The LV= group is 170 years old and can trace its history to its founding as a burial service in the late 1800s under the name Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society.
Today, with its lime green heart logo and funky name, LV= is better known for life and general insurance products. “One of the risks of being mutual is there is less pressure, so we create the pressure. The C-level here is all new, which balances against any inertia and we have all come from big transformational companies," according to CIO Richard Warner.
"We are not a growth-for-growth’s-sake agenda; we are looking for sustainable growth. We will be as big as we need to be as a company.”
With business growth, especially in the insurance world, comes an increase in staff and scale.
“You get more growth in the number of claims and the support you offer to a larger customer base,” Warner explains.
If your job can define you, that is certainly the case for Warner. His CIO department at LV= has the neat mission statement “Change, Innovation, Operations” and is responsible for not only technology, but also procurement and operational essentials like the very buildings LV= operates from.
“The function was formed when I came in. We wanted to create an identity that was broad and not just about IT. As a department we are tasked with providing the capabilities to enable growth. We saw the name change as an opportunity to refresh and rebrand,” he explains.
“We have done a lot of restructuring around what is the logical flow of activities and making the right teams.”
The team now consists of strategy, change delivery, solution delivery, service delivery, sourcing & facilities; information security, planning performance functions.
“Previously there was a lot of overlap in IT sourcing, so now we have an IT supplier management team,” he says of the leaner, more effective setup.
Once the department formed itself, Warner got the teams to create an internal video of a day in the life of the CIO department demonstrating all the services it enables at the organisation.
A second video showed a day in the life of LV= without a CIO department, essentially chaos. Reception to the two videos was good he says.
Warner’s department is divided across the firm’s two main sites and supports the 21 different sites LV= has across the country.
He has been recruiting heavily recently, and finds that the Bournemouth location has real recruitment benefits thanks to the town’s great work/life balance when compared to London, and Warner admits they make the most of that opportunity, but says it’s important the right people want to work for LV=, and not just those who want to be by the sun, sea and sand.
Returning to the transformation theme, Warner says: “We provide the infrastructure for change, we are making change happen.”
Warner adds that the new name has helped, especially with all important communications across the organisation.
“In the last year the level of dialogue and the volume of it has been really good and mutually supportive,” he explains.
“For me that communication is all about confidence and pride. If the support teams talk of them and the business that creates a customer/supplier relationship that is not good. The relationship needs to be peer-to-peer.”
Warner believes the need for a peer-to-peer relationship is essential for a business to succeed.
He is clearly passionate about technology in the sense of what technology can enable an organisation to achieve, but also because the pace of change keeps accelerating and it is technology that pushes that acceleration.
“In the world of the CIO, a lot of what we try to do is change,” he says.
“If you look across the business all units have some form of change agenda taking place and the CIO department’s role is to be mutually supportive to ensure there is a lot of trust and support going on. The trick is to make sure we carry each other along and talk a lot. “We are heavily dependent on our suppliers and know their motivations. We like to think we are more willing to be innovative and that is attractive for them. We want suppliers that want to work with us and I want more than my fare share of their minds; that is important to us.”
Warner only reveals that the IT budget is below the industry average for general insurance and that he is keeping a lid on costs. His team consists of 550 direct employees.
“Looking ahead, data analytics and the evolution of e-commerce using tools to analyse the customer journey will become a priority for me.
The CIO 100 panel were split on whether the naming of the department as CIO was "blame spreading" or a positive move. All agreed that Warner had stimulated the business, but that perhaps the technology transformation outcomes were yet to come and was another one to watch.
IT leader: Richard Warner, CIO.
In role since: January 2011.
IT management team and reporting structure: Strategy, Change Delivery, Solution Delivery, Service Delivery, Sourcing & Facilities; Information Security, Planning Performance functions.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Avaya, Azzurri, Guidewire, Atos, Microsoft.
Primary technology suppliers: Avaya, Azzurri, Guidewire, Atos, Microsoft.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Warner has created a Fast Track team that challenge business problems that are on the minds of the LV= C-suite.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: BYOD not really an issue.