Developing IT and Business Partnerships
Eileen Slevin, chief information officer and head of the Corporate Information Department (CID) at the New York Life Insurance Co., has a background in both technology and business.
“I’ve been with New York Life for 31 years,” she says. “I started with the business side and spent 18 years there, so I understand the thinking of our business executives. That has helped me create partnerships between business and technology.”
Slevin has worked directly with the business side to help create a business strategy with which she can align the technology strategy. Planning for the company’s last major strategic technology vision was completed in 2000, and CID has spent the years since then deploying that strategy by building out infrastructure and mission-critical systems for the Web.
“Last year, we realized that we had to begin planning our next strategic technology vision—taking it to the next level,” Slevin says. “We began working closely with the business side to document their strategy so we can align it with the technology strategy. Our plan now is to lay out the next three- to five-year technology strategy, because we have to build the infrastructure before we can build the applications.
“We’re trying to understand the capabilities the business side thinks they’ll need, and we’re also helping them understand what is possible to do in those areas, given the infrastructure we believe will be the next generation of infrastructure.”
This very strong business-technology alignment is one of the foundations of New York Life’s success. Another is the support of Chairman Sy Sternberg. “Our chairman was a technologist who has always been very supportive of information technology as a business enabler,” Slevin says.
When asked whether she feels her role at New York Life is valued, Slevin replies, “Yes, I definitely feel that I have a place at the table.”