By Layne Alfred , Marketing Associate
While the responsibilities of CIOs in the insurance industry have been traditionally defined as devising IT objectives and implementing technologies to optimize strategies, today’s CIOs are taking on very different responsibilities.
CIOs can no longer only focus solely on IT systems—they’ve had to adopt a much broader view of the company as a whole. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Of some 131 CIOs surveyed late last year, nearly all said they have greater business responsibilities today, compared to two years ago… [and] 84% said their role had become more strategic than in the past.”
- 84% 84%
What’s causing this shift in role for today’s CIOs? The answer lies in the technology itself.
Insurance CIOs Looking at the “Big Picture”
Recent advancements in technology such as higher-level analytics and artificial intelligence have allowed insurance CIOs to reimagine how their businesses operate and how their products are delivered. Although product development and the adoption of new technological tools play enormous roles in advanced user experience, it is becoming increasingly important to focus on how they are being delivered and how the user is interacting with them. Plus, with a rising demand from younger customers for advanced technology in the insurance sphere, CIOs must prioritize overall strategy and business agility more than ever.
The Enterpriser’s Project examined Deloitte’s 2018 global CIO survey and found that a whopping “96 percent of executives say digital is a strategic business priority.” In this age of rapid technological advancement where tech fluency is increasing in most companies, it’s not surprising that many business executives are viewing technology as an essential asset for everyone involved. What is surprising is that it’s the digital leaders themselves who are shifting their focus towards culture and deliverability and depending less on single initiatives to drive revenue and client satisfaction. CIOs now have an opportunity to look at the intricacies of the way the business itself operates, such as increasing communication between departments and fostering an overall culture of innovative thinking.
“The shift from viewing technology as a back office function to understanding its role as a strategic lever for growth has meaning for technology people at every level,” said Karl G. Gouverneur, Vice President of Digital Workplace and Corporate Solutions and Head of Digital Innovation of Northwestern Mutual,  “The heavier focus now [for CIOs] is on digital transformation, measurable outcomes, quality of client experience, and insights delivered… We used to be fortifiers; now we’re explorers.”
Meeting New Technology Demands
For CIOs, further modernizing technology within the insurance industry means streamlining and simplifying processes while also reaching for new and innovative ways of enhancing deliverability. When LOMA Resource asked about prioritized IT initiatives, many CIOs described customer experience as being the most important.
“[The initiatives] will allow us to implement self-service capabilities for our customers, and digital sales support, e.g., digital application and enrollment capabilities for advisors,” said Louise Billmeyer, Vice President and CIO of U.S. Insurance Solutions. Billmeyer also stressed that these initiatives will “significantly enhance customer experience around data quality and speed of access.”
The efforts towards increasing speed and quality of service are largely in part due to a millennial demand for convenience. Insurance providers and other financial companies are scrambling to out-compete each other for younger customers that will remain with them for years to come. Because of this, it is no longer enough for CIOs to focus on single technological initiatives– they must stay ahead of the curve. This means driving innovation, inspiring change in all facets of the business and making sure all current technologies are constantly being reformed. Implementing increased security and making customer request processes as autonomous as possible are among CIOs’ top initiatives for meeting these demands.
IT Initiatives Changing the Culture
Though the success of many of these client experience-related initiatives will be partly determined by trending technological tools, CIOs are also focusing on overall business practices and culture to drive client satisfaction.
“In the role of CIO we are often drawn to a technology or organizational element… [but] it is culture that makes advancement sustainable,” said Greg Driscoll, Senior Vice President of Service Operations and CIO of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, “It is no longer enough to focus on running the enterprise; rather I believe the CIO is positioned to help shape how a firm delivers on its strategic and operational goals.”
For insurance companies today, the relationship with technology is push-pull. Advancements allow companies to implement solutions that will allow for increased client satisfaction with or without forward-thinking CIOs, but for how long?
How is your company stacking up? Here were the top initiatives for insurance CIOs in 2018 as reported by LOMA Resource:
Principal Financial Group
- Self-service capabilities for customers
- Digital sales support
- Digital application and enrollment capabilities for advisors
- MDM (Master Data Management)
- Accelerated transformation of digital and client experience
- Continuous integration/continuous delivery
- Engagement with startups and venture capital ecosystem
- Modernization of core legacy systems
- Cloud migration
- Advanced cybersecurity
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
- Advanced cybersecurity
- Cloud migration
- Automation and artificial intelligence
The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company
- More functionalities for underwriting application
- Increased automation in advisor experiences
Curious about how your tech strategy is working for your organization? Contact us today for a free health check.
1 Tammy McInturff Appel, “CIOs Discuss Strategy, Challenges and Industry Changes,” LOMA Resource. March 2018.
About the Author: I am a writer and editor responsible for marketing projects here at Pyramid Solutions. In my free time I like to sing, do yoga and volunteer at animal shelters.