Insurance & Technology

IST_1114

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November 2014 11 through technological shifts by building changes into its systems. The system upgrade also required OMIG to replace its mainframe with the IBM iSeries platform and i (OS/400) operating system. In addition to spearheading system selections, Albert led the de- velopment of e-Quip'd and 360access, two platforms created by OMIG that improve service to agents and policyholders. E-Quip'd was designed to provide independent agents with tools that allow them to quote, issue, print, and deliver policies in real time. With 360access, which was developed with WebSphere and Java, policyholders can securely access their personal in- formation, make payments online, re- port loss to their agent, access agent contact information, and print an auto ID card. Over the past few years, OMIG has transitioned its entire product line to e-Quip'd and bills customers with 360access. Prior to e-Quip'd, access to OMIG's business systems was limited to the 200 OMIG associates. After its implementation, access to many business processes was expanded to its 450 independent agents, which required IT staff to manage the security concerns associ- ated with transitioning from a "closed" network to a more open one. Bridge The Gap Though he has always worked in insurance technology, Albert spent the earlier part of his career employed in business units, which has made him especially sensitive to business needs and continues to in- fluence his choices as VP of information systems at OMIG. "That gave me, I think, a key insight into a couple of different things," he says of his business experience. "Technology is just technology, and unless you use that technology to meet the business requirements, you haven't really taken advantage of the things that technology can do for the business." When Albert arrived at OMIG, the 12-person IT staff was tiny, and he struggled to deliver projects to the business units. This changed in 2003, when Jim Kennedy was appointed president and CEO. After dis- cussing the future of IT at the organization, Kennedy provided Albert with resources and authority to modernize its systems and create a more robust partnership between business and IT. The efforts to strengthen that relationship began with the creation of its Project Control Team (PCT), a project committee of 15 to 20 people that meets a few times each month to review business enhancement requests received by IT. While the tech unit has seats on the committee and attends meetings for support, it does not define which projects will take priority in the coming year. Those decisions are left to the 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 de- Previous Table of Contents Next Previous Table of Contents Next www.insurancetech.com Elite 8 2014 Todd Albert "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?"

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