As former chief information officer of Progressive Insurance Co. (Mayfield Village, OH, $10 billion in assets), Glenn Renwick, current president and chief executive officer, is about as tech-savvy as they come. So what is that like for the man who took over his former role? "The fact that he understands technology is a two-edged sword," says Ray Voelker, chief information officer, Progressive. "He understands the complexity, but he also understands how things should run."
Renwick's understanding of how things should run is not limited to technology. In his 15-year tenure with Progressive, Renwick has led his fair share of business processes. He started out as auto product manager for Florida in 1986, adding several other states to his jurisdiction before leading Progressive's consumer marketing group. Renwick took over as business technology process leader in 1998 and spent two years in the role before serving as CEO, insurance operations, in 2000. He was named president and CEO in January of this year.
Renwick is a product of the philosophy that technology and business alignment are key. "Here at Progressive we have technology leaders working arm in arm with business leaders who view their job as solving business problems," says Renwick. "And we have business leaders who are held accountable for understanding the role of technology in their business. Our business plan and IT are inextricably linked because their job objectives are."
According to Voelker, he and Renwick communicate three or four times a week. "Its obviously a lot easier for me to discuss technical things with Glenn," says Voelker. "Although he was only in technology for two years, he has a context for the things that we need to discuss."
The product of such communication, according to Renwick, is strategic technology that benefits both the customer and Progressive. "E-transactions are good for everyonethey give our customers more control over their auto insurance and they provide us with some cost savings," he says.
Renwick, who has been performing his personal financial transactions electronically for years, implemented Personal. Progressive.com while he was CIO. He counts it among Progressive's greatest accomplishments. "We think that it is the best after-the-sale service site on the Internet," says Renwick. "The site gives customers more control over the information about their policy than they've ever had. Information transparency is key at Progressive." Renwick has reason to be proud of the site. It recently received the Spring/Summer 2001 Gomez Internet Insurance Carrier Scorecard WebStar Award. With this award, Progressive becomes the only carrier to receive the award for four consecutive quarters.
Renwick is equally proud of the opening of Progressive's second data center in Mayfield Village, OH. The data center ensures future e-transaction capacity for the company.
Although Renwick is unable to share information about projects that are currently being developed, he was able to say that technical investment will not be reduced going forward. "Have we scaled back technology spending because of the alleged economic slowdown?" Renwick asks. "We can't slow down our efforts. Our business is technology dependant. "
Looking forward to the next five years, Renwick's technological vision is not limited to changing the way customers access their accounts, but also changing the resources available for safer driving. "The Internet, including wireless connectivity, will certainly have a great impact on insurance in the next five years," according to Renwick. "There are other vehicle safety technologies which we think will be very material to us in the future, including automated braking systems, lane detectors and sleep alert detectors, among others."
President & CEO, Progressive Insurance Co. (Mayfield Village, OH, $10 billion in assets).
SIZE OF IT STAFF: 1,941
IF YOU WEREN'T INVOLVED IN THE INSURANCE BUSINESS, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO FOR ALIVING?
"I'd probably be a tennis pro."
"I enjoy multiple sports, outdoors activities and travel."
LAST GOOD BOOK READ:
Everest: Alone at the Summit, by Stephen Venables.