Consultancy at Liberty IT – bringing the business along on the journey
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Liberty IT Consultants are part of our growing consulting practice in our Emerging Business & Technology space, that works directly with our parent company Liberty Mutual. They bring a broad repertoire of experience, a growth mindset, and a track record of solving real business problems. To find out more about the Consultant role, we had a chat with Brian Craig and Shirley Sutton.
Tell us about your current roles?
Shirley - I’ve been with LIT since October 2003, so almost 17 years! I’m a Consultant with a business and technology focus and I operate as part of our Consulting division which is aligned to the Emerging Business & Technology group in LIT.
I consult directly in the Liberty Mutual business with senior leaders and executives as a strategic advisor, leading consulting engagements with them and their teams. There is variety in my portfolio, but three key focus areas are: Strategy & direction; Innovation & Emerging Technology; and Transformation.
It’s a fast-paced environment that requires a growth mind-set and ability to pivot in the moment, but it’s fabulously rewarding.
Brian – I’ve been with LIT since the late nineties (so even longer than Shirley!) and in my time I have had many different roles – Tester, Developer, Analyst, Manager and now Technical Consultant.
That variety in my career has given me a full picture of being able to build a solution and knowing what different people need to be able to do their job – especially when it comes to working with a developer who needs to take information on board and create understanding for a tester. Managing all of those job families gives you the appreciation of what you need to deliver a solution, understanding a business problem and being able to articulate back how the technology will solve that problem – while also, of course, understanding the commercial aspect and the need to deliver a solution which will either make or save money.
What are you enjoying working on at the moment?
Shirley - I’m consulting directly in the operational business to senior leadership and executives in Global Retail Markets. I’m enjoying this immensely as it gives me opportunity to really impact the operational business from an efficiency and dollar perspective. The use case I’m consulting on is one that’s close to my heart – the use of AI capabilities to gain efficiencies in a specific part of the Insurance value chain. Computer vision, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and much more, are part of this landscape.
Like many organisations there is a lot of opportunity to use technology to gain uplifts – I look at these challenges through the lens of innovation and seek out opportunities to surface value quickly for the business. The innovation pattern I’ve employed in this engagement allows me to spend time in the problem, employing design thinking to open up the landscape of possibility. It’s a truly exciting space!
Brian - Currently I am part of two teams using emerging tech to experiment in the area of document processing, extracting data from documents without the use of optical character recognition.
I’ve always enjoyed the generic concept of solving problems, and in this case it’s the age-old question of ‘what do I do with my documents to be able to get the most value from them at a reasonable price?’ We are seeing newer tech in this space and it’s often open source, which allows us to experiment with different ways of extracting data. It’s great to be able to experiment and see from our results which approach is best.
How important is consultancy in LIT?
Shirley - I believe it’s vital. The need is great and the opportunities to bring value are abundant. Consultancy for me has been a vital part of my role prior to and since joining LIT. The word ‘consultancy’ has probably gone through phases in the industry of either being liked or loathed. From my personal perspective, the act of consulting has just naturally been part of what I do.
My role has the advantage of knowing the contacts and groups that need navigated to be successful and being that trusted strategic advisor with a passion and vested interest in the outcomes. On any given day I could be liaising with legal counsel, vendors, senior business and technology leadership, and many other groups and teams.
Brian - Consultancy is how we define business problems and determine how we will evaluate the options to solve them - if we cannot understand the business problems then we can’t expect to solve them.
The business and technical worlds are both moving quickly which means the world of consultancy is going to grow. The advent of cloud-based services means vendors are demonstrating more sophisticated solutions and we are able to support business partners in determining which are the most suitable.
How do you see these roles developing over the next few years?
Shirley - Formal Consultant positions are relatively new in the organisation; however, the act of consulting has been there within our team for much longer.
Over the next few years, I see this developing further with an expanding practice and network of consultants in the Emerging Business & Technology group, bringing deeper connections and value into the operational business of Liberty Mutual.
Brian – There will be an increased need to ensure we are effectively communicating with the business and assisting them to understand what solutions are available. The insurance business is having to become more and more technical and it’s our role to educate and assist Liberty Mutual on that journey. It isn’t enough for us to do it for them - we’ve got to bring them along on that journey with us.
Has the Covid-19 situation changed the way you work?
Shirley - When Covid-19 first became a problem, we had immediate travel restrictions with business travel halted globally. We are all now working from home and it’s been fantastic the way we have adapted. When the travel restrictions came in, my colleagues and I were due to travel to Chicago the following week for a three day on-site exploratory session with frontline business partners. Within three working days I switched this on-site event into a fully virtual event, creating virtual rooms through Lucid Chart, and we held a completely virtual interactive event for over 20 people. There is a lot we can achieve virtually, when we don’t have the option of doing things in-person.
Brian – I’ve found that the current situation is a great leveler and has provided me even more opportunities to participate in workshops. In fact during the last two months in lockdown I have participated in more workshops than the previous six. Tooling has been critical and LIT has provided several options, allowing me to choose one based on the type of workshop being run.
As ever, there are exciting challenges ahead for business and technology groups as they cultivate their strategies, continue to transform in an ever-changing world, and take advantage of emerging technology to gain efficiency and open up new business. Our team of Consultants are right there with our business on this exciting journey.