Where do you start with technology led change?


Discover key insights on delivering successful transformational change within insurance, the importance of having a clear strategy and developing a truly agile organisation.

We discussed the challenges and best practices with Natasha O'Kane, Head of Digital Transformation at Unum UK, Vicky Mills, Senior Manager, Solutions Consulting at Duck Creek Technologies, and Tim Yorke, Former Chief Operating Officer, Commercial at AXA.

Advert promoting the TINtech 2022 real world event


Natasha: Don't start that technology and to start at the customer end, that really is the key because you need to understand the why of what you're doing. And and myself as a technologist and I don't know about you guys, but one of my little pet peeves is when people come with something already solutionised and you have to take it right back and understand why are we doing what we're doing and talk about that and really driving it back to the to the business case, otherwise, we could end up spending millions and millions replacing some green screen mainframe system that might not get that return on investment.

Vicky: Yes. And I think it harps back to when I was working in insurance rather than on this sort of tech side of insurance, seeing innovation and seeing new technologies is kind of exciting, shiny new thing and just wanting to innovate, and not just doing it for the sake of it rather than like, Tim says, starting off with. Why are you actually doing this? Is it through a customer lens and sees it through a data lens? Is it through an efficiency lens? And then looking at the right technology to enable that, rather than just looking at something cool and thinking I might get one of them, and I think you also then can get totally paralyzed by the amount of choice. There's so many really cool solutions that actually do you need them? Is it going to improve your customer service or your efficiency? Or is it just something new and shiny?

Tim: I think I couldn't. I couldn't agree more for. Absolutely right. And it also allows you to start to break this down into manageable chunks, doesn't it. Because I think one of the problems that many of these projects that we've perhaps seen in the past is that, you know, the last 10 years, and by the time you finish, you've built something that's now five years out of date, you know, so. So actually, what you need to be able to do is to phase your way through that and building capability to meet strategic needs. There's a couple of things for you. First of all, you start to pay back early. Secondly, you start learning about what technology can and can't do and how good you are doing it and what you can do. But also then shapes your thinking for the future, doesn't it? Because you you start to think differently about the future once you've done something and learned from doing that process. So it's Agile is'nt it. I was trying to avoid the 'A' word because it means so many things to so many people? But but it's, you know, it's going through that process of iterative learning, which is the future. Now, I think the old days have gone now it's it's kind of learning from, almost chaos. As we as we move forward.

Natasha: Yeah, I was going to drop the the A-bomb there, Tim as well. A little bit nervous, but I'm glad you said it first and someone had to. I think we have to ask ourselves, are we being truly agile? And, you know, taking it back to the ethos and principles of why we do deliver agile. It's seemed to get value to the customer as soon as possible to learn from that. You know, sprinting every two weeks does not agile make, and I think a lot of us have fallen into that trap. You know, we have scrum master, two week sprint cycles, but are we actually delivering the value to the customer and on a regular basis to be able to learn from it? And I think, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we might not get the best answer back.

Jeremy: I just want you to kind of pick up on something that we had in that in the previous session, which was around the the discussion we've just had there about innovation. Something Sarah said that there's kind of strategic approach to technology change, but then there's also a tactical necessity that sometimes you just need to do things and. And Tim, I wonder in the very kind of clear kind of, you must understand your strategic goals and you put your plan in place, in the real world, when when you actually get down to, you know, prioritizing and we're going to come onto prioritizing things shortly. But do you find the tactical stuff, just just the stuff to get things done, to get us over the next, whatever it is, can get in the way of that bigger strategic thinking piece? Is that is that where we might fall down a bit?

Tim: I think I understand that. And just to clarify what I mean by strategy, I think strategy itself is is going to become more agile over time, in that what we're not going to have is a 10 year plan to deliver a very specific set of outcomes. And I think that's going to slip away. But if you're in a position where you understand that your strategic objective is growth, for example, or growth in particular segments or whatever, once you've set those parameters, it then allows you to look at the set of tactical opportunities that you've got to say; What should we do first? Where should we go first? What should we..? Unless you've got that back to Vicky's point, you've got a huge choice of things that you could start to do. And how do them. And I think we've all probably sat there, haven't we? There maybe been a few consultants in in there, some glorious slideage on some on some bookshelves somewhere. But the question is what do we do on Tuesday? And I think if strategy allows you to make priority choices and then you into this process of once I prioritize, that's when we can get going and agile starts to become valuable because, you know, we're not going to run a four year project. We're going to run maybe a six months project in a series of sprints to deliver outcomes and learn from it as we go and start to build.

Vicky: I think that's definitely a sweet spot somewhere between being sort of too myopic and just putting patches on and being very tactical and, like you say, the sort of 10 year plan that's out of date five years later. So I think there's. There's a happy medium somewhere in between. So what can you do that's quick, that achieves your aims in the short term, but also not being blind kind of future proofing that. So it is still relevant and still continues to provide that value and a sort of medium term?

Natasha: There is a sweet spot of running those tracks in parallel with the tactical and the strategy because you can't wait for the strategy bits. How do you make sure you keep those not just aligned, but make sure that you don't contradict each other with what you're delivering?

Advert promoting the TINtech 2022 real world event

TIN youtalk weBlog Icon


HDI Global and HDI Global Specialty’s UK and Ireland branches will, for the first time, be aligned under a common leadership structur

What is your role at Harbour Underwriting?I am the business operations analyst for Harbour Underwriting.