Connecting business needs with technology solutions can be a complex dynamic for any business.
For many companies, tech adds functionality to the systems supporting various stakeholders. Leveling up requires exploring customer wants, then layering on new technology solutions to meet those emerging and evolving needs.
Beyond that, successful integration requires bringing together the right leadership and teams to build a deeper understanding of what’s needed, where you’re collectively going, and how to best achieve getting there. We recently sat down with Farres Moidu, Senior Director of Software Engineering at Central Insurance, to explore what that looks like for Central.
The Key to Successfully Connecting Business and Technology
In his experience integrating business needs and technology, Moidu emphasizes the importance of weighing the opportunity cost against how the team plans to deploy their time and resources.
“Time can be more costly than dollars, making it critical to consider how best to utilize a limited set of engineering cycles. What are you saying ‘no’ to when you say ‘yes’ to something else. Options range from developing a wide solution to something that doubles down on a single part of the experience or somewhere in between.”
Although making that call can be complicated, he insists the most critical step for any business is forecasting what the customer needs, whether you can deliver on what you promise to build, and how to respond if you’re ultimately wrong about either of these components.
“You can’t come at this kind of innovation solely through the tech or experience lens; it’s an interwoven relationship. We’re collectively tasked with figuring out where to place our bets.”
As a billion-dollar insurance carrier serving policyholders for almost 150 years, there are countless exciting opportunities to elevate Central’s products and improve the customer experience.
Moidu identifies a few key stakeholders involved in putting it all together:
- Underwriters, whose job is to consider the amount of risk an insurance carrier is willing to take on
- Regional vice presidents tasked with working with our agent partners
- The Claims team, which focuses on delivering on our promise to policyholders
- Internal teams ranging from Data, Compliance, Audit
Moidu emphasizes that each stakeholder group has its specific goals and needs. Below, we dive into a few examples of how Moidu and his team have successfully implemented tech solutions to meet the specific business needs of these very different stakeholder groups.
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A Focus On Tech Solutions in Claims Handling Processes
One of Central’s engineering teams works in support of the Claims function and has been intently focused on helping streamline their processes. For instance, recently the engineering team was able to guide Claims in successfully is integrating internal systems with a new roadside assistance vendor. This was a decision made in an ongoing effort to meet our high customer service standards.
“We are building a world-class Claims organization, and customer experience is paramount. The team works incredibly hard to understand our policyholders’ experience, and, through feedback loops, identified a source of policyholder frustration. What happened next is that the Claims team looked across the market sourced a partner they believe can best address those pain points. From there, it was just a matter of making the technology work. The engineering and Claims team partnered closely to integrate this new partner and maintain a premier Claims experience.”
The Technical Development of Central’s “Businessowners Policy”
The Business Owners Policy (BOP) is another tool that Moidu and his team are focused on developing after agent feedback indicated a gap between the market and Central’s product offering.
“Collectively, our insurance & digital product teams began considering what we would want our BOP experience to look like,” he explains. “At first we considered automating everything, which would require a significant time investment and push the launch far into the future. The second option was to pick a narrower set of automation which still meets our business goal of ease-of-doing-business. We picked the second option.”
The Importance of a Collaborative Approach
As Moidu sees it, the strategic application of tech solutions to help with existing business needs must be viewed as the responsibility of all the different sides of an organization. He emphasizes the need for multi-disciplinary teams to come together in a spirit of collaboration to do it right.
At Central, for instance, the digital product organization (DPO) works closely with the insurance product organization (IPO). Where IPO focuses on the different ways the organization can build and sell insurance, the DPO specializes in the approach the organization can take to building that technology or crafting the desired experiences.
“On the IPO side, there are many specific financial and legal details to consider. They work with finance, actuarial, underwriting, claims, and others on everything from how we price, how much risk we’re willing, how we market and sell, etc.,” Moidu explains. “On the other hand, DPO focuses on the digital experience that delivers on these needs.”
The Impact of DPO and IPO Collaboration on the Development of BOP at Central
When it came to developing the BOP, Moidu recalls that it was the Sales & IPO team which recognized the gap in Central’s portfolio.
“There was a need in the market, and we had an opportunity to develop a product to meet it,” he says.
As a result, the IPO started a dialogue with the DPO about what the product should be, what features it should include, and what the overall user experience should look like. Working with the engineering team, the group identified a range of options on what the first launch will look like, and what becomes a fast-follow.
Moidu believes that integrating engineering in these conversations is most effective and most well-received when the engineering team provides options from which the product team chooses.
Advice for Companies Embarking on Connecting Business Needs with Tech Solutions
With years of experience bridging the gap between the needs of an organization and the engineers who can make them a reality, we asked Moidu to offer a few key takeaways to help organizations get started on this process. Here’s what he had to say:
1. Don’t operate in a silo. “Tech and business needs shouldn’t live and operate separately. It’s our job to make sure we build the right solutions for specific problems in the marketplace. Product and research teams help us do that by accurately assessing the problem or opportunity, so we don’t make giant and inaccurate investments upfront.”
2. Get executive sponsorship early and often. “For product and engineering to be successful, executive sponsorship is vital. To fully support it, leaders must understand why this approach matters and how it will be deployed. Central’s CEO and President drove many of the initial conversations about where and how tech would fit into our company, and what other leaders should expect. He also educated himself by looking at what our peers and leaders in other industries were doing, both of which have been extremely important and helpful as we’ve undergone such large-scale changes.”
3. Don’t underestimate the power of your people. “People are a huge part of the equation. Ensure you have the right leaders and teams at all levels. Look for people willing to adapt how they work. There’s a lot of required overlap, negotiation, and partnership when connecting business needs with tech options. You want your team members to bring different perspectives, with common shared values. If that is in place, everyone moves forward together.”
Opportunities to Join Central’s Tech-Focused Future
A core part of Central’s IT success depends on hiring the right people and assembling the right teams. The company’s IT culture is rooted in the collaborative spirit of a startup, backed by 150 years of investment in innovation and proven success. Leadership values what IT brings to the organization, and goes all in on the tech, teams, and talent to make it happen.
Depth of relationships and connections has always set Central apart from other insurance companies. IT development shouldn’t happen in a vacuum or silo. As our teams work together to drive tech and innovation at Central, we’re growing with excitement and intention. We recognize the leadership potential in everyone, and we strive to unlock it in those who want to make an impact. Central is a perfect size if you want to build, create, innovate, and take ownership of what you do. Our size allows us to be nimble and adaptable, and it provides meaningful opportunities to explore and grow by providing opportunities you’re not likely to find at massive insurance companies.
If you’re looking for a job where someone will tell you what to do and how to do it, Central probably isn’t the place for you. But if you feel energized by the opportunity to take something from inspiration to ideation to implementation, explore current job opportunities here.