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Management Strategies

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MassMutual CIO Bob Casale Reimagines IT

The technology head visited Insurance & Technology's offices and shared some insights into the insurer's new approach to IT.

When he was named Elite 8 in 2009, MassMutual CIO Bob Casale said that the company was in the midst of wrapping up some major technology modernizations, including an enterprise content management system, data warehousing capabilities, a new whole life platform and a web-based illustration tool. In a visit to the Insurance & Technology offices last week, Casale says the company is now thinking strategically about what IT's goal should be in a post-modernization environment.

"We spent blood, sweat and tears on this modernization -- what's next for IT?" Casale says. "We are fundamentally changing the way we look at IT in the firm. It's now an integral part of our overall strategy."

Casale explains that the company asked itself how it could "reimagine IT," and came up with four overarching goals: Be more agile in the marketplace, stimulate innovation, change the cost structure of IT, and make the work exciting for IT professionals.

To meet the first two goals, "We've created the headroom for an innovation agenda: we have an emerging tech group, and we're trying to develop bold hypotheses and not be a bystander," he explains. "Life was great when we controlled the velocity of the market, but we have to be much more agile now."

On the third point, MassMutual has introduced a new strategy for rating its technology, taking a page out of investment advisors' handbooks.

"We have a very sophisticated and detailed catalog of all our technology and rate it as 'buy, 'hold,' or 'sell,'" Casale explains. "We want to identify the technologies we should look at, and in the process of standing up that new capability, we relate it to the old tech as well" and rationalize what existing systems might become redundant and need to be retired.

But it's within the IT organization -- the fourth bullet point -- where some of the most major adjustments have taken place. Casale says there is a focus on redefining every role in IT. The company reduced its number of IT job titles from 100 to 35 with the goal of making it clearer to each employee what their duties were.

"People were switching hats every minute," he says. "We wanted to align expectations to the industry."

With a focus on being a leading company when it comes to next-generation technologies like mobility, big data, and social media, the clearer job descriptions also helps MassMutual identify what skill sets it is missing in their quest to meet the innovation agenda.

"A lot of careers that we historically viewed vertically we now view as more of a lattice," he says. "It creates an open culture where people are collaborating very differently.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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