Electronic Chat: Tricia Blair
Robert Regis Hyle | June 05, 2014
The Electronic Chat is a regular feature of ITA Pro magazine and ITApro.org. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader looking for thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
This issue we chat with Tricia S. Blair, senior vice president, chief digital officer and head of enterprise IT services for Lincoln Financial Group and a member of the advisory board for the Insurance Technology Association. She is responsible for the digital strategy, technology and implementation for the corporation, its core life insurance, annuities, retirement plans, and group benefits businesses, and both the wholesale and retail distribution organizations.
In addition to leading Lincoln Financials web, mobile, and social media strategies, Blair is also responsible for enterprise architecture, business architecture, corporate enterprise systems and portal management, as well as the IT project management office and quality assurance center initiatives.
Blair has more than 25 years of marketing, technology, and digital experience, with a focus on strategic business growth, multi-channel marketing, integration of large-scale business and technology platforms, and high-value business transformations.
Prior to joining Lincoln Financial, Blair was senior vice president for the Retail Portfolio Marketing group of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Her previous experience also includes leadership roles with MasterCard International and Mondial Assistance, an Allianz Group company. A veteran of the dot-com space, Blair has provided consulting services to companies including Priceline, TJX Companies, Sears Canada, Motorola, Gillette, and Starbucks.
A graduate of San Francisco State University, Blair also has a degree in design from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She resides in Dolington Village, Pa. She also teaches website development at various local community colleges and is an active volunteer with the New Jersey Adult Literacy Program.
What is the biggest leadership challenge you face in IT and how are you dealing with it?
BLAIR: Right now, I’d say our biggest challenge involves talent recruitment and retention. Our leadership team is very focused on this, and we’re piloting new ways to draw talent. We have created an internship program based on our relationships with universities. We’re also using a targeted approached to this issue, creating workgroups and teams among our existing employees to help them feel more connected to what’s going on in our business.
Which technologies do you feel are under-used in the insurance industry today?
BLAIR: At this point, I think data management and data visualization tools are the most under-used tools/technology in the industry today.
What steps is your company taking to attract and prepare young IT workers for a career in insurance IT?
BLAIR: This goes back to our recruitment and retention efforts. We’ve developed relationships with universities to help attract talent through internships, and we’ve also created programs to help prepare employees to tackle the challenges of IT in our business. We’ve created a Leadership Preparation Program to educate younger workers on various aspects of our business and our industry—not just IT—so they get a more holistic picture of what we do and how IT supports and drives the business.
Are you satisfied with the connection between the business side and IT? If not, what steps are being taken to improve this?
BLAIR: It’s difficult to be satisfied. I think there’s always something you can do to improve the connection between IT and your business partners. We’re looking at business engagement approaches and measuring ourselves and our capabilities. The significant measurement there is how we’re driving business value, and then we’ll take that analysis and figure out what we can do to improve it.
What is your greatest worry when you put your head on a pillow at night?
BLAIR: Not moving fast enough to deal with the disruption that mobile technology has on our business—and all business—and what we’re doing to accommodate and integrate mobile. I question how we’re preparing IT to deal with business technology, because today’s model is “Bring Your Own Device,” and we have to change what IT does in a legacy systems environment.
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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
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