Liberty Mutual GRS CIO: The Digital Persona in Commercial Insurance

John Heveran talks about Liberty Mutual Global Risk Solutions’ work with partner DMI to make commercial insurance customer-centric through the use of digital personas.

(Image credit: Pixabay.)

While digitization is very much about customer experience it’s about much more, and personalization means more than just personalizing capabilities to the end customer. Liberty Mutual Global Risk Solutions (GRS, Boston), the insurer’s commercial business organization, reorganized in early 2018, shows how personalization can be applied beyond a personal lines context to involve a variety of parties to a commercial insurance policy or transaction. Liberty Mutual GRS CIO John Heveran talked with Insurance Innovation Reporter about its work with consulting partner DMI (Bethesda. Md.) to introduce the concept of the digital persona to mid-sized and large commercial business.

Insurance Innovation Reporter: The concept of personalization and its recent incarnation as the “digital persona” tends to make one think of retail or personal lines business. What’s the application of the digital persona to large commercial business?

John Heveran, CIO, Liberty Mutual GRS: Large commercial has very unique constituencies—you may have a risk manager, a claims manager, someone who is onsite or an injured worker in a workers’ compensation context. In mid-sized commercial you might not have a professional risk manager per se, but someone who handles risk and compliance, and of course you have the broker relationship.

John Heveran, CIO, Liberty Mutual GRS.

Working with DMI we broke down these roles into specific personas, such as “Midsized Mike” or “Ian Injured.” We came up with these names to give a picture of what these constituencies need and want. We need to give Ian a way to get back to work in a supportive way, and his needs are very different than “Rachel Risk,” our persona for a risk manager at a large commercial client. The personas are designed to provide a set of more specific rather than generic interactions. Other personas we’ve developed are Barry Broker, Owen Onsite and Catherine Claims.

IIR: And these provide a basis on which to automate various transactions?

JH: Yes, to automate and to be able to look toward providing capabilities that don’t exist today.

IIR: How did you work with DMI to create the digital personas and integrate them into the insurance value chain?

JH: DMI has long been a big partner in developing software and framing solutions between business and technology. We’ve done more and more over a period of well over 10 years, and it has culminated in this recent initiative on digital personas. Within the last year, we began that initiative by doing research into the market to identify various potential constituencies and create distinct personas to build experiences around. That has evolved to the point where we’ve mapped the personas and their needs and now we’re working on the software to deliver on those capabilities.

IIR: How do you think about these new constituent experiences with respect to existing technology?

JH: It requires taking a different lens to frame the problem the customer outward, and once you take that customer-centric lens, it’s a much more efficient way to think about the technology. We tend to think of the technology in functional ways—such as the claims or underwriting system—but with the customer view, all those underlying systems are just a resource pool that we want to bring to bear on these experiences. We need to break the functional bonds and take the perspective of the persona, whether a risk manager, an injured worker or whatever.

IIR: What kind of technology does that assume being added to legacy kinds of systems?

JH: Modern technologies, such as API-driven modern web and native cloud technologies, to build those online experiences and shield the customers from knowing what systems are in the background delivering information. In the prior paradigm, a customer might look at a bill, pay a bill, look at claims outcomes via the respective systems; in the new paradigm, we would serve up all a risk manager might want in a single, consolidated view. In short, this is inherently very digital, very cloud-native in the specific underlying technologies, and we’ve used those technologies to build this platform.

IIR: So, the use of digital personas implies significant improvements in Liberty Mutual GRS’s business processes.

JH: Yes, it “will,” given the stage of the initiative that we’re currently in. Ultimately it removes the friction that the traditional, siloed approaches have caused. The other big gain we anticipate is the ability to gain new insights from this customer constituency view, and we believe that will ultimately set us apart from our competitors. Commercial insurance, especially large commercial, is really about relationships; it’s not simply transactional, but rather about a long relationship, and a win/win for both parties.

IIR: Has Liberty Mutual GRS thought about applying digital personas to risk mitigation strategies?

JH: Absolutely. If you have personas and create compelling user experiences for them you can combine that with other things. I’m hypothesizing at this point, but one might ask, for example, if there’s an opportunity for injured workers to rely on each other. Now you have a platform to at least conceptualize that. We are having those kinds of conversations.

Will the CIO Survive the Emergence of New C-Level Officers?

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at or (503) 936-2803.

Comment (1)

  1. I just want you to know that I find your commercials very irritating. I have to mute or change the channel when your commercials come on screaming. You all seem to think we are idiots sitting at home watching tv.
    Hope you take this serious.

Leave a Comment