Rob Craig is chief operating officer at icare, an organisation formed in 2015 to create new ways to deliver insurance and care services to employers and their staff. He is the central leader in a market disruptor that protects 3.4 million workers and $190 billion of the state’s assets. It also provides $2 billion in benefits to injured workers.
A key innovation at icare in 2016 was its nominal insurer integrated platform (NISP), which has underpinned radical transformation in icare and the wider workers compensation system in NSW. The cloud-based system supports 285,000 staff and more than 80,000 injured workers a year and has provided a new way for customers to interact with statutory insurance products, providing internal insights and data analytics capabilities to target pockets of claims to new interfaces to simplify the customer experience.
Craig is responsible for the project’s vision, delivery and ongoing IT operation. During the first stage of the rollout, Craig and his team created a new front and back end system which enables employers in NSW to obtain a quote, purchase and renew their workers compensation policies directly with icare as opposed to third party scheme agents – a first in NSW.
“I was the champion of the customer throughout the entire design and build phase – the idea was to provide a simple easy-to-use channel to purchase or renew policies, anywhere and at any time,” says Craig.
“Importantly, I identified throughout the design phase that the project went beyond an IT solution and focused the team’s attention squarely on customer needs. With this goal, the team not only implemented an IT platform but created an entire end-to-end multi-channel service, including a new customer support centre and a significantly simplified process for customers,” he says.
In addition to the challenges of building the NISP, Craig and the project team negotiated and managed the transition of data from 285,000 employees from five existing schema agents on disparate systems. They also identified and solved capability gaps within icare to manage the new service, led the communication with internal and external stakeholders while keeping the project on time and budget.
Cultural shift to put the customer first
A key component of the NISP rollout was the cultural shift required within icare to deliver on its objectives, largely by putting the customer first, Craig says.
“With the predecessor of icare (NSW Work Cover) designed to operate solely through third party providers, direct interaction with customers was not in the DNA of employees who had been part of the previous organisation.
“I was central not only in driving the customer-led solution but also inspiring employees to think and behave with customers along with icare’s new values – integrity, courage, accountability, respect and empathy,” he says.
The end result was multi-channel tools that provided direct access for employers to renew or buy a new policy; direct access to icare’s support centre and underwriting team; as well as the ability for employers to manage a policy online using claims and policy data.
Launched in April, the success of the program was evident almost immediately with more than 1,000 new businesses switching to the online system every day. They are now bypassing brokers or other third parties, says Craig.
The project was further enhanced in the months following its introduction by providing employers with new access to sophisticated functionality like the option to gain insights into their performance and the support they need to achieve a genuinely safer workplace, he says.
Innovation at 'The Hothouse'
The rollout of ‘The Hothouse’, where technology-driven solutions are created for the most severely injured; invisible payments platforms; and virtual reality capabilities are the latest innovations at icare. They have been created using human centered design (HCD) programs that were led by Craig.
“HCD has underpinned every approach to technology and overall decision making across the business since its inception,” he says. “More than 400 senior leaders and employees have concluded an introductory or leadership program in HCD in just three months of its introduction. The course involves immersive sessions with customers to help define the real problem and therefore the appropriate solution whether it be technology or otherwise,” he says.
A recent example is the approach to the new Home Builders Warranty business portal, says Craig. The portal gives builders real time access to their insurance policy details, the ability to get quotes online, to lodge and track a new policy application, and have visibility of their own risk profile.
“From the beginning, we held workshops with members of the building industry to get customer feedback on its design, ease-of-use and functionality. As a member if the project steering committee, I was key embedding HCD thinking throughout the project,” says Craig.
A key challenge was the required cultural shift within icare to provide services through a digital portal rather than previous heavy reliance on more than 100 different broker firms. With the customer at the design table from the beginning and employees hearing their needs first hand throughout the process, it refocused their thinking and energy towards meeting the customer outcome,” he says.
Craig also played a pivotal role in securing $1.1 million in funding for an e-health trial with the Hunter Institute of Mental Health (HIMH) to address the gap in health support services for small business owners and their employees. With icare’s help, researchers at HIMH and the University of Newcastle are trying to understand the scale of the problem, says Craig.
“With lack of available data and the potential vast resources required to provide adequate service to the entire sector, honing in on a particular region and partnering with the university will provide the insights we need to scale the solution,” he says.
Lastly, Craig is leading the design and build of the icare 'Imaginarium', a showcase of the latest health, home modification, and artificial intelligence technologies and how they can be applied when dealing with someone who is injured at work.
"The space in Parramatta and Sydney is where to experience our strategy and roadmap in an interactive and engaging way," he says. "People will be able to hear stories from our customers and better understand where we've come from, where we are going and how we plan to get there. In Sydney, we'll have a design space where we can bring customers to discover, co-design and help solve their needs."
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.