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Digital transformation is table stakes when it comes to making progress and driving your company forward. It is important for CEOs to think of technology as a central part of an organization’s strategy. Making the technology strategy more front and center is best achieved by embracing, enabling and empowering the company’s CTO—and their team.

Today, organizations are more horizontal and less siloed as traditional leadership roles blur. CTOs are expanding their roles to build bridges between IT and different lines of business and ensuring that technology is a significant forethought to every initiative within their organization.

This broader CTO role should be a commonality at companies across all industries, including highly complex and strictly regulated industries like insurance, where it is absolutely critical to focus on digital transformation to achieve desired goals.

Here are some ways that insurance CEOs can create an innovative and collaborative culture that incorporates a CTO’s technology strategy into the broader business strategy to achieve better business outcomes.

Bringing technology vision to business strategy

We have seen the need for digital transformation increase drastically. Legacy infrastructure is being edged out, omnichannel is evolving rapidly and experiences are increasingly digitized.

As a result, there is a greater emphasis and reliance on technology throughout the insurance value chain—across products, distribution methods and service models. Customers demand experiences that are relevant to them through the channel that best fits their needs.

Communication and collaboration across different areas of the business are key to making customized experiences a reality for customers, and a CEO’s role is to motivate and guide various teams to work together as one to realize a clear set of technology priorities. This cross-area collaboration helps bridge the gap between company strategies and market demands.

For example, customers’ appetite for new types of insurance services and offerings challenges companies to bring innovative products to market faster. Technologies such as cloud and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model improve companies’ operational efficiency by providing the most up-to-date systems and functionality to help drive a company’s digital transformation agenda.

Having technology expertise directly involved in business strategy helps insurers create an organization that is well equipped for the future. The inherent value of technology leadership helps build agile business models and processes, which means less repetition, fewer errors and greater resilience. In addition, allocating resources to the right place at the right time is essential to creating a delightful and seamless user experience for customers and partners.

Creating more value through innovation and partnerships

As markets shift and customer expectations grow, companies must provide new solutions to address the evolving world around us. The Spotifys and Ubers of the world do this already by adding incremental value to their applications every day. The insurance industry should be no exception.

Incorporating the CTO’s technology vision into the business agenda allows an organization to diversify offerings and create more valuable services. CTOs are experts in pattern recognition and understand what it takes for technologies and applications to work within the confines of existing code. They are the champions of bringing a CEO’s innovation vision to life.

Ecosystem partnerships are also an important piece of the puzzle. One example of this is embedded insurance. Think about the times when you booked a flight and were asked about travel insurance—an example of using an ecosystem partner to deliver more value to customers. Partnerships provide additional features that improve the customer experience when purchasing a product or service, giving consumers more flexibility and coverage options when they need them.

Another example of delivering value is through digital customer service (DCS). Insurance customers are migrating to digital channels, and DCS allows insurers to meet them across different platforms with technology applications such as voice-to-text, artificial intelligence (AI), automated chatbots, in-app engagement and more. I previously wrote about DCS and its benefits. Customers who desire high-touch services can open a claim via their carrier’s website, get assisted with AI-enabled chatbots and engage a claim representative directly.

Reaching success through value and purpose

Ultimately, technology augments—but does not replace—the human element of every business. Since people remain crucial to constructing any business or customer experience strategy, a supportive and values-driven organizational culture is essential to success.

CEOs need to set the stage and help build a culture that prioritizes value and purpose. Welcoming different functions of the business to have a seat at the table and encouraging employees to engage with partners and customers help the company develop more innovative solutions.

With these values and purpose in mind, technologists such as CTOs should focus on building empowered teams that adapt to ongoing changes and disruptions and can build new solutions quickly to address these issues.

The digital transformation journey requires new levels of collaboration and engagement. IT has moved to the front line of business to support operations in becoming more modern and efficient. This human-led technology approach will deliver more sustained outcomes and improve the user experience, building trust with both customers and partners.

The key to your competitive edge

To maintain a competitive edge in the insurance market, businesses must embrace and encourage the vision of their technology leadership. The most successful companies will be the ones that promote cross-functional teamwork and allow the voices of different teams to be fully heard.