Technology Champion 2019

The shortlist below has been recognised by Insurance Times as innovators in their field.  The winner will be decided by industry vote and revealed at the awards ceremony on 26 September.

James Barnard
Chief Operations and Technology Officer, The Ardonagh Group

James Barnard (Barny) joined Towergate in 2016 from Aviva, where he spent 16 years in various senior roles including Shared Service Director, Transformation Director and IT Integration Director.
Barny was brought in to lead the execution of Towergate’s turnaround plans, including various IT and Finance Transformation programmes. The three-year legacy Towergate transformation plans are now largely complete, delivering service improvements, optimised processing and significant operational savings.
While the fix addressed 20 years of acquisitive growth and lack of integration, the investment and adoption of new technology has seen the business leapfrog many competitors, becoming one of the first in the industry to embrace cloud-based technology, introduce robotics and automation, new digital and data capabilities. All of this has been achieved through assembling a high calibre team and collaborative partnerships with some of the world’s largest but also new/start-up technology firms.
The fix delivered the stable and secure infrastructure required to enable the transition into The Ardonagh Group which has since gone on to acquire and integrate market leading brands including Direct Group, Autonet, Carole Nash and Swinton Insurance. The Group has more than doubled in size while maintaining its focus to optimise and simplify IT along the journey.
Barny’s mantra is simple ‘customers first and technology second’. His teams values are anchored to championing truly transformational change and service innovation across the Group. Achieved through driving a culture of deliberate, disruptive and profound transformation. Echoed by his continued focus and investment in Cyber, Digital and Data capabilities.

Oke Eleazu
COO, Bought By Many

Oke Eleazu is Chief Operating Officer of Bought By Many (BBM). BBM is one of Europe’s leading Insurtech start ups, focused on disrupting traditional insurance markets by using digital to provide customers with better insurance experience. This seems to be working as within 2 years of launching their pet insurance product, they have an NPS score of 78, have been awarded Feefo’s Gold status and recently won the Moneywise Most Trusted Pet Insurance award…which is voted for by customers. Oke has held several senior roles in major organizations, all centred on improving the experience of customers. He was Director of Customer Experience for Sainsbury’s, where he created and executed a new strategy for delivering ever improving service for Sainsbury’s 24 million customers a week. Previously he was Customer Service and Operations Director for Bupa and Customer Service Director at Prudential

In September 2016, he published his first book, ‘The Cult of Service Excellence’. The book is about how to create the culture in any business to ensure there are engaged employees delivering exceptional customer experience.

Adam Miller
IT Director, Markerstudy Insurance

With 20 years’ IT experience in blue chip organisations, combined with extensive knowledge of UK Motor, Home, Pet and Private Healthcare insurance, Adam is the driving force for technology and innovation within Markerstudy Group of Companies. Responsible for a team of over 120 employees, across multiple locations, supporting more than 10 brands, he balances the supply and demand of IT services with the progression of cutting edge, technology strategies that support our partners and customers.

Some highlights in Adams’ time at Markerstudy Group include:

– The adoption of a modern DevOps approach, coupled with the use of elastic cloud services, to deliver our new cutting edge motor rating platform – this has accelerated our rating capabilities to a whole new level of speed and agility, not seen in current software vendors on the market.
– Pushing the wide spread implementation of Citrix and Citrix cloud capabilities to deliver true desktop flexibility; improving security and business resilience, whilst lowering the cost of operation. This has transformed the desktop estate, with PC’s being replaced with thin terminals and laptops replaced with Chromebooks.
– Modernising the underpinning IT network services for the whole of Markerstudy Group with the migration to SDWAN technologies, that both simplifies network complexity and radically reduces the cost of operation.

Aldo Monteforte
CEO & Founder, The Floow

After earning an MSc in Management (Sloan Fellows) from Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, Aldo Monteforte went on to have a successful investment banking career before becoming an entrepreneur and investor in high-growth telematics companies in 2000.

In 2012, after spotting the potential to transform telematics from the convergence of mobile technologies, large scale data mining and psychology applied to driver behaviour, Aldo founded The Floow with the mission to make mobility safer and smarter for everyone.

Over seven years, Aldo has built The Floow into an organisation which delivers a range of telematics solutions to insurers, auto manufacturers and fleet operators worldwide, with a team of 110 based at our US office in Detroit, across mainland Europe and at our Sheffield HQ.

As The Floow’s CEO, Aldo leads our business development and international expansion into major growth markets and acts as primary custodian of our vision and strategy. Aldo provides the framework to deliver on our ambitions and innovations, leading The Floow in a way that ensures we continue delivering innovative products that meet client requirements and stimulate demand for new capabilities.

Aldo is a well-respected voice in the telematics sector, regularly contributing to conversations in this area, with his impact resulting in invitations by the UK government to participate in trade visits overseas and attend policy discussions at No 10 with leaders of fast-growing UK tech companies. In 2018, Aldo became a Northern Powerhouse export champion working to showcase the opportunities to be found in the North.

Hélène Stanway
Digital Leader, AXA XL

Hélène Stanway, Digital Leader at AXA XL, has built a nimble technical team of entrepreneurs to ‘research’ – find new technologies and test their capability, ‘experiment’ – find real business problems and opportunities and develop useful new ways to solve them, ‘educate’ – share findings across AXA XL and help others build their skills. Key themes explored are Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics Process Automation, Virtual & Augmented Reality, Internet of Things and Mobility. She believes that these technologies only have value when the business and technologists work hand in hand to enable new ways of working, new products/services and new levels of optimization across insurance processes.

Key highlights:

1) Introduced working with startups representing AXA XL in several InsurTech accelerator programs.
2) Led the implementation of the world’s first insurance Blockchain for AXA XL: InsurWave. A cross-industry collaboration with seven other organisations. The technology has enabled a reduction in the number of processing steps, increased data transparency and the removal of all data reconciliation.
3) Led the development of a cognitive AI capability with partner Expert System after concluding three concurrent proofs of concept. AXA XL can now process all Property surveys rather than relying on sampling.
4) Supported a cross-functional team in the experimentation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices for Property and Marine Cargo, currently in active experimentation.
5) Introduced the concept of DCX – Digital Customer Experience to AXA XL and has been promoting the fundamentals of DCX vision, principles and outcomes (KPIs) to the extended organization.