Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Management Strategies

10:00 AM
Connect Directly

The Power Of Collaboration

Ohio Mutual's Todd Albert believes in a strong relationship between business and IT to develop software and services that benefit the entire business.

“From my standpoint, the very first thing is, what does the business need, and what are the business requirements?” says Albert. “Then we find a technology solution that makes that possible.”

Albert’s strategy is evident in the development of e-Quip’d, which began when the IT team wanted to deliver better service to agents. Its members asked the business units how they could improve the agent experience. After business employees collaborated, it was decided that an online approach would be best — at that point, most applications were processed in paper form. After gaining input from the agents about their priorities, the IT team began to develop the technology.

“We found that as we started to work on the conversion and implementation of new systems, the more people on the business side that we injected into those projects, the better that relationship became,” Albert says. “It became their project and not an IT project, and they took ownership of it.”

Albert continues to demonstrate his commitment to the business by providing additional staff training. About 4% of the IT budget is allocated to training and related travel expenses. IT professionals spend plenty of time taking insurance and business courses to better understand the dynamics of that part of the business.

“Our technical folks can talk at just about any level about business requirements,” says Albert. “That is just key.”

Inspiration For Innovation

The collaborative strength at OMIG has been critical to driving innovation throughout the company. New project ideas are typically generated by the business, and then receive the necessary developmental support from IT.

[More Elite 8 insights: An Agile Path to Success]

As a recent example, Albert describes how two employees from commercial lines and IT got together to brainstorm how they could use Google Maps to visualize areas where OMIG may have an overexposure of property in locations with unfavorable weather patterns.

The pair received a go-ahead and went on to develop a platform that projects incoming or recent storms and evaluates the potential for loss. Through Google Maps and GPS coordinates, it places a virtual “pin” on every piece of property OMIG insures so it knows whether it needs to deploy additional resources or claims processing support.

A Stronger Culture

Albert’s dedication to business priorities and organizational growth has influenced his process for recruiting tech professionals. OMIG has hired multiple IT employees who were originally working in business areas but expressed interest in switching to technology, he explains. When evaluating candidates, he prioritizes their personal values over technological prowess.

“You can teach most people to understand tech and write code and develop systems,” he says. “What we concentrate on when we hire people is this: Are they a fit for the Guiding Principles of our company? Do they fit the culture of our IT organization?”

The strength and success of his team help give Albert gratification from his role at OMIG. Mentoring the company’s future leaders motivates him, as does watching them succeed in their projects and move forward in their careers.

“The farther you go up the chain in management, I think the less satisfaction you get from your own accomplishments,” he says. “I go home some days and think, ‘What did I really accomplish today?’ You almost have to step back and say, ‘What did our folks accomplish today in the IT and business units?’ I get my pleasure and I get my motivation from the things that those folks are completing and the success that we’re having as a company as the result of those things.”

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

2 of 2
Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters