Technology Infusion Making Us Smarter and Quicker

By Jeff Huebner, Chief Risk Officer, CSAA Insurance Group

Jeff Huebner, Chief Risk Officer, CSAA Insurance Group

How can technology be used to mitigate rising Risk Management costs?

Managing risk is a very deliberate, measured discipline, and it operates this way for a number of important and obvious reasons. However, some of the new technologies that we’ve seen emerge recently have given us good reason to re-evaluate some of the traditional approaches to risk, and consider new perspectives that may help offset some typical risk-related expenses. We’re now able to group risk pool datasets using a number of new tools, which can help us to predict risk faster and more accurately than ever before. Naturally, this can help lower costs. Given the current state and momentum of technology, the risk industry is evolving faster than ever, making it a really exciting time to be in Risk Management.

Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

Technology offers incredible riches at the moment and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. Managing risk means getting ample data, and technology is delivering data faster than ever. Drones offer incredible potential to improve risk while lowering cost and improving safety. Yes, it’s about understanding and managing our exposure, and it’s also about safeguarding the health of the claims adjuster who has to climb up on a steep roof. If there is a way we can help that person perform their job more precisely and efficiently, while eliminating the chance that they fall off a ladder, that’s pretty appealing. Self-driving cars are also high on the list. While I don’t know that’s it’s possible to entirely eliminate human error on the roadways, reducing it significantly sounds like a big step in the right direction. Connected home and the Internet of Things; the list goes on and on and we learn about even more amazing developments every day.

"Speed and caution are a tricky combo but, to use a racing metaphor, we are familiar with the car and the track and certainly have plenty of experience"

We are all dealing with technology every day. How does technology drive your life?

Everyone in risk is tuned in to the industry 24/7 and I’m certainly no exception. I’m also old enough to know what life was like before we could instantly communicate with each other. Now is better. We carry around these incredible micro-supercomputers that not only allow us to stay connected but enable us to look up just about anything at any time, and challenge ourselves to get smarter and smarter. It’s truly amazing. And, I still reserve the right to complain about it from time-to-time.

What set of skills do you think is required for technology leaders to be successful in the new enterprise landscape?

From my perspective, it’s increasingly obvious that the new era of risk will be directed by those who embrace innovation. The successful risk managers of tomorrow will need to combine traditional risk management skills with technical knowledge, as well as a willingness to be considerate of—and in many cases, quickly adapt to disruptive business models. Naturally, leadership competencies will always be in high demand: strategic vision, a focus on the customer, the ability to build and engage talented teams, an understanding of one’s business, a results orientation, and teamwork and collaboration.

How has your IT operating model changed during the last five years?

This is an exciting time for CSAA Insurance Group, as we have spent the last six years transforming our people, processes and technology to put in place a future-state, customer-centric platform. This is about being responsive to the evolving needs of the customer—creating efficiencies, focusing on continuous improvement, and safeguarding the future of the company. We’re more than 100 years old, so it’s safe to say we have solid track record. But we didn’t make it to 100 and beyond by ignoring new opportunities and new horizons. We’ve always been focused on the future to make sure we are providing for our customers, who are the entire reason the company exists. It’s what has always driven our success and will always continue to.

What challenges do CROs face in addressing risk concerns of their organization?

Approaching risk requires a very careful and calculated approach—that’s always been the case and it’s never going to change, nor should it. Agile and outcomes-based models are not necessarily at odds with risk. In fact, they can help identify newer and perhaps even safer ways to control it. The challenge is to make sure we aren’t sacrificing our underlying Risk Management discipline in pursuit of some sleek-looking technology.

The marketplace is driven by customer demand and the internet has created a standard of instant access, results and satisfaction. Ensuring that we are keeping pace is challenging, but the real trick is moving ahead of the pack. Anything less means we are yesterday’s news. So it is imperative to move toward that expectation, while also balancing exposure. Speed and caution are a tricky combo but, to use a racing metaphor, we are familiar with the car and the track and certainly have plenty of experience. Even when the racing conditions change, we are well-equipped to brake, turn, accelerate and pass at exactly the right time, lap after lap.

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