An Interview with Kerry Fullagar


Mitchell: What are your top IT priorities over the next 12 to 18 months?


Fullagar: We will continue to build and enhance our multi channel sales and distribution platform to support our business growth and customer retention strategy.  In parallel we will maintain a strong focus on efficiency gains in our business operations, in particular supporting key initiatives such as the claims transformation programme whilst maintaining our good track record in IT expense management.


Mitchell: You have said that Allianz Australia’s claims and customer service platform upgrade has been well received by customers. What do you attribute the positive response to?


Fullagar: Reducing complexity for our business by consolidating the number of applications they have to work with, more automation in non value add activities and alignment of the platform to support our business models.  All of this was achieved by improving collaboration and the understanding of business needs using Agile principles and concepts.


Mitchell: Implementation of the platform initially ran 20 per cent over budget. How was the overrun managed and how did you get the project back on track?


Fullagar: We refreshed the requirements and technology design, re-baselined the plan and adjusted the team size to keep costs under control. We were then in a much stronger position to continue with the build phase. With the recommencement of the build we maintained strong management oversight, both from a Business and IT perspective, to ensure we continued with a strong focus on issues and risks.


Mitchell: How is technology assisting you in achieving higher levels of customer engagement?


Fullagar: The collaboration tools such as portals, wiki’s, Lotus Sametime and Atlassian Jira are all playing a big role in increasing internal customer engagement. We are also investing significantly in best practices such as continuous build, deployment automation and test management that improves the overall quality and time to market of our software.  Our external focus is on providing portal based services to our customers that assist them in their key moments of truth at new business or claim time.


Mitchell: How is Allianz Australia using Big Data analytics to improve the customer experience?


Fullagar: Big Data is an area we want to look at this year with a view to understanding what this means for our business. With any new technology trend, distinguishing  hype from reality is always required – is it going to add real business value? From a customer experience though we are looking at improving the way we send and manage correspondence, more self service and providing easier access to information. We see the trend towards mobile and social networking as a real opportunity to improve the customer experience.


Mitchell: As the industry pushes forward with customer self servicing, what do you see as the relative advantages and disadvantages of this model?


Fullagar: We see big advantages for our customers by providing them self service, this we believe will improve customer retention and loyalty by enabling the possibility of being ‘connected’ with us 24X7. Our new architecture, in particular the use of Liferay Portal and implementing web service’s for our existing COBOL mainframe applications are key enablers for self service. Some of the challenges the industry will face though will be to improve the information and quality of our customer data, increasing demand on infrastructure services and continuing to maintain a high level of privacy and security of our customer information.


Mitchell: What do you see as the next ‘game changer’ in general insurance technology?


Fullagar: Only a brave person would predict the next game changer but I think what the social networking companies such as Facebook, Twitter and others will be doing in the future has the potential to challenge prevalent business models under which we operate today. Increasing use of GPS technology to better underwrite and price insurance will also gather pace.


Mitchell: To what extent do technological imperatives drive the overall strategy at Allianz Australia?


Fullagar: Technology is a key enabler within the overall strategy and is playing an important part today. The challenge for us is to work with our business partners in understanding where technology can add real business value and deliver successful outcomes particularly around operational efficiency and effectiveness and excellence in customer service and underwriting.


Mitchell: What skills do you value most when recruiting executives into your team?


Fullagar: I believe the most important aspects are having a ‘can do’ attitude and visible leadership qualities. People who can define a goal and motivate teams to work together to achieve great things.  This obviously needs to be supported by the right technical skills and experience but the right attitude will always deliver good results.


Mitchell: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?


Fullagar: Making a difference – someone who is passionate about delivering real value for our business through shared understanding and removing obstacles and enabling my team to achieve to their potential by creating the right environment to succeed.


Related links:

An Interview with Steve Coles, Chief Information Officer, Allianz Australia