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How is New York Life’s Digital Transformation Enhancing Its 175-Year-Old Mission to Protect Families?

How does a company founded more than 175 years ago with an altruistic mission to protect families, do an even better job of getting close to and engaging their customers in a time of profound digital transformation? How can insurers amplify their ability to provide security and peace of mind in an era of straight-through-processing, sales portals and AI?

For Alex Cook, Head of Strategic Capabilities at New York Life, the solution is to deeply understand the very long-term mission of the organization and then ensure that each element of the digital transformation supports that goal. Every modernization initiative has to enable New York Life to deliver on its mission to protect families and their futures.

Leveraging digital technology to fulfill the New York Life Mission

For New York Life, fulfilling its mission involves integrating several critical functions: innovation services, business development and the investment side of the business, New York Life Ventures. Together, these functions drive digital transformation‒ in the service of delivering on the perennial core mission.

Legacy platform modernization

In a recent Life Accelerated podcast Alex described an IT landscape that many carriers are all too familiar with and that is central to the challenge of digitally transforming:

We've been on a journey to modernize a lot of our core legacy technology platforms. We still have mainframe systems that date back to the 1970s and 1980s for policy administration, as an example.

‒Alex Cook, Head of Strategic Capabilities, New York Life

The foundation of any digital transformation is to retire legacy core systems, like decades old policy admin platforms, and replace that technology with modern solutions that enable faster product development and API connectivity, so data can be shared in real-time with new digital sales and service solutions.

System consolidation and the freeing of data make it possible to implement the sales & service portals, eApps, underwriting and claims solutions that are crucial to delivering superior customer experiences and enhancing the company’s ability to provide solutions that protect families.

The solution in New York Life’s case is to roll out a new digital insurance platform that will integrate advisor solutions, modern policy admin systems (PAS) and novel insuretech solutions to age-old challenges.

Advisor and client experience solutions

The organization is enhancing customer experience by implementing technology that speeds processes and increases advisor effectiveness. They recognize that in today’s digital environment, advisors must still engage in a robust dialogue with clients around their protection needs using a planning framework, coupled with tools that make the purchase process much easier.

The goal is to enhance the sales process so that it evolves away from a traditional transactional approach. Instead, it should become a long-term holistic model in which advisors have a full understanding of the entire range of their clients’ needs and consult with them about the broad array of solutions that can be provided.

To achieve this, the company has invested heavily in developing agent and advisor capabilities and tools‒including a new solution for advisors called, Guide Me. It is built around a customer interaction model and is New York Life’s first step towards creating a digital sales platform that really enables that client and advisor experience to blossom.

As for the purchase process itself, the new digital platform will enable New York Life to bring together eApplications and solutions that enable fast track underwriting without the need for fluid collection so that policy decisions are streamlined and accelerated.

Investing in insuretech

At the same that New York Life is innovating internally and focusing on their human advice channel, the company’s investment side, New York Life Ventures is continually evaluating startups to uncover new tech that would enhance the organization’s capabilities and accelerate modernization.

We will do dozens of proofs of concept every quarter. And those lead to implementations very often, where we've got a real leg up on how we get a fast track of those capabilities coming into the company to enhance some aspect of what we do.

‒Alex Cook, Head of Strategic Capabilities, New York Life

An example of a start-up that provides new capability and advances New York’s Life’s mission is, Empathy. This solution is focused on supporting families in their most difficult moments‒at the time of the loss of a loved one. The experience is devastating for all the obvious reasons but is further complicated by the bureaucratic and financial issues that have to be dealt with, even as a family is grieving.

The Empathy platform enables connectivity, allows people to really understand what is happening and helps guide them through the process of managing everything that needs to be taken care of in that difficult time.

The Empathy solution is directly aligned with New York Life’s mission to provide peace of mind and protect families’ financial security‒it’s a tech solution that gives the organization an even greater ability to care for its beneficiaries.

Wrap up

What becomes clear in listening to Alex is how the unique blend of traditional values and a value proposition deeply connected to the company’s perennial mission, combined with very future-focused technology investments and implementations, are enabling the organization to accelerate its digital transformation. The changes are always aligned with the core mission. The different ‘change channels’ are all integrated. The end result is a 175-year-old company that is as nimble as last year’s start-ups, yet grounded in its long, proud tradition of protecting families. That’s the real value of digital transformation done right.

To find out about more about New York Life's strategies for successful digital transformation check out the podcast

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