In this episode of Beyond Digital, we’re joined by DMI’s Andrew Brockett and guest John Heveran.
John is the Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Global Risk Solutions for Liberty Mutual Insurance.
Founded in 1912, Liberty Mutual now operates in 29 countries around the world with over 45,000 employees. With an interdisciplinary background and a dual-reporting position, John brings articulate insight into the role of tech in an industry of constant change.
Andy has been with DMI for over 11 years and has worn many hats. At one time, Andy led DMI’s CRM Practice and helped grow it into one of the premier Microsoft Dynamics practices in the Midwest. He has since become one of DMI’s most valuable creative thinkers and has personally helped several of our key clients generate new business ideas and revenue streams.
Today we’ll hear from John about the transformative role of technology in the insurance industry—from disruptors to best practices—in past, present and future tense. Topics include cloud computing, design process, staying agile, AI and machine learning, IoT, and more.
“JOURNALISM AT ITS CORE IS ABOUT LISTENING…AND THERE ARE A LOT OF PARALLELS IN TECHNOLOGY.” – 3:38
John’s journey into technology can be traced back to his college years, where he majored in journalism and technical communication. After graduating from the University of Florida, he went into banking and became interested in technology. He knew he wanted to find a way to mesh business and tech and eventually landed a position in the technology department at a chemical company. Since then, he has stuck with the idea of how to solve business problems with technology.
WHEN DATA MET DESKTOP – 6:15
In the mid 90s, there was still a bifurcation between desktop computing and the mainframe space. John’s company implemented an ERP system managing all business aspects of chemical manufacturing. John recalls much focus at that time around the question of how to integrate monolithic system data into the desktop environment.
John explains how the Macintosh computer really owned the market as soon as it was released. Its software allowed for high quality graphics, word processing and printing. This marked the start of the consumerization of technology that empowered users to control their own technological destiny.
THE POWER OF LISTENING – 8:14
John reflects on the impact of his journalism background on his current business role. That journalism, at its core, is about listening. It’s about hearing what the frontline product users are really saying. The importance of communicating well and asking the right questions, and attacking problems from a number of angles. It’s about being inherently curious about the problem that needs to be solved and embracing that from the customer’s point of view.
YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE IN THE CLOUD (WITH OR WITHOUT YOU) – 13:54
John identifies the biggest disruptor faced today as cloud computing. He argues the safety and security of a truly public cloud, where many companies hesitate to adopt and may soon find themselves facing a new wave of competition–who are able to massively reduce their startup and scaling efforts as the cloud removes barriers to entry.
“This is a fascinating time to be in technology. If you have a good idea, the passion and gumption to teach yourself the technology…literally, you can do everything yourself…and with a credit card, you can get access to the world’s leading computing capabilities” such as AWS (a DMI select consulting partner).
TRUE PRODUCT MANAGEMENT – 17:38
John addresses the shift in product innovation and delivery within Liberty Mutual and how it’s actually a shift in mindset, blurring the lines between teams to approach things from all angles. Liberty has begun to focus on the idea of “true product management” that’s agile, iterative, and owns every piece of the customer value chain. “It’s about being inherently curious about what the work is that needs to get done, or the problem that needs to be solved, and really embracing that from the customer’s point of view instead of their own.”
John and Andy discuss Liberty’s current state of API-first architecture, embracing microservices and serverless technologies. John goes further to relay the cultural shift occurring throughout this transformation, where they view everything as a service. “It’s a different way of thinking, a different way of solving problems…it changes [our manager’s] expectations of themselves and what’s possible.”
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – 19:57
John speaks to diversity and inclusion in and outside of his company. He gives a look into the Boston Partners in Education, a non-profit organization which John has served on the board for over five years. It provides services and mentorships to students and staff within the Boston Public School system. Alongside the foundation, Liberty is committed to the communities in which they operate.
“WE’RE INHERENTLY A PREDICTION-BASED COMPANY AND INDUSTRY. AI AND MACHINE LEARNING ARE NOTHING MORE THAN MACHINE-DRIVEN PREDICTIONS.” – 21:53
Finally, John shares his insights about the near future of technology including AI and machine learning, capturing and leveraging more data, leveraging IoT, visual systems as a specialized form of AI, mobility, and the public cloud. In closing, he offers wisdom for future generations: “Learn how to learn…and keep learning. Be curious, be empathetic, and listen.”