Customer-First Digital Transformation: A More Human CX Through Tech

Digital itself is not the answer, but technology can support a more humanized experience, says Ryan Downing, VP, CIO, Enterprise Business Solutions, Principal Financial Group.

It may seem jarring to hear, during a podcast dedicated to digital transformation in the life insurance industry that “digital is not the answer.” But that was one of the observations made by Ryan Downing, VP and CIO of Enterprise Business Solutions, Principal (Des Moines, Iowa). Downing’s perspective comes from a long career at the Fortune 500 company, including working in Principal’s global operations, specifically as Chief Technology Officer for Latin America.

That comment came in response to the term “digital first.” The reason digital is not the answer, is that it is the customer that must come first—that a superior customer experience must give customers what they want. And sometimes what they want is to interact with a human. But as Downing describes it, technology is a vital part of delivering the human part of the experience along with the more purely technological.

Ryan Downing has an unusual perspective on digital transformation as CIO of Principal’s Enterprise Business Solutions. The organization has evolved to be responsible not only for corporate services technology—such as finance, HR, legal compliance and actuarial—but also for customer experience through management of major enterprise platforms such as Salesforce, CRM and call center. Enterprise Business Services partners with Principal’s business units to understand its audiences and build great experiences for them.

Ryan’s perspectives on customer experience, technology and teamwork, come from a long career at this Fortune 500 company, including working in Principal’s global technology operations, for example as Chief Technology Officer for Latin America.

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