“Our infrastructure is predominantly online based and therefore it has maintained its simplicity over the lifespan of the company,” says Dave Moore from Blue Insurances.
Dave Moore is IT director at Blue Insurances, a fully Irish-owned enterprise established in 2003 by Ciaran Mulligan and Rowan Devereux.
The company was initially set up as a travel insurance wholesale provider and expanded into the UK market within two years.
Today it provides direct insurance in the areas of car, home, travel, gadget, car hire, pets, weddings, motor breakdown and bicycles and has more than 350,000 customers across a number of brands.
Can you outline the breadth and scope of the technology rollout across your organisation and what improvements it will bring to the company?
Technology plays a pivotal role across a breadth of disciplines at Blue Insurance, including policy management, website development, customer relationship management, contact centre support and internet marketing. Traditionally the company has sold niche insurance products and built its own bespoke policy management and contact centre support systems.
‘Don’t be afraid to review and change. Business decisions and opportunities don’t have a steady rhythm and neither does the ever-evolving world of technology’
– DAVE MOORE
The introduction of our innovative two-year home and motor insurance has created a requirement for the company to expand its core online offering and to develop a sophisticated sales support infrastructure where it will combine its ability to develop online policy management systems with proven cloud CRM and telephony solutions and focus on the ability for these systems to communicate in a unified manner, to achieve a 360-degree view of each Blue Insurance customer.
There are several phases to this project and each will help to enhance the customer experience and increase knowledge across the entire business.
What are the main points of your company’s IT strategy?
The main points for Blue Insurances IT strategy are:
- Migrate user functions to the cloud i.e. CRM and telephony
- Migrate its business processes to the cloud where possible. We have commenced a feasibility study in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland and DCU IC4 to determine the difficulties facing a regulated industry attempting to move business processes to the cloud and to analyse the potential for success
- Enhance its integration and data understanding with comparison engines in the UK and Australia
- Develop data communication between policy management systems, CRM and telephony systems to improve the company’s visibility of each customer
- Develop a mobile solution for all consumer-facing website platforms
- Develop a new version of our pet insurance with more sophisticated rating matrix logic
- Enhance and expand our own virtual environment infrastructure.
Can you give a snapshot of how extensive your IT infrastructure is?
Our IT infrastructure consists of:
- Policy management systems, which are all developed in-house, for home insurance, travel insurance, car hire excess insurance, motor breakdown cover, pet insurance, gadget insurance and wedding insurance. All of these products are coded internally and are hosted on a suite of dedicated servers located in a purpose-built data centre in Amsterdam
- Motor insurance management systems from Relay Software hosted within our own virtual environment
- Sophisticated cloud CRM solution from Salesforce.com
- Tier 1 cloud contact centre telephony system from Genesys and internal telephony from ShoreTel
- Internal IT infrastructure and virtual environments for office management.
In terms of managing IT budgets, what are your key thoughts on how CIOs/heads of technology should achieve their goals?
There are number of ways that heads of technology can manage and operate within their budgets:
- Create a clear IT strategy that can be agreed and understood by the principles of the business and determine your budget from this.
- Procure hard on price but maintain requirement expectation, it may be a simple approach but every cent counts.
Don’t be afraid to review and change. Business decisions and opportunities don’t have a steady rhythm and neither does the ever-evolving world of technology, so don’t be afraid to review the budget several times a year and change it, if required.
How complex is the infrastructure, are you taking steps to simplify it?
Our infrastructure is predominantly online based and therefore it has maintained its simplicity over the lifespan of the company. Having said that, we have identified areas where we can migrate business process to the cloud and we continue to question our infrastructure and business logic regularly.
Furthermore, we are introducing new cloud-based solutions in both CRM and telephony functions to help to achieve flexibility and simplicity for the business in the future. Due to the fact that we are a relatively young business, we don’t have any legacy systems to manage or simplify.
‘I will always be a programmer, so it is not unusual to see me coding from time to time’
– DAVE MOORE
With the introduction of a project to improve our component communication it could be argued that we are adding complexity, but we are wrapping this additional sophistication within a simplistic infrastructural model. Finally, we are continuing to improve and extend our virtual environments, which are also helping to simplify our IT infrastructure, increase our flexibility and improve performance.
Do you have a large in-house IT team, or do you look to strategically outsource where possible?
We have a small in-house IT team of talented software engineers who build all of our internal policy management systems. We continue to look for bright, intelligent and driven software engineers to join this team as our base of products extends from personal lines insurance and our scope of technology platforms expands to mobile development, system communication and integration and data analysis. This team is complemented by outsourced partners in development, testing, CRM, telephony support and infrastructural support.
To determine whether we outsource a requirement simply depends on whether we view the requirement as outside of our core competency as a company.
What are some of the main responsibilities of your own role, and how much of it is spent on deep technical issues compared to the management and business side?
My main responsibilities are:
- To identify and in some cases exploit new technologies to help achieve the goals of the business
- Integrate our existing technologies to improve communication and knowledge of the data we collect
- Create the IT strategy in line with the business goals and to drive this to completion
- Reduce costs and increase revenue
- Enhance the customer relationship and dialogue, especially in cases where we intend to deliver a systems integration in conjunction with the customer’s IT resources
- Manipulate our existing technologies to achieve the goals of the business.
My education and background is in software programming but I find myself spending less and less time on deep-rooted technical challenges as the business grows and much of my focus is concentrated on the strategic decisions, alliances and architectural elements required to deliver the business goals.
Fortunately, in Yihua Zhou, I have an exceptionally talented Software Development Manager supported by a team of bright and focused software engineers and they continue to deliver the solutions the business requires in a commercially pressured environment and I see my role in this to make sure that I clear their path of any obstacles which may prevent them from achieving these goals.
Having said that, I will always be a programmer, so it is not unusual to see me coding from time to time.
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