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Reinventing Capabilities Across Insurance Value Chain

By Raymond J Oral, CIO, CNA Insurance


Raymond J Oral, CIO, CNA Insurance

Flexibility and Reduction of Cost

Our organization faces the challenge of reducing the complexity and risk associated with a legacy environment, while at the  same time optimizing existing business capabilities and rapidly adjusting to support new and emerging investmentopportunities, such as Digital Transformation. And, we are working to accomplish these objectives while continuing  to fund incremental business changes that drive step wise improvements as we adapt to changing business conditions. As we  advance our ambitions to enrich the digital ecosystem for every user touch point, we are reinventing our web, mobile, social  media and analytics capabilities across the entire insurance value chain, to support a “connected  and consistent” experience that complements our traditional channels. To meet these challenges, we are making a significant organizational investment of funding and leadership capacity to migrate off of aging systems to strategic platforms. This both simplifies our environment and supports our business transformation. We have been successful in achieving a more flexible and lower cost structure through our use of technology providers as managed services partners.

Requirement of sufficient resources for business knowledge and technology depth

Cloud computing and Software-as-a- Service delivery models continue to advance, and we are actively looking at how to make the most use of those models. We already leverage SaaS in key areas, such as Claims and HR. We are looking at expanding into  areas, like data analytics. We will continue looking out for new offerings as they continue to mature for the insurance industry. We’ve done much to mitigate our most serious risks. My biggest worries revolve around ensuring we have sufficient resources–both internally and with our partners–that bring the right level of both  business knowledge and technology depth. And as we continually increase our collaboration with our business partners,  colleagues who can effectively bridge the gap will become more critical to our efforts.

Cloud and Analytics : Two Current Trends

As I mentioned, the increasing maturity of cloud is of great interest to us.  In business terms, cloud translates to more flexibility and simplification which, in turn, helps us keep our operational expenses in check. It also improves our ability to provision rapidly, as well as further facilitates a more variable cost structure. Our efforts to deepen expertise within CNA around analytics and best leverage the insights we obtain are great examples of how business collaboration combined with  technology improvements significantly increases the leverage of technology.

My role as a CIO

At CNA, Technology is seen as integral to most all of our transformational efforts, and I am a partner with our business leaders in framing our most significant initiatives. There has also been a change in the need to manage what, for me and for many CIOs, have become global delivery organizations. This refers not only to off-shore providers, but a technology environment that increasingly sits outside the data center and across many partners. Mobile, “Big Data”, and cloud are all examples of critical trends that are well outside the historical realm of the CIO, and require a much broader view to manage.

Lastly, there is an avid interest in understanding what drives our costs within IT and more importantly what our business areas can do to help contain or reduce our ongoing costs in order to invest more in strategic capabilities. This has required increased transparency on the part of IT but is bearing benefits for CNA. Exciting times indeed!

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