On 19 April 2012 during CIO CITY, European Commissioner Neelie Kroes will hand out the European CIO of the Year Awards 2012. Sverre Rosèn, CIO of Storebrand is one of the 13 nominees. Check out his profile below.
In the autumn of 2006, Sverre joined Storebrand, the Nordic region’s leading provider of life insurance and pensions. The Storebrand Group, with roots back to 1767, had prospered for many years in a regulatory environment that favored established players. But as Sverre joined the company, he realized that the industry was experiencing a dramatic increase in competitive intensity. Extensive reforms and regulatory changes introduced a host of attackers that challenged Storebrands traditional products and service offering.
IT was soon regarded as a bottleneck. The regulatory changes required massive system updates, and the competition created a push towards doing business through direct channels at a significantly lower cost. “No matter how hard IT tried, too many projects finished over budget, or worse still, did not finish at all”, says Sverre. “System stability was deteriorating as a result of the high pace, causing employees to despair, and dissatisfied customers to leave.”
Sverre soon concluded that it was impossible to achieve bold visions in a single year. Instead, IT management created a strategy with three distinct phases, each lasting 2-3 years. “First, we decided to fix the foundations of IT”, explains Sverre. “We had to get out of a state of firefighting and win back the respect of the business. We immediately set out on a mission to build a healthy IT, capable of executing our long-term change agenda.” Over the next two years, IT stabilized their systems, industrialized core processes, developed talent, clarified responsibilities and created a strategic roadmap.
“Second, we focused on modernizing our solutions. They had to be cheaper to maintain, easier to change, and above all, ensure better customer experience.” As a result, all legacy CRM systems were replaced with one modern CRM solution, giving the business a single, integrated view on all customers. All individual products were made available for purchase on the web. When it came to the core insurance solutions, Sverre disregarded prevailing wisdom that the self-developed solution was too obsolete. Sverre opted for a path of modernization, instead of a replacement, having observed catastrophic attempts elsewhere in the industry. “The consolidation our core insurance systems is probably our finest hour. It certainly demonstrated the will and the skills of the organization.”
“Third, we now aspire to make IT a source of innovation and growth. We want to build distinct capabilities to make us significantly better than the competition in strategic areas,” concludes Sverre excitedly.
Sverre Rosén has a background in Computer Science (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). He has worked as a consultant at McKinsey and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, and has worked both as an independent consultant, as well as being CTO on the team that founded Zalaris, a leading provider of HR services in the Nordics. Outside the office, he enjoys being with his wife and three small children, as well as running, cycling and reading. Sverre was elected Norwegian CIO of the Year 2011.