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Mutual of Omaha Makes Change a Feature, not a Bug in Their Digital Life Insurance Transformation

Why is digital technology transformation not enough?

Modernizing or upgrading technology alone is not enough to digitally transform a company. You can’t realize the full benefits of modernizing your IT environment if you continue to apply legacy thinking to the processes around them.

Most digital transformations are born out of a realization that aging IT systems are increasingly unable to deliver on evolving business needs.

For example, in a recent Life Accelerated podcast, Brian Poppe, SVP of Technology Modernization at Mutual of Omaha described how the company is focused on working through critical questions that he calls the ‘Big Rocks’. Things like,

How do we better communicate with our customers, manage their preferences, think about them as a single entity, rather than multiple policy holders. How do we make our distributors’ lives easier? And how do we better manage the distributors themselves? From a commission standpoint; from a licensing and appointment standpoint? Those are super important to us and how we reach the customers.

In order to address these ‘Big Rocks” Mutual of Omaha is modernizing legacy policy administration systems and prioritizing integrations with other components throughout the digital insurance platform.

This technology modernization is important. But it’s only half the transformation story.

The downside to legacy approaches and thinking

What Brian highlights is that technology changes have to drive an equivalent change in mindset. It’s no use modernizing software and then continuing to plan and implement according to the restrictions set by the limited capabilities of the old software.

Mutual of Omaha, for example, has rethought its approach to transformation projects themselves.

Like most insurers, their traditional approach to implementing a new digital solution was to form a project team and begin planning by building a monolithic requirements document that governed the entire initiative. The downside to that way of working was that any change to the requirements at any point before delivery would inevitably create delays and increase costs.

As Mutual of Omaha engages in its digital transformation, they are implementing a new model. Brian describes it as, “An agile way of working, but also an agile way of thinking.” Rather than putting a huge effort into creating an exhaustive requirements document at the outset, the new approach involves jump-starting projects by more quickly deciding on the likeliest path to success. Then they begin to work in that direction, with the idea that the plan will change over time as circumstances evolve.

How is Mutual of Omaha turning change into a feature, rather than a bug?

For Mutual of Omaha, implementing this new approach means designing the architecture of the technology so that it is API connected, so that it has plug and play capabilities that enable internal teams to easily update components without having to completely redefine the whole process.

If, for instance, they need to change something simple like the logo on a policy output the architecture is structured so that they can just swap in the new logo, and it will appear on all policies. Whereas even a couple of years ago that would have required going into each policy administration system and making individual changes.

And that’s the difference between legacy and transformed thinking and processes in digital transformation. In the old way of thinking and working, even simple changes could disrupt an entire process or project. A bug.

Now, change is an easy to implement improvement. Definitely a feature.

How is Mutual Omaha realizing the full potential of their digital transformation?

Going forward, Mutual of Omaha’s IT department is working on structuring teams and separating capabilities so that change can occur more easily and efficiently across the board‒without ‘blowing up’ initiatives or operations.

They have already made these advances on the next gen insurance platform with a couple of products. And they continue to apply these strategies to the remaining product shelf and business units.

We’re trying to make our lives easier down the line and make IT more flexible in how we interact with customers, how they interact with us.

Brian Poppe, SVP of Technology Modernization, Mutual of Omaha

At the end of the day, integrated digital technologies enabling streamlined and more flexible processes make the insurer far more capable of quick and effective change. Innovation accelerates. They achieve true digital transformation throughout the organization.

To find out about the ‘Five Big Rocks’ Mutual of Omaha is working on check out the podcast

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