Tack­ling tech trends at State Farm

Digital Insurance - - EXECUTIVE SESSION - BY NATHAN GO­LIA

Tech­nol­ogy re­search di­rec­tor Chris Mullen’s job is to iden­tify which dig­i­tal trends will be win­ners for the mul­ti­line in­surance gi­ant. Dig­i­tal In­surance sat down with her to talk about the tech­nolo­gies she’s fol­low­ing.

DI: WHAT ARE YOUR MA­JOR DU­TIES AS DI­REC­TOR OF TECH­NOL­OGY RE­SEARCH?

Chris Mullen: I work in our strate­gic re­sources depart­ment, where I over­see the tech­nol­ogy re­search divi­sion that con­cen­trates on auto and build­ing safety and tech­nol­ogy, with a fo­cus on loss mit­i­ga­tion and preven­tion. We serve as the enterprise re­source for re­search and con­sul­ta­tion in­volv­ing au­to­mo­tive safety; ve­hi­cle de­sign and func­tion­al­ity; au­to­mo­tive repara­bil­ity, safety, and se­cu­rity; ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy; build­ing safety and dura­bil­ity; and ma­te­ri­als.

Our main pri­or­ity is the safety of our cus­tomers, their fam­i­lies and their friends. Through in­ter­nal ex­per­tise, re­search and anal­y­sis, cou­pled with ex­ter­nal col­lab­o­ra­tion, we ap­ply sound sci­ence to drive the devel­op­ment and the ex­e­cu­tion of ev­i­dence-based in­ter­ven­tions that can help make ve­hi­cles and homes safer.

DI: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MA­JOR CHAL­LENGES IN­SUR­ERS FACE FROM A TECH STAND­POINT TO­DAY?

Mullen: It is not a new phe­nom­e­non that the pace of tech­no­log­i­cal change presents chal­lenges for all in­dus­tries, not just in­surance. A key facet in suc­cess­fully nav­i­gat­ing th­ese changes is un­der­stand­ing the fun­da­men­tals of the tech­nol­ogy and as­sess­ing how it could im­pact our busi­ness. A wide range of ex­ter­nal dy­nam­ics will im­pact State Farm cus­tomers in ev­ery mar­ket we serve. As a re­sult, the way we serve our cus­tomers con­tin­ues to evolve. Ve­hi­cles are get­ting safer due to ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy. Eco­nomic con­di­tions are af­fect­ing home own­er­ship rates. Sen­sors are be­com­ing per­va­sive in our lives, al­low­ing us to use data in new ways. Th­ese cir­cum­stances and so many oth­ers cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for State Farm to im­prove con­sumers’ lives in new ways and on a scale few or­ga­ni­za­tions can achieve.

DI: CAN YOU GIVE AN EX­AM­PLE OF A PAR­TIC­U­LAR TECH­NOL­OGY YOU’RE LOOK­ING INTO CLOSELY?

Mullen: One huge tech­nol­ogy evo­lu­tion go­ing on right now is au­to­mated driv­ing tech­nol­ogy. State Farm has a long his­tory of sup­port­ing tech­nol­ogy ad­vance­ments that im­prove safety for the ben­e­fit of our cus­tomers and all oth­ers on our roads, and this is no dif­fer­ent. This tech­nol­ogy’s po­ten­tial to im­prove safety on our na­tion’s road­ways is the key tenet of our fo­cus to un­der­stand the likely path of its in­tro­duc­tion and the im­pact it will have on our cus­tomers.

DI: HOW DOES THAT MAN­I­FEST IT­SELF IN STRAT­EGY DE­CI­SIONS?

Mullen: We work with the Univer­sity of Michi­gan Mo­bil­ity Trans­for­ma­tion Cen­ter on au­to­mated driv­ing tech­nol­ogy. This gives us early ac­cess to the lat­est data and re­search find­ings in the

“Sen­sors are be­com­ing per­va­sive in our lives, al­low­ing us to use data in new ways.” — CHRIS MULLEN, STATE FARM

area of ve­hi­cle au­to­ma­tion while col­lab­o­rat­ing with top in­dus­try stake­hold­ers. It pro­vides us with data to learn about the risks that may be mit­i­gated by this tech­nol­ogy and about new risks that may emerge.

DI: HOW DO YOU WORK WITH THE IT/IN­NO­VA­TION DEPART­MENTS WITHIN STATE FARM TO ACTUALIZE YOUR RE­SEARCH?

Mullen: The re­search and anal­y­sis per­formed by State Farm ex­perts is com­pleted in co­op­er­a­tive en­vi­ron­ments in­volv­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from mul­ti­ple depart­ments all bring­ing their ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise to the ta­ble. The re­search con­ducted by th­ese col­lab­o­ra­tive teams serves as the com­pany’s pri­mary re­source for in­sights and in­for­ma­tion.

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