Published on November 9, 2023, 6:24 am
The chief technology officer (CTO) plays a crucial role in shaping an organization’s technology-driven engagement strategy. According to Andrew Weaver, co-founder and CEO of CTO Academy, the CTO position involves various responsibilities such as defining business goals, corporate strategy, managing teams, developing a technical vision, and overseeing enterprise systems. One of the primary responsibilities of a CTO is aligning the technical strategy with broader business objectives.
Biswa Prakash Misra, the group chief technology and life operations officer at AIA, shared his insights on being a CTO for AIA. AIA is a leading life insurance, health, and wellness provider that operates numerous systems across its 18 markets. In his role, Misra ensures that these systems are modern, digitalized, and working seamlessly to provide services to consumers, agents, distributors, employees, and media services. In essence, he oversees all technology-related aspects of the company.
As the Group CTO and Group Chief Life Operations Officer (CLO), Misra’s responsibilities extend beyond technology. He is responsible for setting the group strategy and ensuring that each market moves in the right direction. While individual markets have some freedom in executing strategies based on their local needs and preferences, there are overall guardrails set by the group. This approach allows for economies of scale while giving markets flexibility in utilizing shared or local services.
Legacy systems are a challenge for most financial institutions including AIA. To address this issue, AIA implemented an End-of-Life (EOL) strategy through their Transformation, Digital and Analytics (TDA) program. The goal is to shift towards cloud adoption while reducing legacy systems to less than 5%. With a focus on cloud solutions, it becomes increasingly difficult to accommodate legacy systems since they do not align with modern technological infrastructure.
Planning for technology direction and strategy can be complex due to rapid changes in technology itself. At AIA, they have transitioned to a three-year planning cycle that aligns technology with evolving enterprise needs. The strategy involves assessing the current starting point and planning the journey towards the desired endpoint. Misra emphasizes supplementing areas of the business with emerging technologies that are relevant and can provide long-term value.
When it comes to investing in new technology, AIA prioritizes proven solutions such as cloud computing. Given the highly regulated nature of the insurance industry, AIA informs regulators about their plans at an early stage. While experimentation is essential for innovation, capital-intensive tests are less necessary in the current tech landscape. For example, companies are willing to partner and iterate with developers in experimental areas like the metaverse.
The role of a CTO is critical in driving technological advancements and aligning them with business goals. With a deep understanding of technology and its potential impact on an organization, CTOs like Misra play a crucial role in shaping strategies, overseeing operations, and ensuring successful implementation of technology initiatives.
In conclusion, being a CTO requires a multifaceted skill set that includes technical expertise, leadership abilities, strategic thinking, and the ability to adapt to rapidly evolving technology landscapes. As organizations increasingly rely on technology-driven solutions, the role of CTOs becomes even more vital in charting innovative courses that enable growth and success.