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Consumerization of IT in the Insurance Industry

By Brad Hildestad, CIO, COUNTRY Financial

Brad Hildestad, CIO, COUNTRY Financial

What are the challenges you’ve witnessed happening in the insurance space?

Many industries are going through significant change and the insurance industry is no different. Technology is driving a fundamental shift in consumer expectations and has changed how insurance products are marketed. What is sometimes called the consumerization of IT has raised customer and user expectations of insurance companies. Our customers and representatives have expectations that insurance technology is progressive and as they use it at home. In addition to agent advice they want digital interaction, seamless business processes, and round-the-clock service. As insurance providers, we need to build our systems to make it easy for consumers to interact. Although embracing new technology poses challenges for insurance companies, it also presents terrific opportunities and exciting work opportunities for professionals in the insurance industry. We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can interact with the customers digitally through user-friendly websites, mobile apps, and customer service. We also have plans to leverage AI and chatbots to answer individuals’ questions with little or no manual interference.

Could you elaborate on some of the global trends existing currently?

• How consumers want to do business with us, i.e., how they want to buy insurance and get service is changing, they want advice from a representative and the ability to interact digitally.

• Many trends are emerging related to the technology workforce as well. The demand for technology professionals is enormous and I anticipate this will continue. Supply will be a challenge in the future. Companies need to think about their workforce and ensure that they have meaningful work and flexible work environments, where they can have harmony with their work and home life, and sophisticated technology to attract and retain the workforce.

• Other trends include robotic process automation, AI, and blockchain. Insurance companies and IT professionals in the industry need to understand these technologies and understand how they can implement them into their business projects.

What is the impact of AI on the future of insurance?

It is going to change the working pattern that companies have in place, and this could have an impact on their workforce as well as change how consumers interact with them. Embracing data analytics has become important as data about consumers helps organizations offer products and services in a personalized manner.

Could you talk about your approach to identify the right partnership/ solutions provider?

It’s about both internal and external customers; understand what their needs and desires are and how you are going to deliver technologies to meet your needs. Make the selection based on your business objectives, their past successes, and upon how they fit into your technology strategy or delivery plans. Also, price and effectiveness are other factors to be considered.

What are some of the points of discussion that go on within your leadership team?

It is very focused around our customers—what their expectations are and what products that we have in place to serve them. We focus on providing our customers financial security from our product portfolio.

How would you see the evolution a few years from now with regard to disruptions and transformations within the insurance industry?

We don’t know for sure what disruptions may take place; however, we do know that the industry is changing, and that technology will be a big part of that change. We know consumers are going to need financial security, so keeping an eye toward the consumer and changing technology is a good place to start.

What would be a piece of advice that you could impart to a CIO who looks to embark on a similar venture along the lines of your service?

My advice is always to be open to change, forward thinking, be progressive in how you do your work and the technologies that you select. Anchor to a strong workforce and challenge them to become agile and faster in delivering products and services.

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