Nicki Doble (GAICD) is the Group CIO of Cover-More, a subsidiary travel insurance and assistance company of Zurich, which operates across 22 countries. Doble specialises in the implementation of digital transformations across businesses, and raises companies’ awareness of cybersecurity and data governance risks, as well as maintaining cost control of IT. With more than 25 years experience in IT, Doble was approached by Cover-More to assist with global strategy and alignment of their technical areas, and has been working from the company's headquarters in Sydney, Australia since March 2019. Doble considers working with Cover-More to be one of her greatest opportunities over the last few years. "It is wonderful to work with a team that is truly customer-centric, and I have had excellent support from the executive leadership team, who are all on board with the transformation." Not only does Doble work with a great team, but she derives a strong sense of job satisfaction from the role. "When you assist a business which relates to medical emergencies, knowing that you have had a part in being responsible for the delivery of the technology that helps to protect people gives you a nice, warm feeling when you go home at night.”
As FinTech sits down with Doble, she is in the midst of hosting the first Cover-More CIO Global Alignment Workshop which spans four days (6-9 August 2019). Cara Morton, the Group Chief Operations Officer based out of Australia has joined several other regional CIOs in attendance to confer on the company’s current roadmap. Others in attendance include Paras Kothari, IT Director responsible for Cover-More India TrawellTag; Steve Frazen, the CIO of Travelex Insurance Services, who operates from the US Office; Raffaele Loiacono, Director of IT at Universal Assistance SA; Glen Broadhurst, GM of Global Digital and Direct, who looks after digital direct and optimisation from London; Jeremy Clutterbuck, the CTO of EMEA insurance services; and Mark Carnahan, Director of Infrastructure Services, who specialises in digital and cloud services from the Cover-More Washington location.
Becoming one global entity
“We’ve been operating as different businesses in different countries,” begins Doble, “and the core of the business strategy is the unification of the company as a single global enterprise with consistent products to accelerate technology and remain customer-centric, while leveraging the expertise of our parent company, Zurich.” Cover-More made a number of acquisitions over the last few years, including Halo Insurance, Universal Assistance, Travelex Insurance Services, Blue Insurance and Travel Ace Assistance. The workshop taking place at the Zurich building, London, UK, enables Doble and the rest of the team to reevaluate the company’s centralised and regional functions, and ensure that the acquired companies are receiving the support needed to standardise products. “These companies will assist with Cover-More obtaining a truly global footprint, as they are digital and complementary to the traditional function of Cover-More,” says Morton. “By coming together, these companies meet their full potential.” Clutterbuck affirms: “the acquisition of Halo has enabled us to implement various initiatives through the support of Cover-More. Being part of a bigger business provides additional leverage, and these initiatives are accelerating us into a global tech space. In turn, Halo complements Cover-More’s product suite, as we are in a niche market that specialises in smaller brands.”
Loiacono reiterates this sentiment with regard to Universal Assistance, which provides telemedicine and teleassistance: “Universal Assistance functions from our two large contact centres in Argentina and Colombia, providing medical support to travellers all over the world. As our travellers are largely from South America, we are complementary to Cover-More, which specialises in regions such as New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia. Together, we can form a great global service.” By drawing on considerable experience from across the regions, knowledge of law and regulation is shared across the partners. Carnahan adds that the increase in acquisitions has also refined the process of standardising change management for each respective acquisition, improving the overall speed of the companies’ expansion. Doble highlights one particular partner that has been instrumental in assisting the company streamline services: e5. “We've recently completed our e5 upgrades which will give us a lot more functionality in how we process our work. That means that we can design the service from a customer-led point of view. It's exciting, as it will change how we process claims. The team at e5 understood how important this was to us in shifting our customer experience and they were responsive and went above and beyond to help us get the major upgrade across the line without incident.”
In April 2019, Doble commenced the Global Technology Strategy a first of its kind for the organisation. A cloud first design principal meant that a cornerstone of the project was a global Infrastructure As Is Discovery, this was so a full picture of the size of the transformation could be ascertained. AWS was instrumental in delivering these insights and Cover-More is now its in planning stage of making use of the AWS innovative services and technology offerings as they commence a significant cloud transformation. Having undertaken a number of turnarounds and transformations Doble knows first-hand the value of a good partner. “The global data landscape is now very difficult and complex, so I am also very grateful for the team at Aware Services who have been a trusted adviser and their expertise in global data governance is exceptional. Being across many different regions with different data standards and regulations makes the globalisation task difficult so its important that you are working with experts”.
In terms of culture shift and people change management, Doble says that "this expansion will create room for career progression, which is exciting for our teams, particularly in regard to cybersecurity and digital, as the opportunities are huge.” There are currently regional cybersecurity programs taking place across all of the regions in which Cover-More operates, and Carnahan specifies that “the key opportunity here is the process of coalescing these programs together to create the most robust strategy possible.” He believes that this combination of regional expertise on a global level will provide customers with an even higher level of service and security. Part of this tailored service can be accredited to the optimisation model framework, which is not only focused around reporting tools, but on proprietary technologies built upon a robust methodology, according to Broadhurst, who goes on to say: “we have our own UX testing tools, which allow us to do high level personalisation and segmentation based on aggregate data that we bring into our ecosystem. Then, using the years of experience from across our different companies, we can apply these insights across different partners to provide the most personalised service. The more granular data points that we put into our optimisation model, the better we become at providing a seamless customer experience.”
As Cover-More sets out to strengthen their global footprint, Doble says that customers can expect to see regional products become available worldwide, or, as Carnahan put it: “we will become a truly global entity, offering true global value to our customers.” He also shares that they hope to enhance the speed of assistance, so that when an issue arises, they can act preemptively to keep their customers safe when travelling. Frazen says that there will be one question at the centre of the strategy as they move forward: “how can Cover-More provide the right product and the right experience, personalised for an individual traveller, at the time of need, so they get the maximum value out of their experiences, and their opportunities to do business with us?” As the team finish up their workshop in London, Cover-More is set to take customer service to the next level, and to sharpen the group’s competitive edge on the global stage.