I’m happy to report that our recent insurance Community Meeting was a very enjoyable success. The goal of the community is to foster communications between community members, the sharing of ideas and trends and provide feedback to Pega on strategy and direction.
The Community event, held February 27 at our Cambridge, Mass., headquarters, prompted a few enlightening conversations. One attendee even remarked, “That I’m willing to come to Boston in February shows how interested I am in participating.” This inaugural meeting was attended by almost 50 participants from across the country and included three participants from Japan – who also happened to win the “traveled the furthest” award.
The topics of discussion ranged from deeply technical to business specific issues facing the industry today. Some of the common topics that came up during the sessions were the need for growth, how to develop the ability to change quickly, and involving business in the IT process.
It was the last topic that came up during an open discussion session with CEO Alan Trefler that, to me, was the most surprising. In the past, while everyone acknowledged that the core reason for IT even existing was to support business strategy, when it came to actual IT development, planning and execution, business often was not in the room or even represented. There was a very lively discussion between attendees on how not only to involve business in the IT process, but on how to get business active in the sponsorship of IT programs. Getting the ear of senior business leaders, making them understand the impact of IT initiatives and then having them sign up to actively endorse, support and guide these IT initiatives was deemed critical to success. The larger the project, the more important this sponsorship is to the success of a project. Participants exchanged ideas on how they involve senior management within their own organizations, this was the first time I’ve ever seen this topic come up within what was a more technical centric group with such a sense of importance. It was a real signal as to the extent that IT departments are changing their relationships with the groups they support.
A corollary to this discussion was the role that change management plays, especially in large projects that fundamentally change the way people work. In general, people don’t like change and the insurance industry itself is a risk adverse environment to begin with. Successful projects must address the human element when planning for projects that will significantly disrupt peoples’ day to day lives or the risk of failure goes up dramatically. Most participants agreed that the approach of a large vision, supported by small quick wins through rapid deployment was one of the best ways to win people over and help support the change management messaging.
In an effort to shake things up and to encourage mingling between participants, the Insurance Community decided to forgo a formal sit-down dinner for something more casual and entertaining. The event closed out with a night of bowling, where by the amount of laughter and cheers, everyone had a great time.
The Pega Insurance Community will become a yearly event and will be open to all Pega customers. Future events will be driven by the Insurance Community itself, where the venue and agenda will be agreed upon by the Insurance Community Steering Committee, which will also be made up of Pega insurance customers.