Nationwide CIO Of 16 Years: ‘People Hate Change, But They Love Progress’ (Forbes)

Mike Keller has had one of the longest tenures as CIO of one company, as he has surpassed 16 years as CIO of Nationwide. The long tenure has had a number of significant advantages. It has helped him build rapport from the board to the executive team to his entire IT team to the company’s customers. It has also allowed him to play an influential role in the technology and business communities in Columbus, Ohio, where Nationwide is headquartered. He also makes the point that the transformational programs he has led have taken longer than the average tenure of CIOs in some cases. Having the long-term view in mind has been beneficial for Keller and for the company.

Keller has recently been a leader in Nationwide’s “One Company, One Brand” mission. As IT reaches across the entire enterprise, it is especially well suited to be the glue of this mission. Along the way, he has built an unusually strong leadership team, and a culture of collaboration inside and outside of IT.

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Peter High: Mike, can you describe the diverse array of experiences that led you to your current position as chief information officer at Nationwide, as well as your responsibilities in that role?

Nationwide CIO Mike Keller

Credit: Nationwide

Nationwide CIO Mike Keller

Mike Keller: I began my career at IBM where I worked in customer facing roles that focused on technology oriented consulting and systems integration. My final position at IBM was running a P&L in their global services area before joining Bank One as their chief technology officer for technology infrastructure. I joined Nationwide as CIO in 2001, during that time I have run Sourcing and Procurement, internet, and several other areas. We have moved toward a functional organizational alignment, so I run the IT operation which is an approximately $1.3 billion a year expense operation, with over 5,000 associates and over 3,000 contractors. It is a large-scale operation in traditional areas like application development, application maintenance, infrastructure, and operations.

High: What are some of the items on your current strategic roadmap?

Keller: Our core mission remains stable. We are an insurance and financial services organization dedicated to helping protect consumers and businesses, empowering them to build a secure financial future. However, several years ago when we considered what we want Nationwide to look like in 2020 and beyond, we decided to make several fundamental changes as part of our “One Company, One Brand” strategy. Nationwide grew, in part, through acquisitions, and in many instances left those companies, their brands, and their products intact with a fair degree of independence and autonomy. The One Company, One Brand strategy involves not only a considerable amount of work at the superficial or branding level such as building signage, updating websites, and redesigning printing outputs, but also includes significant strategic initiatives. These more substantial changes are part of what we call Tier 1 Business Transformation Programs that are designed to both bring us together as one company and to simplify products, processes, and technologies.

High: What is IT’s role in the strategic business transformation?  Is technology seen as the glue that holds together a One Company, One Brand mentality and mission?

Keller:  Around 2007, when we started making large bets on business transformation we recognized that there was a technology component to most of the changes. As a result of this we created a Business Transformation and Technology Committee on the board of directors to help prioritize and oversee our large-scale technology investments, and we created a committee within the management team made up of the unit heads of Marketing, Finance, and IT to set the priorities and funding and oversee the delivery of our large transformational programs. With the transformational programs, we are simplifying and modernizing the business and basically redoing our core systems at the same time. For instance, prior to the One Company, One Brand initiative, we went to market under four different brands, Nationwide Insurance, Harleysville Insurance, Allied insurance, and Titan Insurance. Not only did each of those companies go to market through different distribution channels, which meant exclusive agents, independent agents, and a direct operation, each company had their own products with various legal constructs, coverage, and coverage limitations. With the One Company, One Brand strategy we will have a single suite of products with the same legal, underwriting, and pricing constructs. They will all be branded Nationwide and have omnichannel capabilities supporting exclusive agents, independent agents, direct phone, and direct internet.

The One Company initiative is a large-scale change affecting almost every part of our business. We spend over $500 million per year for an extended number of years to simplify, modernize, and reinvent almost all of our core businesses by overhauling our products, business processes, and technology. These steps will improve efficiency, help us to deliver a better customer experience, and provide us with speed and agility in areas like IT.

Source: SANS ISC SecNewsFeed @ May 1, 2017 at 09:09AM