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Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson

Based in the burgeoning insurtech hub of Columbia, S.C., Avolanta is a privately held insurance computer software company, co-founded by Chuck Wilson and Gavin Dean. The company’s scalable, cloud-based Customer Engagement Platform, anchored by data analytics, enables insurers to provide a high-quality customer experience to both policyholders and agents. The system can be integrated with key administration applications, customer relationship management solutions, and contact center products. 

Please tell us a little about your professional background and how you came to co-found your current company.

I have an insurance technology background starting as a developer, leading product teams, and founding an insurance-focused software company. Our co-founder has an insurance operations background leading sales and service organizations for several large insurance companies. Together, from our unique perspectives, we saw an opportunity to start a company to address inconsistencies we witnessed in the insurance journey, specifically around sales and servicing.

Your background appears to be primarily in tech. What made you decide to specialize in insurance technology?

My specialization in insurance has been largely circumstantial. I started out of college as a software developer for a large insurance software company. Through that experience, I was exposed to challenges insurance organizations face and developed an interest in helping solve those problems.

As we were thinking about starting a new company, one problem we observed was that insurance organizations would consistently acknowledge that the customer experience they provide lags behind other industries. However, due to competing priorities and the amount of effort involved, these initiatives rarely gained traction. We felt that if we were able to provide an "easy button" to address these gaps, we would be able to enable the experience insurance organizations wanted and customers expect.

What special challenges does the insurance industry face that differ from other industries?

From the highest level, I am not sure insurance differs much from other industries. Each face their own challenges with regulations, competitive disruption, product development, delivery, and satisfying customer expectations. Possibly due to competing priorities, we have found that the customer experience provided by insurance companies regularly falls short, especially compared to the expectations set by other industries.

How has customer demand driven the growth of the insurtech field, and how do you see it evolving over the next decade?

From our experience, insurance organizations have traditionally been very inward focused when it comes to applying technology to solve problems. Driven by other industries, insurers are starting to prioritize initiatives that expand past their core insurance ecosystem partners towards the consumer.  As disrupters continue to enter the market and gain traction, insurance companies will be forced to evolve, opening the door for companies like ours to enhance their ability to respond to the challenges.

What specific technology tools set your product apart from other insurance CX platforms?

We believe our experience and ability to enhance and provide consistency throughout all aspects of the customer journey -- from selling a policy, handling service requests, and managing ongoing interactions -- is unique in the industry.

From a technology standpoint, our SaaS platform is built using a microservice architecture, is accessible via a rich RESTful API, and utilizes data analytics and machine learning to provide an extremely scalable and extensible solution designed to interoperate with the existing infrastructure of an insurance organization.

How do you plan on growing your business over the next several years?

Our growth is directly related to our ability to meet the challenges faced by insurers and deliver compelling technology with exceptional service.

What do you like about being based in Columbia, South Carolina?

Columbia is arguably the birthplace of insurance technology. As a result, there are many resources that companies like ours can tap into.  It is easy for us to find individuals with insurance business or technology expertise which is extremely attractive to us as we continue to grow.

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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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