An Interview with Matt Lowth, Chief Information Officer, MLC Life Insurance

"One of the key benefits of cloud technology is it’s very quick to develop, test and iterate ideas - this can be done at a significantly lower cost than in a more traditional on-prem infrastructure capability, even in a virtualised environment..."

FST Media: What are your business and digital priorities for the next 6 months?

Lowth: We're part way through a massive technology transformation, which has come about as part of Nippon Life’s majority acquisition of our business.  This transformation not only involves replacing all of our office based technology (back-office apps such as ERP, etc), but also migrating our legacy platforms on to a new Policy Administration System, delivering an Analytics platform as well as our new digital capability, built on Sitecore.  The exciting part about all this is this will simplify our operating environment and allow us to provide a greater customer experience across our entire product lifecycle.

 

FST Media: What technology is proving to be the biggest game changer across the insurance industry?

Lowth: At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, I think Artificial Intelligence will be one of the next big things for the insurance Industry, with the potential to allow for a very tailored advice experience at scale, by leveraging data pulled from multiple sources.

 

FST Media: What are the key challenges with growth that the insurance industry in Australia faces?

Lowth: Today, more and more people expect a greater quality of service and are much more sensitive to price than they've been in the past.  From a technology perspective, a key challenge to insurers is being able to provide a great experience to customers and advisers at a lower cost than we're able to do today.  Most organisations with a heavy legacy technology footprint will struggle with this as they have a massive sunk investment which they aren't in a position to modernise.  As such, all of this digital fulfillment either has to come at a higher cost, or at the expense of another internal service. We're lucky in that regard as at the end of our separation with NAB, we won't have a legacy problem that needs solving.

 

FST Media: How will fintech and particularly cloud technology drive new ways for the insurance sector to develop?

Lowth: One of the key benefits of cloud technology is it’s very quick to develop, test and iterate ideas.  This can be done at a significantly lower cost than in a more traditional on-prem infrastructure capability, even in a virtualised environment.  This means as Insurance businesses adopt these technologies, you're likely to see increased product segmentation and willingness to try more business experiments. 

 

FST Media: How is MLC Life Insurance responding to the challenges of digital disruption?

Lowth: As I've mentioned above, we're completely rebuilding our technology ecosystem.  We're not just changing the tools we use to the latest/greatest tech, we're also changing the way we work, with an emphasis on DevOps and CI/CD and disposable environments.  The key benefit of this is we can deliver change more quickly/cheaply, allowing us to respond to disruption as quickly as possible.

 

FST Media: What does it mean for a company to stay ‘agile’ with its digital initiatives?

Lowth: The risk with Agile is people just see it as a Technology thing.  The tech team alone shifting to delivery in an agile way won't deliver the sorts of benefits most organisations expect.  Ultimately, Agile is a mindset which the entire company needs to adopt, it's about Business and Technology working as one team and pushing accountability for decisions to the people best placed to make them.

 

FST Media:  Where do you look for emerging technology trends?

Lowth: I think you have to look outside our industry for a lot of the interesting tech trends.  With Tech Companies moving into Automotive (Eg. Telsa), show what's possible with the advancements in Artificial Intelligence.  Companies like Netflix are doing great things in open sourcing their resilience tech (Chaos Monkey etc), and companies like Uber are great for ideas on how to design a product which is simple for customers to use.

 

FST Media: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Lowth: I've got a new born (Max, who's about 6 months old), so a lot of my time outside of work is spent being a new dad.  I'm also a bit of a tech geek, so playing with the latest/greatest tech is always good fun, and whatever other spare time I've got is typically spent playing with cars (motorsport).

 

Hear more from Matt Lowth at the FST Media Future of Insurance Conference in Sydney on 23 March...

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