Entries by Mark O'Brien

Get in Their Interfaces

In a conversation about user interfaces the other day, we were reminded of the old saying, typically attributed to an unnamed doctor: “The operation was a success. But the patient died.” We’re not equating software developers to doctors by any stretch. But it does occur to us that the best software (by any criteria) could […]

What Constitutes Your Infrastructure?

According to dictionary.com, infrastructure is defined as: The basic, underlying framework or features of a system or organization The fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city, or area, as transportation and communication systems, power plants, and schools. The insurance industry typically considers infrastructure to mean the technological architectures within which hardware and software are purchased, deployed, […]

Build vs. Buy … Still?

The insurance industry’s debate over whether it’s better to build systems or to buy them dates back almost 3,772 years to the reign of King Hammurabi in Babylon. Within the Code of Hammurabi, the first written insurance policy was inscribed into a Babylonian obelisk. It indemnified debtors against re-paying loans if some personal catastrophe made […]

Software as Job Security

We’ve never conducted any kind of formal or official poll on this. But we’re willing to bet that if we asked most insurers and their employees if they considered their software to be an asset to their organizations and their people — or some kind of threat or liability — the majority would say the […]

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum

We had the opportunity to attend the NAMIC Farm Mutual Forum, which took place May 21st to the 23rd in Columbus, Ohio. And a funny thing happened on our way there. We were reading descriptions of the sessions to be conducted over the course of the Forum, and three of them, in particular, jumped out at us: […]

Chickens, Eggs, and Language

In the insurance industry, which is highly regulated but stubbornly non-standard, we seem to spend a lot of time explaining ourselves, don’t we? Do you ever wonder why? We have a theory: We think it’s because of human nature. As human beings, we’re not terribly interested in smallest, slowest, oldest, least capable, or most common. […]

Options Are No Longer Optional

Are system configurations and product development sciences or arts? Depending on your perspective, they could be either or both. We’re not sure. But we are sure your technology should afford you the right to choose. Here’s our perspective: Y2K was almost 20 years ago. What’s that got to do with anything? Much. The myriad computer-scientific […]

Say What You Mean

If we were given the choice of eliminating one word from the language, it might be proprietary. Aside from the fact that it could mean as many things as there are people who want to consider whatever it is they want to consider proprietary, the term is particularly problematic when it’s applied to data. In […]

Independence Day

What do you expect when you work with a software vendor? That’s not a rhetorical question. When you decide to work with — to enter into a mutually binding contractual obligation with — a software vendor, you have a set of expectations. Regardless of whether you state or document all of those expectations, you have […]