From C-Suite Engagement to GenAI, Ascot’s Owen Williams Shares His Holistic Approach to Digital Transformation

Owen Williams, chief information officer for Ascot U.S., sees strong data governance as critical to driving technology initiatives forward in the insurance industry.
By: | November 13, 2023

As insurance carriers strive to keep pace with the evolving needs of their insureds, a certain level of technological transformation is par for the course. And at specialty insurer Ascot Group, Owen Williams said, the journey to modernize the group’s offerings is an ongoing process.

In his first year as chief information officer for Ascot U.S. and the interim group chief information officer at Ascot Group, Williams’ focus has been on ensuring that the group is well positioned for the future while also delivering strong results in the present.

But as in any rapid transformation, obstacles can arise.

“One significant challenge we faced early on was prioritizing key programs and aligning them with our business goals and objectives,” he said. “Fortunately, our business leadership is very involved in our strategy and provides ongoing support and insight.

“Right now, we are focusing on building institutional capability to execute complex programs by strengthening the program management office, business case development and vendor management,” he added.

To continue improving data, pricing and claims capabilities, Williams said, his team also plans to maximize the insights available in the group’s comprehensive
data warehouse.

“While it can be challenging to determine how best to interpret and apply the vast amount of data available, there are techniques that can be used to improve data accuracy, pricing models and claims processing,” he noted. “A strong data governance framework can also ensure data integrity.”

Looking to the future, Williams sees his team exploring the possibilities of generative AI in addition to refining their data analytics capabilities.

“It is evident that this technology will revolutionize the way businesses operate in the future,” he said, adding that “the two areas where it is expected to have the most significant impact are organizational productivity, and underwriting and claims assistance.”

And he’s preparing to make the most of this growing opportunity, he noted, “by hiring top talent, developing an AI roadmap and engaging in pilots to test and prove our ideas.”

To safely capitalize on what AI can offer, Williams said, dedicated involvement from top leadership is critical in any organization.

“The governance and prioritization process are crucial,” he said.

“Senior executives must be involved and engaged to drive key technology initiatives forward.”

Thankfully, as he said, his colleagues in Ascot’s top leadership are fully engaged.

To continue fortifying Ascot’s IT infrastructure, Williams will draw from his former C-suite experiences, where he found that building strong core systems, implementing a data strategy and nurturing talent were fundamental to success.

“When this process works well, it aligns technology investment with business strategy and priorities,” he added. “However, when it fails, technology investment becomes misaligned and does not support business objectives.”

Williams underscored the importance of the talent acquisition aspect of his winning equation.

“The technology business relies heavily on people and relationships,” he said. “With motivated and engaged employees, the technology function can deliver on its promises and commitments.” &

Owen Williams has been selected as a 2024 Risk & Insurance® Executive to Watch. To see the other executives selected this year, visit here.

Raquel Moreno is a staff writer with Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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