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Management Strategies

11:24 AM
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New AXA Tech CTO Vincent Cohan Drives Global Focus

Moving away from a more regional orientation, AXA's IT services organization will provide worldwide network connectivity and management of IT assets, hardware and software, change control and incident management.

As AXA Technology Services' new CTO, Vincent Cohan sees his job as continuous with an outstanding record in terms of both cost efficiency and service to the AXA Group (Paris; 91 billion in revenue for 2008) technology provider's corporate and regional CIO customers. However, Cohan is charged with taking AXA Tech to its next level, moving from a more regional to a global focus.

Cohan, who joined AXA in December 2008, is responsible for AXA Tech's global architecture and strategy; IT risk and quality; internal information systems; transnational operations — which includes the service provider's clients who don't fit into major regional AXA operations — and AXA Tech's emerging Global Network Services organization. Unlike his predecessor in the CTO role, Cohan is based in Jersey City, N.J. rather than Paris, but he reports to AXA Tech CEO Etienne Aubourg, who is based in the French capital.

Global Service Provider

"One of the key tasks Etienne has given me is to help transition the organization to more of a global service provider," Cohan says. "This is the continuation of an evolution that began over the last several years, as AXA Tech moved from being country-based to more of a regionally oriented organization."

"One of the goals that we're trying to accomplish is to make it easier for both assets and individuals to communicate from a data point of view across our different regions," says Vincent Cohan, CTO, AXA Technology Services.
A major initiative in support of that goal is AXA Tech's Cornerstone initiative, which Cohan characterizes as the development and deployment of a consistent set of core, ITIL-compliant processes across the international AXA enterprise. Cornerstone will enable better leverage of AXA's worldwide IT infrastructure skills, better support of transnational business initiatives and improved service quality and efficiency for AXA Tech's customers, according to Cohan.

"This is much more than a tool-deployment project; in fact, the tools are really the easy part," Cohan comments. "Cornerstone is aimed at making sure that we have a consistent way of dealing with incident management, change management, management of IT assets, hardware and software and service requests across the global AXA organization so that we can leverage the capabilities we have in a more efficient manner."

Once Cornerstone is realized, AXA will have one set of processes and tools available to AXA Tech users when dealing with AXA on a global level. "For example, if an incident were triggered in Portugal, we could very easily pass the ticket across the organization to any number of teams across the world to work on it," Cohan explains. "Users would be able to track the progress of their requests through the entire organization, as opposed to getting hung up on points where today it would meet a different process or tool set."

AXA Tech's Global Network Services organization, currently being formed, will be another important step in the full globalization of the service company. "One of the goals that we're trying to accomplish is to make it easier for both assets and individuals to communicate from a data point of view across our different regions," Cohan says.

That communication will enable a user in, say, New York, to leverage an application that could be partially hosted in Germany and partially hosted in Australia, Cohan explains. "As that type of a model starts to grow and we begin to leverage our assets more, a regional focus on networks becomes more challenging and it becomes increasingly important to manage the network as a global fabric," he adds. "Clearly some of the ways to resolve those kinds of challenges will be to enhance connectivity and make some physical infrastructure changes in the way these networks are interconnected."

Data Center Utility

Cohan's initiatives will improve the experience of regional CIOs who have sometimes been burdened by infrastructure duties superfluous to their application management concerns, believes Kevin Murray, executive vice president and CIO, AXA Equitable (New York), and head of AXA Tech North America. "As a consumer of AXA Tech resources, I want them to look and feel like a commodity so I don't have to worry about it," he comments. "Vinny's strategy and his initiatives related to the Cornerstone program will create the data center utility that all the CIOs are looking for. Then CIOs can focus on strategic development and not be distracted by infrastructure issues."

As important as AXA Tech's more strategic transition to a globally oriented operating profile may be to AXA's regional CIOs, Cohan insists on characterizing his contributions as a continuation of what was set in motion prior to his arrival. He says, "If you look at what AXA Tech has done over the last seven or eight years since it was established, it's a pretty impressive track record, both from a service and a cost savings view, so this is continuing on a path we've been on for some time."

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

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