The Future of Insurance Podcast – Jim Fowler

CTO, Nationwide

Season 3, Episode 11, August 16, 2022

Guest Bio

Jim Fowler is Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Nationwide. In this role, he is responsible for the company’s technology strategy, IT capabilities and business transformation programs.

Prior to joining Nationwide in 2018, Jim was Chief Information Officer for General Electric, where he led the company’s global information technology strategy, services, operations and internal digital transformation program. Prior to his 18-year career at GE, he held IT roles with NCR and Accenture.

Jim holds a bachelor of science degree in management information systems and marketing from Miami University and a master of business administration degree from Xavier University. He is also a certified Six Sigma Black Belt.

Jim serves as a national board member for YearUp, on the business school advisory board at Miami University, on the Columbus State Community College board of trustees and on the Columbus Collaboratory board of managers. He is well recognized for his results-oriented leadership style and his ability to drive innovation—and was recently recognized by Forbes with the CIO Innovation Award.

Highlights from the Show

  • Jim came to Nationwide after 18 years at GE, where he was most recently CIO, and was not interested in a role in insurance when he was approached about Nationwide
  • He was swayed when he learned how forward-thinking the company was
  • When interviewing, Jim learned about how the company has always been innovative, including using projected slide shows in client presentations in the 1900s before mixed media and AV was even considered for things like that
  • Jim identified three reasons why Nationwide has been highly innovative despite its size and complexity
    • Leadership that is willing to disrupt what they’ve done to protect their relevance in the future, regardless of how long they’ve done it for or how successful they may have been before
    • Mutuality helps them make decisions that protect their members into the future
    • Technology is about becoming the preferred partner for customers and intermediaries, giving people the space to focus on people
  • They’ve been able to move faster on innovative ideas because of how they structure innovation
    • The team has dual-reporting to Jim and their Chief Strategy Officer
    • They incubate ideas within the innovation team to try the idea free of the constraints of the bigger business and make a go-no-go decision after giving something a real try
    • If it passes the initial test, then they can move it to the business at large
  • That is, innovation is thought of as incubation
  • Jim sees a future where insurance will be more personalized for each customer, given data they give you permission to use to serve them
  • Regulators want us to figure this out, we just need to show them how this benefits consumers
  • He also sees a shift to coverage being fluid across people’s lives , with more telematics-driven options in various coverages rather than seeing Auto separate from Life from Home, etc

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