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CIO50 2021 #26-50 Loren Fisher, Youi

  • Name Loren Fisher
  • Title Chief Information Officer
  • Company Youi
  • Commenced role May 2018
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 110 staff, 4 direct reports
  • Insurance company Youi is one of the fastest growing providers in the expanding Australian general insurance sector.

    And since taking on the role of CIO back in May 2018, Loren Fisher and her team have designed and deployed a number of important digital projects that have helped transform how the business operates and supports its customers across a growing portfolio of products.

    “Youi is on a growth trajectory, and across the business we are all firmly aligned on enabling this growth – for me and my team it is by delivering technology solutions to ensure we can adapt faster and meet the business’s ambitions,” she tells CIO Australia.

    “This means even better cross functional collaboration, expansion into new channels and products and continuing to nurture trust and our reputation for personalised customer service.”

    A key area of focus has been to introduce tools that would help develop what Fisher says were already mature platforms for gamifying employee engagement and collaboration across the business. 

    This proved prescient with the onset of the pandemic.

    She and her team worked across the business to enable pandemic ‘zoning’ of staff both virtually and physically. Supporting this was a new “intuitive” intranet, developed by user centric design thinking principles and drawing staff input from across the business. A “carefully curated” rollout of Microsoft collaboration tools enabled ongoing engagement through YourLife and YourGame gamified wellbeing platforms. 

    Fisher stresses that this was “far from a technology only initiative”, championed by a network of leaders and executives across the business actively streaming and sharing content, and in particular seeking to engage what had become a largely remote workforce.

    In the seven months from March to September 2020, more than 38,000 events were hosted in Teams, including weekly CEO town-halls, webinars with wellbeing and health experts, and a host of educational events from guitar lessons and yoga sessions to cooking classes.

    The zoning concept was further enhanced by the BPM team who utilised the platform to build a number of PowerApps to quickly automate internal processes. Over the seven months, more than 500 zone changes and 7,000 emails were automated.

    “This not only saved time, but also reduced the risk of mistakes and assisted the team in quickly facilitating automated zone changes between our offices and the work from home zones,” Fisher says. 

    Youi was also able to plan for appropriate re-entry to help determine where people should sit, what time they should return and rotate through their teams. Meanwhile, planned facility adjustments for air conditioning, elevator use and parking allocations to limit the chance of cross contamination were automated.

    Hoping to further promote the uptake and leveraging of these tools throughout the business, Fisher and her team created Youi’s ‘Citizen Developer Framework’. The upshot has been engagement scores never seen before.

    New channels 

    Youi built systems to integrate and enable the launch of two key new channels, partnering with Blue Zebra (underwriting BZI’s personal lines insurance) and online property marketplace Domain (acting as the contact centre for the company’s insurance arm, Domain Insure). It also built internal and customer facing systems to support the launch of Youi’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance product, making it the first new entrant in New South Wales in over 20 years. 

    Fisher says Youi was one of the first insurers in Australia to reach out and provide direct cashback premium relief during the pandemic over a series of three digital ‘campaigns’: “These were swift and agile responses to the changing conditions”.

    Further boosting Youi’s ability to enhance customer experiences, Fisher and the team introduced the underlying speech to text technology used by the company’s data scientists to build machine learning models that help it analyse customer – and employee – sentiment as well as test and reinforce compliance processes. 

    Digital self-service channels were bolstered too, including with the introduction of an in-house online ‘claims tracker’ and the ability for customers to lodge a vehicle weather event claim and book an assessment online. 

    By 2021, online amendments increased by 46% for the year and the number of individual client portal sessions rose 49%, while the total number of claims lodged online grew 62% year-on-year.

    “And lastly, we commenced our transformation journey to modernise our core insurance platforms by replacing our pricing engine with a new bespoke application (Stratos) - which is now successfully running in parallel to our system of record,” Fisher notes.

    With a strong track record of successful project delivery now under her belt, especially throughout the pandemic period, Fisher can also be proud of the greater voice she and her team now have at the board level.

    “Last year we introduced a directors technology advisory group, which has this year been elevated to a formal board committee, dedicated entirely to discussing strategic technology topics,” she says.

    “I enjoy a lot of air-time with our directors, executives and throughout the business, and aim to use it both to share positions and to actively listen and absorb the many sometimes differing views.”

     David Binning

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