career, Herenstein served in IT leadership
positions with CIGNA, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and