The Forrester Technology Strategy Impact Award Finalists For North America

When determining Forrester’s Tech Strategy Impact Award finalists, we look for stories of customer-obsessed transformations driven by the technology organization. The companies recognized in this award are executing a future fit technology strategy that enables their company to quickly reconfigure business capabilities to meet future customer and employee demands with adaptivity, creativity, and resilience. The three finalists of the Forrester Technology Strategy Impact Award for 2022 show a laser focus on customer and business outcomes and leverage modern platforms, practices, and partnerships.

In alphabetical order, the three finalists this year are the IT and digital teams of:

  • AIG.
  • Oshkosh Corporation.
  • Verizon Business Group.

Congrats to all the finalists! Each has a compelling story of building future fit technology capabilities. You can read those stories below.

AIG

AIG is a global insurance organization with operations in over 80 countries providing a wide range of insurance products from property and casualty insurance to retirement solutions.

In 2019, AIG kicked off AIG 200: an investment in digitalization to revamp core processes, technology infrastructure, and services. The objectives of the investment were to drive underwriting excellence, improve the client-broker experience, create standardized processes, and reduce operating expenses. The business strategy was to operate with a “Common as Possible, Different as Needed” (CAPDAN) approach to drive consistency and excellence, with a focus on digitizing manual underwriting processes.

AIG is delivering its future fit technology strategy through close integration with the business, with key elements of the business strategy categorized into four building blocks: process and controls; technology enablement; data management strategy; and performance and change management. These building blocks are the foundation of the AIG 200 program and are driving success through:

  • Delivering against business objectives. Every aspect of the business has gone from highly manual, inconsistent processes to standardized processes with a CAPDAN principle. The company’s General Insurance Architecture strategy is focused on functional architectural components that enable digital workflows, common business services, and externalized capabilities such as client/broker portals. Operational efficiencies have led to better controls in managing risk and rating profiles, resulting in strong underwriting results and a significant reduction in loss and expense ratios.
  • Using platforms, practices, and partners to drive alignment. Moving to common processes has put technology enablement at the center of the AIG 200 program. AIG has embraced frameworks that provide “plug-and-play” capabilities and integrations that support the end-to-end programming lifecycle. DevOps has enabled the speedier delivery of improved business value. Partners have also played a key role in delivering successes through customer-centric partnerships with client-broker partners, cloud infrastructure platform providers, consultants, and specific insurtech vendors, all aligned and contributing to creating business value for AIG.
  • Investing in people to create value. AIG’s people strategy is focused on creating a culture of collaboration and creativity. Training programs were developed to focus on growth mindset, upskilling, and reskilling, as well as investment in role-specific training. Continuous investment in people includes driving increased employee engagement through the adoption of digital tools and preparing its workforce for the future of work.

Oshkosh Corporation

Oshkosh Corporation is a manufacturer of specialty trucks and access equipment with a focus on building, protecting, and serving communities across the world.

Back in 2018, the Oshkosh IT department was perceived by business stakeholders as a traditional technology organization responsible for simply supporting business operations. In April 2018, Anu Khare was recruited as Oshkosh’s chief information officer, reporting directly to the CEO. In the following four years, the new CIO and his digital technology (DT) team operated a massive customer-obsessed transformation with a laser focus on improving operating income for the business.

A future fit technology strategy enabled the rapid optimization of core technology, establishment of new digital business capabilities, and improvement of the cybersecurity posture, all while keeping IT investment essentially flat. The company’s future fit technology strategy was initially developed to support and augment the company’s business strategy; now, in many cases, it is the business strategy. For example, Oshkosh’s Advanced Analytics and Digital Manufacturing functions were strategic capabilities started within DT that are now core business strategic initiatives. Here are some highlights from Oshkosh’s submission, with the DT organization emphasizing the following actions:

  • Focusing on business benefits to earn the trust of business stakeholders. Oshkosh’s strategic objective is to grow from an $8 billion to a $12 billion company with 12% or higher operating income margins. The DT team has created a consultative approach in which they build digital solutions together with the business through the ideation of innovation focus areas and co-creating incremental value aligned to the company’s strategic objective. The company’s future fit technology strategy resulted in automation of over 100,000 annual hours of work and enabled over $50M in annual operating income impact through 2021.
  • Leveraging platforms, practices, and partners to accelerate growth. DT leverages modern platforms such as its Data Transformation & Machine Learning platform or Intelligent Automation platform to enable the company to “grow and transform our businesses.” DT is also building out a technology ecosystem of partners (including Auburn University, Carnegie Foundry, and MxD) that are allowing Oshkosh to implement innovative solutions with agility. In terms of modern practices, it implemented technology business management to drive greater accountability and ownership of technology service/product costs, value, and solution delivery. DT also transitioned its portfolio management process and structure from a traditional IT system modernization project management focus to a business value-focused investment process that proactively looks to optimize the company’s investment in IT.
  • Investing in people to foster a healthy, diverse, and adaptive workforce. The DT team instilled a culture that is business value-focused, that embraces collaboration, and that truly puts people first. The team has developed a competency model that is communicated, educated throughout the company, and celebrated, called C.A.R.E. (Customer obsession, Agility, Results-oriented, Entrepreneurship). The competency model effectively summarizes what the team stands for and what it aspires to be better at. In addition, DT is continuously evolving its organization with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion to foster an environment and culture that encourages diverse perspectives and empowers team members. Over the past few years, DT successfully hired over 35 diverse team members with emerging skill sets.

Verizon Business Group

The Verizon Business Group has been on a multiyear transformation journey to make it easier and more efficient for customers to conduct business with the company. The organization was created in 2019 from the previous wireless and wireline structure, and it immediately began building a digital service. It had never previously sold devices or broadband on digital out of concern for the high risk of fraudulent transactions. In 2020, Verizon Business Group tackled this challenge, making significant capital investments. Within four months, it launched a digital solution that allowed new business customers to purchase wireless devices online after a sales team spoke with the customer and verified the validity of the transaction. Over the next year, the digital team fully automated the process for onboarding a new customer, including the fraud mitigation steps to verify a customer’s identity and credit standing.

By July ’21, Verizon Business Group had achieved a 100% digital journey. Today, it uses media to drive traffic to the e-commerce site as well as operating in an omnichannel mode, taking sales fall-off from stores and following up with a digital quote, email to customer, and single click to e-commerce — and store sales personnel get paid. The digital capability includes funnel optimization and is machine-learning-powered for personalization based on what actions best convert into sales and how the offering meets customers’ desires. Some highlights from Verizon Business Group’s transformation story include:

  • Enabling the wireless e-commerce experience to provide accelerating growth. Success is being measured by gross additional sales, the digital mix of these sales, and the revenue per usage (which is 25% higher coming through digital). Growth rates are 3–4 times year over year — and are expected to be 5–6 times by ’26, with about 25% of volume being fully digital by that date. The model’s success is transformational, and more use cases are moving into the model, already with a six-month backlog. The new customers that sign up online are acquired at a much lower cost, generate higher average revenue per user, are more digitally active for ongoing sales and service needs, and churn less. The net impact is a much higher EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) impact.
  • Building a technology strategy that is defined through Verizon Business Group’s North Star architecture. This architecture outlines a roadmap of channel consolidation to ensure that systems and solutions are working together to provide the best customer experience. The business strategy drives changes to business capabilities, and these are broken down into the IT capabilities. The North Star architecture also includes a purpose-driven strategy for technology platforms. Platforms begin with a strong roadmap and outlook, focusing on functions like digital experience, the mobile app, conversation AI, and digital content management. The North Star architecture was a thought that partners helped to develop. Product vendors, integration partners, and Verizon form three arms of a well-oiled machine geared toward both technology and business strategies. These partners are treated as Verizon Business Group employees, participating in architecture definition, product selection, and tech strategy development.
  • Committing to fostering inclusive learning. The firm focuses on diversity in both employees and suppliers, and it is committed to helping its people learn and grow at the speed of technology. Verizon Business Systems sees the full potential of every person as making the whole network, and all those who touch it, better. As part of this, the firm offers internship and apprenticeship programs, which help advance undergraduate, graduate, and socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals into technology fields through educational, environmental, and social advancement.

Join us September 29–30, 2022, for Technology & Innovation North America!

What’s next? We will announce the Tech Strategy Impact Award winner for North America during Forrester’s Technology & Innovation North America Forum, taking place September 29–30, both in person in Austin and virtually as a digital experience. Stay tuned!

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