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Markerstudy Group CIO Dan Fiehn explains how he deals with the pace of technology innovation while battling the business change backlog

Thomas Macaulay | Oct. 20, 2017
Car insurance specialist has developed an award-winning digital product as part of ambitious transformation initiative.

Markerstudy Group CIO Dan Fiehn is leading an ambitious digital transformation at the 16-year-old motor insurance company. The organisation has expanded aggressively in recent years through a series of acquisitions that led the company to grow from 400 employees to 4,000 in under five years. The acquisitions left them with a complex technology estate that was restricting innovation.

Their IT issues are common in the sector. According to Gartner, roughly 60% of insurance systems were implemented on or before 2009, of which 30% were implemented before 1999.

"It's little wonder that on average 60% or 70% of our IT budgets are spent on keeping the lights on," Fiehn explained at the IoT Smart Summit in London.

Automation is helping Fiehn turn his Markerstudy into a digital leader in the sector.

 

Data-driven

The CIO is pushing data-driven practices throughout the organisation and has developed a set of smart devices. It's still a struggle to keep up with the rate of change.

"We live in truly exciting times," says Fiehn, a member of the 2017 CIO 100 who joined Markerstudy in 2011.

"Technology is changing financial services and it's hardly started. Things like automation, robotics, the Internet of Things, blockchain, 3D printing and machine learning are all having a profound effect on the market, our people, and will introduce unprecedented levels of operational efficiency."

He was reminded of these changes when he recently came home to find his six-year-old child talking to someone in the back room. It was Siri. His daughter worked out it could give her answers to her maths homework.

Typing information into a search bar will soon seem ridiculous to his daughter, let alone her father's former need to go to the library for information.

The time it takes different technologies to attract 50 million customers provides a vivid illustration of the growing rate of change. It was 75 years before the telephone reached the milestone, but fewer than four for Facebook. More recently, Pokémon Go got there just 19 days. In one weekend alone the AR game attracted 100 million new customers.

 

Customer experience and social media

Consumers now expect exceptional customer experience and ubiquitous connectivity.

"We've become obsessed with connected devices," says Fiehn, whose own conduct serves as evidence. "Even at the most bizarre of times, digital has changed my behaviour."

After pulling himself out of the water following the swim leg of an Iron Man triathlon, the first thing he did was instinctively check his watch.

Every week he pushes himself on his bike to climb up a hill and up the leaderboard of Strava, a social network for budding athletes.

"The interesting dynamic here is that I'm generating the data, and Strava is selling it back to me, because I believe they can give me more insight and an edge that I otherwise wouldn't get," he says.

 

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