Jan Franklin, a 25-year veteran of Farmers Insurance Group, has been appointed CIO for the Los Angeles-based carrier, following the promotion of Cecilia Claudio to CIO for continental Europe for Zurich Financial Services (Farmers' parent company).
Among Franklin's top priorities in her new role will be to identify efficiency opportunities. "We're looking at how we can run our back office and infrastructure much more efficiently than we do today," she says. "I'll be looking to see how I can drive more cost out of the utility side of IT.
One of the areas that Farmers will continue to focus "relates to service, not only to our approximately 14,000 agents, but also to the 40,000 to 50,000 people who work in their offices," she says. The carrier has been working to help agents transition from the "green screen" world to Web-based options, and Farmers is currently building a new marketing management system for its independent distribution force.
An emphasis on efficiency will also inform another priority: Farmers' focus on the quality of customer experience, according to Franklin. "We provide our customers with results -- daily, weekly and monthly scorecards -- and we are currently going through a review to ensure that we're performing to customer expectations and to see if we are measuring the right things," Franklin explains. "Part of that is considering what efficiency opportunities we have. We have to make sure that we aren't over-delivering. If a customer doesn't really expect something in, say, half a second, we may reconsider providing it if we can achieve a significant savings."
A 25-year veteran of Farmers, Franklin has been in technology posts for nearly her entire career. "I've held various roles in technology, both on the application and infrastructure side," she says. Having been chief operating officer for IT, Franklin reports, "about a year-and-a-half ago I took a sort of side step into the business side to expand my growth -- so that potentially I could be looking at a senior position on the business side, and also to better quality me for CIO: to see truly the impact that IT has on the business and to see some of the opportunities that are out there."
During that period Franklin ran the carrier's largest service center, based in Simi Valley, CA. As executive director, Franklin was in charge of approximately 550 employees responsible for "exception business" -- or what she describes as "those kinds of things that the underwriting decision systems can't handle." The center handled 50,000 to 100,000 phone calls monthly, Franklin reports. Running the center was "a tremendous opportunity to see what other possibilities were out there, where we could find efficiency gains, and where we could find opportunities to better achieve higher business value using technology."
More information about Jan Franklin's technology philosophy and plans in her new position will appear in the May 2003 issue of Insurance & Technology, appearing soon at www.insurancetech.com.
Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio