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Management Strategies

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“Take Chances,” And More Innovation Strategies From Elite 8 Forum

Industry experts discussed best practices of their innovative companies and shared key strategies for success.

Innovation is a hot topic in the insurance industry and was at the forefront of a panel at the Insurance & Technology Elite 8 Forum held last Thursday at New York's Trump Soho hotel. Participants shared insights on how to foster innovation among employees. In addition, each illustrated their advice with an example of how innovation fits within his or her organization. Does your company need an innovation boost? Take a look at these words of advice and best practice examples:

"Innovation is deliberately thinking about business problems and unmet needs." – Robin Arendt, Global CIO, XL Group

Arendt is a proponent of modernization and innovative ideas at XL Group. Early on, she created an innovation team to foster creativity within the company, which made an impact but not the big one she originally sought. Arendt soon learned that in order to achieve sustainable innovation, it must be embedded within the company culture. Employees must be aware of business goals in order to create innovative solutions.

"Keep business moving in other areas." – Peter Moreau, senior VP and CIO, Amica Mutual Insurance

Amica faced a challenge when the company decided to modernize its core systems, a process that consumed a lot of time and money. Moreau knew that modernization would allow the company to do more through mobile and the web, but also that their budget could not be expanded. The key to overcoming obstacles, he noted, was to pursue other initiatives and focus on every part of the company during modernization. Now that they have achieved modernization, Amica aims to give their customers better experiences through the company website and mobile devices.

[ Read more about Moreau's experience in innovation: Amica's Peter Moreau Innovates With Local Pride. ]

"People need to take chances." – Michael Healy, executive director and CIO, AXA Equitable

AXA is taking chances in IT by embracing new technology trends and ensuring employees understand them. Healy illustrated this point with the example of their annuity product suite, which was implemented in 2007. AXA went from one product to four and made a major step forward in cost efficiency and customer service.

Healy also emphasized the importance of balance in innovation. Everyone wants to make upgrades in digital and cloud technologies, he said, but it's also necessary to allot adequate budget to refresh your product suite and infrastructure upgrades in order to support them.

"It's all about customer experience." – Suresh Muthuswami, president at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

Modern companies have less control in customer service, Muthuswami noted. Customers are constantly talking, tweeting and commenting about how their experiences were satisfactory or could be improved. Businesses should alter their processes to change customer experiences based on this ubiquitous feedback, he said.

In today's tech-driven society, the concept of the digital insurer is evolving. Customers want omnichannel experiences and support for digital devices. The technology is there, Muthuswami said, but companies must learn to use it to leverage innovation.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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