5 Questions: CNA CIO Jane Possell
Digital Insurance: You joined CNA about a year ago. What has been your major priority?
Jane Possell, CNA: We have a couple things we’ve been trying to work on improving. We have been working in a traditional waterfall model at CNA. The team had made progress in using Agile practices in the waterfall model, but in order to be fully Agile, we knew we had to increase our automation. Test automation becomes a critical factor. We have [technology] that runs the gamut from things that were built in the 1970s to, effectively, yesterday. Because of our relationship with Google we have some really leading edge things. We really want to speed up the way we deliver, we need to have stability and strong quality.
Digital Insurance: So CNA selected Avo Automation. How did that deal come together?
Jane Possell, CNA: We were introduced to them through our relationship with SLK. We did go through a selection process and it wasn’t automation for automations sake, it wasn’t about counting scripts or about automating “X” amount of your test bed. With Avo you can start with the process discovery and very quickly get to script automation. In the spaces we have Avo, we have seen marked increases in our delivery time. Testing cycles that were as long as two to three months were now down to four to six weeks.
Digital Insurance: Are you using it across the company?
Jane Possell, CNA: We’ve seen Avo be a real asset to our ability to get that speed to market, even in places where we aren’t fully Agile yet. We need to shorten delivery times even in waterfall. I’ve seen mistakes made in other orgs in trying to push everything to true agile all the time.
Digital Insurance: What’s CNA’s relationship with Google that you alluded to?
Jane Possell, CNA: CNA selected, about a year and a half ago, Google Cloud as our primary platform. They’re working with us on a number of innovation projects that unfortunately I can’t get into. But I will say the benefit of having Google work with us is that we can take advantage of the cloud in real time.
Digital Insurance: How does all this come together to comprise CNA’s innovation strategy?
Jane Possell, CNA: I’m not one that believes in innovation on the edge, incubators, that kind of thing. I don’t think it drives differentiated innovation. You have to develop a culture. That’s why I love Agile: The people that are best equipped to innovate are the ones that are part of the standard delivery of any item. That said it’s important to have the right partners. We’re part of a couple insurtech forums, and right now most of our innovation work has been focused with Google.