Kevin Murray's digital transformation of Axa has taken customer personalisation to a new level that will crank up cross-selling and retention rates and is projected to push revenue up by 20%+. The implementation of master data management (MDM) and data analytics will improve products, underwriting and customer service by leveraging structured and unstructured data.

When did you start your current role?
October 2011.

What is your reporting line?
Group CEO.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Yes – or more.

Are you a member of the board of directors?
Yes.

What other executive boards do you sit on?
ATT and HP advisory boards, Axa Technology, Axa Business Solutions.

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No.

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
Business operations, procurement, digital, property, risk.

How many employees does your organisation have?
120,000.

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?
Yes.

How many users does your department supply services to?
10,000.

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Good relationships with all CEOs is key to staying close to their businesses. A firm understanding of all products, service and distribution is a must. Being part of all business strategy sessions and process is a must. Building an operations and technology organisation that ensures business-driven operations efficiency and technology is critical to success. The chief business architect and the chief technology architect are key positions.

Axa technology strategy and agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?
Yes.

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?
Yes.

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
I led a master data management (MDM) and data analytics tools implementation for business use to improve products, underwriting, customer service (both call centre and digital), and more efficient use of distribution channels, leveraging both structured and unstructured data. In addition, I implemented rules-based engines that leverage this data within business operations and as a result reduce the legacy system code and complexities that slow us down.

What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
Digital transformation is complete but will require continous improvement to remain competitive. Proofs of concept around MDM and data analytics are complete.  

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Digital personalisation will transform customer service levels to new required levels that will enhance cross-sell and retention rates, which can be worth another 20-30% in additional revenues. It will also support personalised product underwriting to an individual, usage-based products for auto (telematics), home (homeatics) and healthcare products. Higher levels of customer service in our call centres will be enabled through enhanced single view of our customers across all product lines and drive transformation.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
A leadership style that promotes teamwork, collaboration and trust is a must. My leadership style aims to build the organisation and attract and retain talented individuals who work well as a team and are able to work well with the business, execute and deliver the products and the enabling technologies described above.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
Master data management, data analytics, product, distribution and service-based rules engines. Simplification of complex legacy systems and data systems. Biometrics. Digital mobile app technologies, and cloud to reduce infrastructure costs and improve flexibility and speed to market.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?
Yes.

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
To prepare for the power of data analytics through better organisation of our data via MDM, in particular virtualised data indexing instead of traditional data warehouses. Once organised, data analytics tools can be deployed and used by business units more easily and effectively. And then passing this more organised data through rules engines both actively and passively will transform our business.  

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
All mobility apps must seamlessly interface into our traditional call centres. The customer experience may begin in the call centre and be followed up on a mobile app and vice versa. So traditional call centres and support operations must become one smooth workflow.

Social media data must be included in the 'golden' accurate single view of the customer record and efficiently maintained by MDM. As potential and existing customers engage with us we must know what they are saying about us and our brand, both the good and the bad. Good social media data can promote cross-sell programmes and negative data can initiate retention contact with potential and existing customers through call centre outbound call events, email, social media tools, text, etc. So once again organising our data, leveraging this data and aligning with customer events are critical.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
I promote shadow IT or stealth IT as part of our culture, with boldness and risk taking around the business and technology solution and no worries about asking permission. I ask staff to "help me make a mistake today" in an effort to build into our culture that it's ok to be bold and sneaky and to make mistakes. If we don't make mistakes it's an indication that there is not the right level of innovation happening in the organisation.

BYOD is a part of this by allowing employees the flexibility to choose the technology tools and devices they wish to use. There are security issues with BYOD devices and I to try maintain a proper balance around security. We push this risk taking, innovation and a "let's make a mistake culture" together as an executive committee and this drives engagement at all levels of the organisation.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
SAP, Oracle, Nuance, IBM, Cisco, Cloudera, TCS, HP were all large technology deals completed in 2014.

Axa IT security and budget

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Yes.

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?
Yes.

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?
Yes.

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?
Yes.

What is the IT budget?
Approximately $200m.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year? 
To bring the business organisation to a position of offering to our existing and potential customers the most efficient innovative products, service and distribution in our markets through the power of data and rules-based engines embedded into all our customer-facing business operations.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Yes.

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Yes.

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?
Yes.

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
Yes.

Axa technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Open, collaborative, promoting risk taking at the right levels. Nurturing, accessible, strong communicator concerning strategy and culture, identifier and rewarder of both successes and well-done failures. Team builder getting into details whenever required.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
By extensively communicating our strategies at every level of the organisation. By promoting both the value of team as well as the individual roles and contributions around execution of the strategy. Rewards and recognition fuel both the right culture and the engagement and buzz around the strategy.

How many employees are in your IT team?
2,000.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
Over 1,000 are outsourced, so about a third.

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?
Yes.