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The digital disruption in insurance: How the role of a CIO has changed

6 minutes
The digital disruption in Insurance is changing the role of the CIO. The traditional role of a CIO was to keep the lights on and maintain legacy systems; today, they are responsible for much more than that - they are also responsible for digital transformation and digital customer experience. 


The evolving CIO duties and skills

Digital disruption in Insurance changed the role of the CIO by requiring them to be leaders rather than just guardians of technology infrastructure and legacy systems. 


Digital disruption in Insurance has created a new breed of digital CIO - a  technology leader who can think differently to break out of their traditional role and go where the business needs them - as part of a digital team.  CIOs today excel at digital transformation skills (big data analytics, digital marketing techniques, etc.) as well as have extensive knowledge about new technologies with potential business applications that are already disrupting traditional business models.


Let's have a deeper look into changing duties and responsibilities of an insurance CIO.


Navigating the digital disruption in Insurance

Technology is the foundation for digital disruption in Insurance and CIOs' direct responsibility. 


They lead their companies' digital strategies, including:


- upgrading legacy tech;

-building new applications and digital journeys;

- developing mobile apps;

- investing in data analytics software;

- using digital marketing channels to reach customers;

-driving digital transformation initiatives.

- building strong internal relationships with other members of the executive team;

- partnering with chief revenue officers on digital engagement strategies for both existing customers and prospective ones;


Today, CIOs must look towards the future: from IoT to blockchain and AI to anticipate where business needs meet technology in the next decade.


The changing role places new demands on CIO skills: most importantly, it requires them to think outside ''the box'' regarding what can actually make money in today's digital world. In fact, insurance executives now believe that success in digital will be the key differentiator that determines which companies survive.


From a focus on technology to focusing on business outcomes

The evolving CIO duties and skills are changing because digital is transforming every industry, including Insurance. The Digital Disruption brings with it new opportunities for insurers but only if they move fast enough. To succeed in this rapidly evolving digital world, you need to be proactive, not reactive: going after potential customers before your competitors do instead of playing catch up when there is already stiff competition. 


If done right, digital transformation will drive growth across all aspects of your company from sales through service delivery, creating an entirely different experience for both existing and future.


In the digital age, CIOs must embrace new technologies and have a solid understanding of how their company can use digital tools and technologies to transform its business strategy. They also need to be knowledgeable about digital marketing tactics that will grow their customer base and improve retention rates in an increasingly competitive market.


It is important for CIOs to understand that digital disruption in Insurance will never be complete. They need to look beyond the traditional business process management systems, data storage, or even cloud computing requirements to digital business transformation and future-proof strategy.


Customer-centric CIOs

To navigate through all the disruptions happening in this industry and find ways to use them as opportunities rather than threats, CIOs must think in terms of business outcomes, not pure technology. They need to be more than digital leaders; they must also become digital transformation agents.


Today, CIOs need to think about customer experience and user experience and think of ways to acquire and retain digital customers. They also need to have an understanding of digital business models and how they can be applied within their organization.


CIOs are now responsible for digital strategy and digital transformation, yet they still need to focus on customer-facing aspects of their business. They should be able to creatively apply digital disruption in Insurance in order to create win/win scenarios where the technology can improve processes while also making customers happier with a better experience (and hopefully boost customer lifetime value and loyalty).


They are also required to understand the impact of digital on their culture - which is a huge change from being just responsible for technology infrastructure and legacy systems maintenance.


In order to do this, CIOs will often need a solid understanding of digital marketing techniques such as A/B testing, digital analytics for real-time decision making, big data Analytics (data science), digital customer experience management, and digital platforms for external engagement.


The digital transformation digital CIO role is also changing the way that CIOs are being recruited. It used to be enough for a person to have traditional IT skills and experience, but today digital disruption in Insurance requires people with digital marketing knowledge as well; this means they need to understand how customers want to engage with brands.


Adapting to change

The digital disruption in Insurance is changing the way CIOs spend their days; they need to be able to see how this change can impact what has always been a complex web of risk management, compliance, and regulations. 


They also need to keep an eye on new technologies that are already disrupting traditional business models in order to be able to quickly adapt and implement digital transformation strategies.


Digital disruption will continue as long as CIOs keep finding ways to use technology for business growth rather than maintain the status quo. The digital disruption in Insurance is changing how they lead their teams, what skills are required of them, and even who can do these jobs. CIOs need to embrace digital transformation, not fear it.


The digital disruption in Insurance has changed how companies approach technology by forcing CIOs into leadership roles instead of keeping their focus on day-to-day IT operations. It also requires them to have knowledge about new technologies with potential business applications and digital transformation skills. CIOs also need to keep an eye on new technologies that are already disrupting traditional business models so they can quickly adapt and implement digital initiatives with customer focus in mind.

Digital disruption will continue as long as companies keep finding ways to use technology for business growth rather than maintain the status quo, which requires innovative thinking, new technologies that are already disrupting the traditional business models.


CIOs should be able to navigate through all the disruptions happening in this industry so they can quickly adapt and implement digital initiatives.


Digital transformation is happening everywhere, not just in the insurance industry. It's changing almost every business model and even roles since it expands what was once considered "responsibilities" of IT into areas that either didn't exist before or were considered to be outside of the purview of technology leaders.

Vera Smirnoff

Vera Smirnoff is the demand generation manager at EasySend. She covers digital transformation in insurance and banking and the latest trends in InsurTech and digital customer experience.