(CUNA Mutual headquarters in Madison, Wisc. Source: CUNA Mutual.)
The velocity of change in business is such that even well-run technology departments are driven to transformational efforts to keep up with the pace. Tim Peterson, who became CUNA Mutual’s CIO in Feb. 2015, is tasked with leading an aggressive transformation effort to further IT’s strategic role and participate in a transformation of the company’s relationships with its credit union partners and their end customers. CUNA Mutual markets a variety of insurance, benefits and retirement products through its credit union partners and its TruStage distribution channel.
“An orientation toward change is nothing new for us, but the pace and impact of change is causing us to double down and make some larger bets,” Peterson relates. “The velocity of change is accelerating dramatically owing to a variety of factors, such as InsurTech activity and non-traditional competition, and that has led us to ask how we must respond as a traditional B2B company.
Peterson is no stranger to large transformation efforts. In his most recent position as CIO of Wellmark he led in a large-scale, multi-year business and digital transformation project. He was involved in an earlier large-scale transformation effort at United Health Group as Senior VP of IT, and he served as CIO of OptumHealth Care Solutions.
Two Strategic Priorities
CUNA Mutual is pursuing what Peterson characterizes as a significant transformation effort in support of two strategic priorities: strengthening the company’s relationships with credit unions, and creating a more attractive customer experience for their members. “It’s a matter of recognizing that the B2B relationship defines us, but that we must also focus on the B2C dimension, focusing on the customer value proposition,” Peterson explains.
“Our overarching vision is to deliver a seamless integration into the lifestyle of the consumer and the workflow of the credit union,” Peterson adds. “To help achieve this vision, we have created two large programs with significant investment to help achieve these goals.”
CUNA Mutual’s Direct to Consumer Transformation Program is focused on creating a next-generation omnichannel experience for the company’s consumer/credit union members, with a focus on digitization of CUNA Mutual’s direct-to-consumer business, which involves campaign management, consumer outreach, front-end quoting, automated underwriting, rating and enrollment, and enhanced servicing.
On the B2B side, CUNA Mutual’s Large Account Transformation Program is focused on what Peterson calls the company’s valued and unique distribution partner—the credit union. “The work we do here will have a valuable effect on all our credit union customers going forward,” Peterson comments. “An example of this is our work developing a member-facing claims portal to provide a streamlined and expedited member claims experience for our credit union partners.”
“These are well-defined, ambitious programs with strong governance with large investments,” Peterson relates. “Though we have other initiatives, these are our priority programs.”
New Way of Operating
To tackle these and other initiatives, Peterson says that CUNA Mutual is instilling a new way of operating that he characterizes as true, at-scale agile transformation. “Because technology is an essential part of our business, agile methodology helps us make a philosophical shift in how we make decisions and work across the company,” he says.
“We are moving faster than ever before, and by thinking differently we are creating real and positive changes in a short period of time,” Peterson adds. “In order to move these efforts faster and think beyond the box, we need to push how we operate in IT and across the company to meet the needs of our customers in the years to come.”