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Business Agility is Key

Jane Possell, SVP & Chief Information Officer at CNA Insurance

Jane Possell, SVP & Chief Information Officer at CNA Insurance

Jane Possell, SVP & Chief Information Officer at CNA Insurance is a senior business advisor who aligns technology with business strategy to deliver corporate results. This is achieved by orchestrating the design and delivery of high yield engagements for a range of companies that improve operational effectiveness, organizational capability and competitive position. Applying a blend of strategy and tactics, she achieves measurable, sustainable results in highly competitive markets.

Following is the conversation that we had with her.

As the SVP & Chief Information Officer at CNA Insurance, what are some of your key roles and responsibilitiesthat you take while serving at CNA Insurance?

My formal responsibilities are all things technology for CNA - from Cyber Security, to help desk and laptops, to applications, to data enablement and centralized stores - in all of our markets around the world.One informal responsibility I’ve taken on is leading our journey as a company to achieve business agility.  It’s no longer enough for companies to decide exactly what to do and then take 18-24 months – or even a year – to deliver it.  The world and technology are moving too quickly.  What we, and other high performing companies,do is focus on the business outcomes we want to achieve and  take an agile approach to delivering these to the market.  This results in more business-responsive solutions and more engaged employees.Other privileges of my role thatI would highlightare my participation in CNA’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and my role as the executive sponsor for the Women Impacting Leadership employee resource group.  CNA is such an impressive company when it comes to D&I, and I’m privileged to continue my learning journey and contribute to our progress as an organization.

Technology is transforming the property and casualty insurance industry; helping innovative organizations improve service offerings and maximize profits. How is the resulting insurance paradigm shift changing the way that insurers, brokers and agents do business?

The conversation for Commercial carriers over the past several years has been all about using platforms to exchange opportunities, quotes and selling and servicing business.  Whether it’s through custom APIs or another method, I expect this automated exchange to continue to grow.  That means that carriers need to have a playbook for how they operate in this market so they can be flexible without wasting time and money on over-customization.  We anticipate more areas of the business  to leverage technology solutions, such as artificial intelligence for process automation well beyond the capabilities of simple RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to become ever more efficient and accurate when processing submissions which still come to most Commercial Insurance carriers in a variety of formats.

“Almost every company is leveraging Agile methods right now, but it’s a very small number who are actually operating with agility”

The next evolutionary frontier is likely to be the metaverse.  It reminds me of the rise of the internet in the late 90’s-early 2000’s.  We all knew there would be an impact, but no one knew exactly how or when.  While the internet took almost a decade to meaningfully impacting the way insurance companies did business, this one may be adopted faster.

Being quick to act on new opportunities, and offering a wide variety of products for different demographics in varying geographic locations, is one great way to spread your risk and maximize market capitalization. Your views on this?

Overall, it’s important to know what you want to doas a company and be good at it.  Placingemphasis on a few areas and managing a company to that end is much more complex than it sounds. CNA’s CEO,Dino Robusto, is exceptional at this.  The key for a CIO in a business like ours is to focus on innovating solutions and then re-using as it makes sense.  That means we can act quickly on new opportunities and handle the diversity of products, demographics and geographies.

What would be your piece of advice for your fellow peers and leaders?

Business agility is key.  Almost every company is leveraging agile methods right now, but it’s a very small number who are actually operating with agility. 

The challenge is when companies don’t change the way the business thinks about opportunities or solutions to problems in the market. Too many times the world moves on while a company is building what they believed would best address the opportunity 12 months ago.  A lot of time is too often spent talking about requirements and needs, instead of having developers put their hands on keyboards to prove out a hypothesis about the best way to address a problem? We are still on that journey at CNA and I’m so proud of our team’s progress.

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