PegaWorld: Customer Panel on Building for Change

Abbie Lundberg, editor-in-chief of CIO magazine, chaired a panel on what it means to “build for change”, including Carol Rizzo (CTO at Kaiser Permanente), Tom Vicknair (SVP of centralized transactions operations payment strategy at JPMorganChase) and Carole Berndt (managing director, global head of client delivery at Citi). It’s great to have a panel that is 75% women at a BPM conference, where usually the best part of the gender split is that there’s no lineup in the women’s restroom.

It started with each of the panelist giving a brief overview of their business and the challenges that they are facing (that can presumably be solved, at least in part, with BPM). Vicknair got a big laugh when he drawled “we’re expanding…the government’s helping us”, but also pointed out that they’re the biggest payment transfer processor in the US because they have a 97% straight-through rate and are constantly looking at how they can reduce that remaining 3% using tools like Pega. Rizzo’s challenges are focused on government regulations in the health care industry and the integration of new biomedical devices onto their network while dealing with a widely varying base of constituents; Berndt’s are about the globalization of their business in providing service to multinational clients.

Despite the differences in their types of businesses, all are facing increasing demand to partner with their customers, providing them with better access to information and system; that level of transparency also requires agility to meet ever-changing customer needs. They all rank customer-centricity as their #1 priority, especially in an economic downturn since it’s even more critical to keep all those customers happy (even if they’re not as wealthy as they used to be).

Berndt sees room for improvement in Citi’s agility, and that the biggest hurdle is the organizational change required to get the various silos to collaborate around improving the customer experience. She also discussed the problems with moving a large number of divisions onto the same technology platform, which meant that some people end up with less functionality than before the conversion, and how they had to focus on the people/culture as well as the processes. JPMorganChase is also sold on the idea of one system for any given function, which has been an issue over the years of mergers and acquisitions as they moved from 3 down to 1 deposit system.

Rizzo says that although Kaiser Permanente is top in the processes and systems used by hospitals and doctors for diagnosis and treatment, they are working to improve the processes around health plans. Also a product of some mergers and acquisitions, they see different processes across different regions, making it more challenging to support with a single technology platform.

In response to a question about how budgets are tightening in these economic times, Vicknair pointed out that they have a $7B budget for IT and operations, and they’re going to spend it one way or another, so it’s best to push on with the BPM projects that can make a big difference in their agility.

As always, it’s difficult to blog about a panel since the conversation meanders around quite a bit. Lundberg did a good wrap-up at the end, with the focus mostly on people issues, including getting executive buy-in.

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