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InsurTech Ohio Spotlight with Casey Jordan

Casey Jordan is the Vice President of Application Services at Encova Insurance, a super-regional carrier providing commercial, auto, home and life insurance. Casey was interviewed by Andrew Daniels, Founder and Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio.



Casey, how do legacy systems get in the way of innovation?


“They can be a distraction. It's common for digital transformations or any new innovation to ignore legacy systems for many reasons. They may want to move fast but not bring in the bad habits of the legacy past. Eventually, as you get to the other side of a digital transformation, you have to look back and manage the legacy footprint.


The longer you wait to address it, the more costly it gets. There's more cyber risk, operational risk and cost. I would rather use those dollars for more innovation and transformation than more legacy. Legacy is a distraction, and it keeps you from being able to focus your entire team on the future.”


How do you avoid building tactical solutions versus taking on the larger effort of shifting to a modern platform?


“Instead of it being a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, it’s actually a ‘when’. It's more like moving to a large modern platform or decommissioning legacy; it's still a business decision. You want to present the returns on both and let the business and IT work together to decide when. Then you start sequencing the work. Having a strategic roadmap from both business and IT that are aligned helps with that conversation.


As these decisions need to be made, you look at your roadmaps and see if it makes sense. When you continue to evolve, watch your roadmap and adjust as new items come up. It's the discipline of having a roadmap, agreeing to it and knowing what we're going to do in the next two to three years. I say all of that, but in the real world, you still have to stay agile. You still know that opportunities may arise, and you have to stay engaged with your business.


People may say, ‘We know we agreed to all this, but here's a great thing. We found a business case. It's a new innovative product, and we think we can implement it in 30 days. We think we can get a win.’ So, even with the roadmaps, the win and sequencing, you stay agile. You continue that conversation with the business, so when something does come up, it's communicated and everyone's aligned, which is key. They understand the impact to them. There's a level of agility that all organizations need to have but also have discipline and a roadmap to know where you're going.”


How do you ensure that a new, modern platform doesn't turn into your new legacy system?


“For organizations like Encova, it’s something you always have to think about. You need to ask yourself: What does it take to stay modern? It could be as simple as being on a new cloud product and having the discipline of taking regular updates throughout the year. Or, it could be a huge effort of having to replatform the entire system on the cloud and re-architect everything.


After you ask yourself that question, go back to your roadmap and make sure that’s included. When you're creating roadmaps and planning, it's easy for the business to get together and say, ‘Here's what I want to do for the next two years.’ Right after they come out of a digital transformation, they have a two-year plan. You need a senior IT member to ensure it’s feasible and plan for when it will happen. You can't surprise your business as this could result in a firestorm. Communication and realistic expectations are key.


I've heard the term ‘digital journey’ used rather than ‘digital transformation’. I like that. Transformation has the idea of having an end, but a journey really never stops. If you have that mindset of a digital journey, it shows the continuous conversation of where you are currently and where you’re going in the future. It needs to evolve for the life of the business. As you're on this journey, you have to keep it modern, or you're going to fall back into old habits.”


What other advice do you have for those who are going through a digital transformation?


“There's no shortage of advice out there on the internet and in publications. The simplest advice I could give is that digital transformations involve implementing technology and platforms. Those are just tools for us and our organization to use; they do not guarantee success. They will not drive your business.


As you're executing a transformation, make sure that you're measuring the success of the transformation and when it should be complete. The implementation of a platform itself can't be the success. Are you trying to reduce cyber risk? Are you trying to improve customer service? Are you trying to gain new business? Make sure you have some clear, measurable goals as a part of your transformation, and always keep an eye on them. That keeps the guardrails on for what you adopt as part of that digital transformation.”




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