Why your team needs to focus on software development – Canadian Underwriter

Organizations that achieve faster digital transformation end up becoming more innovative in the long-term, a speaker said Wednesday at the Future of Insurance Canada 2022 conference, hosted in-person in downtown Toronto by Reuters Events.

Raj Utraja, vice president of technology at Gore Mutual Insurance Company, was referencing a 2020 study by McKinsey & Company that found empowering software developers, creating the right environment for them to innovate and removing points of friction translates into improved business performance.

Industry leaders refer to this capability as “developer velocity,” meaning it’s not just about speed but also unleashing the full potential of software development talent.

Utraja, who was a software developer years ago, said the McKinsey study found organizations in the top quartile of developer velocity outperformed others in the market by 400-to-500%.

“[These are] huge productivity gains [from] organizations that do not focus on development velocity,” Utraja said during the session, Navigating the Employee-Digital Relationship. “So, the organizations that are able to figure out this puzzle of finding the right tool…they outperform the competition.”

The study also found when innovative organizations were overlaid with those that have high developer velocity, there was 55% co-ordination, “which means organizations that are able to do things faster end up becoming more innovative in the long term.”

Raj Utraja, VP of technology at Gore Mutual Insurance Company, speaking at the Future of Insurance Conference 2022

Raj Utraja, VP of technology at Gore Mutual Insurance Company, speaking at the Future of Insurance Conference 2022

But innovation is a very complex puzzle, Utraja said during his presentation. “There are too many options,” he said. “When we talk about developer productivity, when we talk about going into cloud, there are 1,100-plus companies that are working on that, which means organizations would need to pick and choose the right tool.

“Every organization has told us they are not able to get the productivity to the level where we want it to be. That means somewhere in the puzzle, the right tools and technologies are not put in place.”

Utraja also spoke about Gore’s own ‘Next Horizon’ digital transformation journey. Digital transformation “never stops and we just need to be comfortable with that,” he said.

Technology is moving at such a fast pace that it’s very hard for employers to catch up, Utraja said. A major transformation can take three, four or five years.

“The reality is that the technology ecosystem around us has progressed so fast that by the time we finish one major transformation, there is already a gap,” Utraja said. “The gap is the cost of data, the cost of computing the AI and machine learning…and everything else. It’s a continuous cycle, but it’s not a bad cycle, we just need to be aware that this is happening around us.”

So, how does an employer approach digital transformation?

Utraja suggested looking at the roles within an organization and then compare them with the capabilities available in the market that will make it easier for those roles.

“When we look at the roles, we understand what activities are performed by those roles,” he said. “We understand what motivation each member within that team has for that role, [such as] interpersonal, transactional or social.

“Then we can come up with technology solutions that could make those roles more productive. If you’re able to solve that puzzle, then we’re able to unlock the productivity within an organization.”

Feature image by iStock.com/Jay Yuno

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