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April 18, 2024 30 mins
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(00:01):
Welcome to Pulse of the Region,brought to you by the Metro Hertford Alliance.
The Metro Hertford Alliance collaborates with investorsand partners to elevate the Hertford region
through economic development work, convening thecommunity and providing chamber support for the City
of Hartford. Learn more about theirmission and how to get involved at Metrohartford
dot com. Pulse of the Regionis produced in partnership with oak Hill.

(00:23):
Oak Hill was originally founded as aschool for the blind in eighteen ninety three.
Oak Hill has provided holistic, personcentered services for individuals with disabilities for
over one hundred and thirty years.With empowerment and independence as its guiding principles.
Oakhill works in partnership with the individualsit serves to provide residential education and

(00:44):
enrichment opportunities. Learn more at oakhillctdot org. Now here's your host for
Pulse of the Region, Kate Bawman. Hello, Hello, and welcome to
Pulse of the Region, the showwhere we highlight a lot of the innovation
happening here throughout the Greater Hertford regionand really all the wonderful things that are
happening here. I'm your host,Kate Bauman here today in the iHeartMedia Studios

(01:07):
with our guests. They're smiling atme. It's a great day. It's
sunny here, beautiful day here inthe capital city, and today we are
getting the pulse about digital transformations andhow companies are innovating and building up their
workforce to meet their customers' demands.With that intro, there's a lot to
talk about here today. So I'mvery grateful to have our two guests here
today from two of our incredible partnerorganizations of the Metro Hertford Alliance. We

(01:30):
have Cognizant and Voya here in thestudio here with us today. First from
Cognizant, she is the vice presidentand chief Technology Officer and innovation leader for
Banking, financial Services and Insurance.We welcome Susan Ricard to Pulse of the
Region. Welcome Susan. Thank you. It's great to be here. It's
great to have you. And Ihave to say I think, goodness.
I don't have to say your titletwice? My goodness. How do you

(01:52):
do? This is your business card? How large is your business card?
Yeah? Sorry, there we go, We'll do that going forward in the
convoes. Fantastic, so happy tohave you here and next to you joining
us from Voya, he is theirsenior vice president and chief Information security Officer,
Marino Monti. So Marina, welcome, Marino met welcome to the show.

(02:13):
Thank you, nice to be here, great to have you and you
know, a lot to talk abouthere today, but first things first,
love to do some introductions about bothof you, and I think probably a
reminder about both of your organizations again, have such a great footprint here within
the state of Connecticut. So Sue, we'll put you on the hot seat
first if you don't mind, andtelling us about Cognizant. Sure. So,
Cognizant is a technology and services firmand we have you know, around

(02:38):
three hundred and fifty thousand employees.It's a very large firm. We do
a lot of work. But asfar as my role within the organization,
as I mentioned, you mentioned onthe CTO for Banking, financial Services and
Insurance, and I lead a teamof enterprise architects where we work on strategy
with strategy with our clients. Ialso lead the Insurance in lab and the

(03:01):
Banking Financial Services Innovation Lab and inour innovation lab. We do a lot
of innovation out in the industry,but with our partners, but also with
our clients. Okay, so wedo a lot of work. In addition
to that, we will support deliveryyou know, at times with our clients.
If it's a very complex engagement.The enterprise architects on my team would

(03:23):
engage that way as well. Okay, very nice, very good. We'll
definitely dive more into that. Butfirst, Marino Voya certainly another great company
here in our state of Connecticut.If you could talk a little bit about
Voya, sure like to. Sowe're at health, wealth and investment management
company. We serve fifteen million customerspartners throughout the country. We look at

(03:50):
for one K life disability, healthdisability supplemental benefits, and we're a global
investment management firm as well. Okay, So with my role at BOYA,
I'm newly chief Information Security Officer.Along with that manage our cloud and our
business resiliency office. Okay, soyou know, really boring day to day,
I'm sure too much going on?Yeah, not much at all,

(04:14):
perfect, And do you guys eachmind talking a little bit on just kind
of what does the presence look likehere kind of number of employees here in
the state of Connecticut. So whatis cognisance footprint really looking like today?
So Cognisant has over three thousand associatesin the metro Hertford area, with over
fifteen hundred associates aligned to the insurancepractice that are living in the Hertford area.
Fantastic, And we work very closelywith all of the insurance companies in

(04:40):
this area and also throughout the UnitedStates. Okay, perfect. I would
say a lot of partners and alot of partnerships here too, I know,
with Travelers Championship and you know,supporting a lot of community efforts here
for sure, definitely. And whatabout Hooya? What Isvoya looking like these
days? Boy? In the Connecticutarea about fourteen hundred employees nice and global

(05:00):
around nine thousand. So it's abig footprint for us. I was going
to say the area, yes,Okay, fantastic, All right, digital
transformations, I feel like we neednine hours and it's just based on what
I had to prep for. Butso is Sue kind of first off,
if you don't mind it, kindof high level, just really defining kind
of what is digital transformation for acompany or an organization. Yeah, I'll

(05:24):
start and then you know, Marinoif you can chime in as well.
So digital transformation really starts to puttechnology at the center and core of a
company's business to advance products, strategies, but also by reducing operating expenses and
efficiencies. And so when we thinkabout how the whole world has gone digital,

(05:46):
these expectations carry over when you're engagingwith your insurance companies. Definitely,
they you know, clients and customers, they want that same experience. And
in the past, the insurance industryhas been somewhat slow to adopt new technologies,
okay, but we're definitely seeing achange there. So one thing I
would say also is that about digitaltransformation, it's not just about customers and

(06:11):
business partners. A lot of theinsurance companies are really targeting employees, right.
We want to make the employees jobeasier. We're looking to make sure
that you know, repetitive manual tasksare you know, replaced through automation,
and are moving the employees more towardshigher value work. Okay, makes them

(06:36):
more productive, but by making themmore productive, it's also creating a better
experience, not just for the employee, but also for customers and business partners
as well. Okay, fantastic,And that's on the customer side. I
think, you know, all ofus. I guess I'm included in this
very demanding I think in a goodway, right, I hopefully like to
think that. And you know,so really, Marino, in today's environment,

(06:59):
you know, with people expecting morewith products and technology, and you
know, easy press of the buttonis really kind of what our organizations kind
of feeling on their end, youknow, and really, how are they
able to respond to this? Yeah, I think it's so important. Right.
One of the things that we've kindof embraced as a philosophy is customer
first, Right, Everything we doshould aligned. So there's a lot of

(07:20):
new technologies that will that fill inkind of what that digital transformation landscape looks
like. But ultimately, if we'renot driving towards a customer outcome, we
really need to kind of rethink whatwe're going after. And I think it's
so important. I actually read astudy even this morning in terms of financial

(07:41):
planning for retirement. One of thebiggest worries and has increased year over year
even from last year to this year, is one of the things that people
are worried about most okay, andpart of that if you think about,
like what's the drivers underneath that.In years past, pensions and other things
kind of took care of people's retirement. Now what's shifting is each of us

(08:03):
as employees are more and more responsiblefor some of that, right, And
that's where some of the tools andthe technology come into place. So your
question what we're doing is we're providinginformation, serving it up so as employees
we can make better informed decisions.And if you think about your early career
to late career, those decisions change, right, right, how much you

(08:24):
contribute to a four to one K, what you think about your supplemental benefits,
how you use that to say allchanges. How we look at it
is what technology can we help withserve up to our employees to do that,
So that's always changing. I'm surewe'll touch a little bit on AI
and data and analytics. All ofthat plays into how do we help our

(08:48):
customers make those decisions. M No, that's great because certainly you know,
none of us are many of usare not experts in that field. So
certainly having that technology and Susan Idon't know anything else you want to add
in there, just as you're seeingfrom companies and how they're responding to these
changing demands and changing needs from customers. So I would say the top three
things are one, the most successfulcompanies are driving business led transformation, not

(09:13):
technology lad. I think that acouple of years back, and this is
definitely something that's been changing, probablyin the last eighteen to twenty four months,
is shifting to really make sure thatas you're transforming, you're starting with
the business and the business needs andyour business strategies, not getting enamored with
new technology, right. So thatis certainly what the most successful companies are

(09:37):
doing. I would say another areais leveraging the cloud to have access to
modern technologies is key, yes,but you also have to make that move
to the cloud very successful, right, so that you have a good foundation
platform to work from. And thenI would say the last thing that we're
seeing, and I would say isthis is something that is very much trending,

(10:00):
is bringing insurance to the forefront inthe area of innovation. Where I
would say that innovation and I've leda lot of innovation engagements in my career,
but what's happening now is what weused to do is have like a
specialized team that would be off maybeto the side looking at new technologies and

(10:24):
then maybe doing readouts to others.What we're seeing now is that we're bringing
innovation as part of the day today on how you move your transformation forward.
And I am seeing this as avery big shift, especially when we
start to look at some of thenewer technologies. Jen Ai obviously is on
the forefront of every organization and havinggreat use cases for that technology, but

(10:52):
you really need to make sure thatyou're proving out the accuracy of the results
right so that it's viable to actuallyimplement into a production environment and use with
your clients and customers. So Iwould say that, you know, that's
a key area where we're doing alot of prototyping very quickly to make sure
that the tech is actually achieving theresults that are required to move forward with

(11:18):
it. So we're definitely seeing ashift in the area of innovation. Okay,
that's great, and I don't know, Marino, anything you want to
add on on to that. Ithink, Sue Hited, I do think
the ability to kind of test andprove out a solution is different than it
was before. Right cloud Jenai certainlyallows us to do that before making large

(11:39):
investments and going too far down rightand making sure that we are meeting those
customer needs. The other thing too, especially around Jenai, is making sure
there's governance around it. There's alot of discussions how do we think about
it, how do we deploy it? You know, do we do it
responsibly? I think doing it ina more agile way and consuming it as

(12:01):
you need it allows us to dothat as well. Definitely, and kind
of as we're talking all this transitionand you know it kind of changes innovation.
I think that's probably going to beour word of the day here to
you know, for this conversation iswe look at the workforce and certainly that
workforce is shifting and you know,kind of with this demand is you know,
so really, how are you seeingorganizations kind of building up and their

(12:24):
workforce in order to you know,kind of fit this new structure. Well,
as we just talked a little bitabout Genai, that'll probably be the
second most used word. Yeah,that's a phrase of the day, innovation
and Jenai, I guess, right, because it's really where we're at.
But technologies like GENAI really start tobring the less productive more productive. And
what I mean by that is ifyou can envision that any of us in

(12:46):
the course of our day having avirtual assistant that can help us to be
more successful right in what we're doing. I would say a lot of the
generative AI use cases that we're usingis where people have to go into a
lot of research and we're using thetechnology to summarize information or make sure that
when searching and summarizing, they caninteract with their clients more quickly. Right.

(13:09):
So I would say, you know, generative AI, is that one
thing that we are seeing that maybeit wasn't always as obvious obvious, it
should have become very obvious quickly.But is that the training and onboarding of
knowledge workers When we think about youknow, claim professionals, you know there
is a large lead time some companiessay six to nine months to bring people

(13:33):
up to speed. Having these virtualassistants available, you know, it can
take the average worker and actually makethem above average, right, giving them
more value, providing more value tothem when they're working. But I think
also it's reducing the time needed toonboard new employees. Some of these areas.

(13:54):
That's one. I think the secondarea about workforce and how do you
meet the demand is and I thinkReno and I both feel very strongly about
this is not to be afraid tobring in early career talent. Some of
the technologies new you don't need twentyyears of you know, experience to be
able to understand it. So Ithink that's, you know, tapping into

(14:16):
that part of the workforce is alsoimportant. And then I think leveraging companies
like Cognizant to come in with ouryou know, we have unbelievably strong industry
knowledge, we have an unbelievable technicalbench of people and access, we have
strong partnerships. We absolutely there forour clients and able to help them meet

(14:39):
the needs of what they're looking toachieve. Definitely, No, certainly great
on that partnership. And I lovewhat you said too is kind of looking
at those you know, younger professionalsand how to you know, to integrate
them early off into the workforce.And now Marino, for existing employees,
you know, certainly there's an opportunityfor some upskilling new training. What are
you seeing kind of in that sectorin that space? Absolutely, so we

(15:03):
have been very I would say successfulin terms of retention, but it doesn't
come automatically, right, I haveto really work at it. Cross skilling
is important. Upskilling important. Weinvest a lot of time in learning programs
both for our on our press basedworkforce and avoid India operation as well.

(15:24):
We're constantly looking at different ways todo that. I think the other shift
across skilling, and it's even alittle bit of technologies we talk about.
You talk about cloud AI, dataanalytics. More and more people need to
be trained across more horizontal across thoseskills versus verticalness in the past, So

(15:45):
it's more and more important, andI think with gen Ai it's going to
be increasingly critical for teams to beexposed to that. And the other thing
that I think you can't be afraidto rotate people, right, different assignments
have them involved in other things rightthat they may not normally do, And

(16:06):
I think that all contributes to roundedexperience and hopefully in the Canada and the
employee also are enjoying it as well. Definitely, So I like that well
rounded players, that's our I'd usea basketball metaphor, but me, I'm
just thinking you kon Huskies, Idon't know all that's what on my mind,
A very good year, fantastic.So kind of in this space is

(16:30):
you know when we talk a loton this show many times too on you
know, the workforce, the educationand you know, what do you guys
see kind of as as the nextyou know, as companies look to look
to hire, look to recruit,and look to to train employees. You
know, So where do you thinkkind of the next steps are within this
realm? Well, I think whenwe see what's really ahead of companies in

(16:52):
the insurance industry and many other insuranceand just other industries beside insurance, is
really there's a lot to balance andhighly regulated industries, right, yes,
so you have the ongoing regulatory changesin addition to that, just changes in
the way that people need insurance andproducts and things like that, being able

(17:14):
to maintain legacy systems while all atthe same time trying to introduce modern technology.
So I think it's like when wethink about this, we need to
have an operating model and a workforcethat can go, you know, engage
across like you know, you werejust mentioning being able to wear a lot
of different hats. So I think, you know, continuous learning is that's

(17:37):
where we're going to be, rightThe technology, you know, landscape is
changing, and I think really beingable to dig in and be a continuous
learner will be like very critical forthe upcoming workforce Okay and talent Okay,
Marino. Anything to add onto that, Yeah, I would say the technology

(18:00):
now, like if you think aboutit, just between cloud and jen Ai,
Jenai a year ago, eighteen monthsago probably wasn't as popular as it
is today. Yes, very true, And to me, the pace that
it's changing at is back And Ifeel like we've always said bath like technology,
but it really is changing faster andthe quantity of technology that's out there

(18:23):
is much higher than it ever was. So I think the skills in terms
of the future is, you know, employees need to be adaptable, able
to really be able to shift andnavigate r things and apply them, and
then with things like Jenai, they'regoing to be doing them differently. I
think you're starting to see it evenin your Microsoft Office copilot right starting to

(18:45):
do things that you didn't do before, and it's starting to be more effective
and efficient so for your time todo other things. I think more of
that will just continue Okay, sonow I kind of want to take the
last section of our show and kindof look at, you know, some
the challenges and also some of thesuccesses that you've really seen from organizations.
Is you know, so certainly workforceand kind of this change is a good

(19:07):
challenge, you know, but certainlyone that companies are facing. Kind Of
what else are you seeing, Sue, in terms of on the challenges side,
you know, with this progressing technology, which again is moving at such
a fast pace, you know whatother hurdles is that kind of bringing up?
Well, I think it's it's thepace of change the technology is bringing,
right, and it is probably thepace of changes at a rate of

(19:30):
speed that we've really not experienced ina long time, right, maybe never.
And I think insurance companies need tohave a pretty solid business and technology
strategy to adopt the right technologies atthe right time or the transformation opportunities.
But when you think about it,and Reno and I are totally aligned on

(19:51):
this, there are so many thingsthat are happening. You can't just continuously
add to platforms, right, andthen you know, you start to bloat
all of the applications and the platformsand the technology, So there's got to
be a balance between letting go ofsome of the existing technology while bringing in
new technologies. I think that's goingto be a big challenge for a lot

(20:15):
of companies, and like we said, bringing it a little bit back to
the workforce of having the right peoplewho can work on legacy applications along with
the new and how do you bringit all together. But Marino, whatever,
I think you hit it. SoI think that the biggest challenge that
a lot of companies are having workingon new tech. Everybody's going to want

(20:36):
to do that quickly. But atthe same time, as we just mentioned
that pace is accelerating, but everybodyhas legacy, right, that's you can't
you know, you got to beable to make actual legacy right otherwise all
we're doing is adding to it.And just like every company is fixed capacity,
they got to fix workforce, theygot priorities, they got budgets.

(20:57):
Balancing all of that at the sametime I think will be kind of a
challenge for many companies, But Ithink it's solvable. You just have to
be extremely disciplined right and focused onit as well. So all great points
there and looking at the successes whathave both of you seen that's been going
really well, And you know,whether that's within your organizations, you know,

(21:19):
or other companies that you may workwith. I know who I'll toss
that up on who wants to takethat one first, maybe it can start.
So I would say the successes thatwe're seeing in technology and we start
a little bit. The show offwith this is that previously insurance was slow
to adopt new technologies, right,insurance, not the insurance industry the rest.

(21:41):
Yeah, and what we're seeing asAI is advancing, and you know,
we're looking at generative AI. Youknow, I would say in twenty
twenty three we saw a lot ofexperimentation, proof of concept, but the
insurance came companies came in in twentytwenty four first quarter looking to actually into
production. And I'm seeing the speedof adoption, you know, as much

(22:03):
as the technology is advancing, I'mseeing that the industry is advancing in the
adoption of these technologies. So Ithink that's a success story. They're jumping
into the deep end, right,and they're bringing their you know, companies
like Cognizant along to help them onthat journey, but also bringing their employees
as well and really looking to getthat win win between making it a better

(22:27):
environment for their employees to work inand their customers to have, you know,
the best services that they can have. So I think that's a success
area of success. Yeah, Iwould agree, and I would maybe add
I think companies are creative, rightif you think about we've lived through the
pandemic, we have, like livethrough higher interest rates, We've lived through

(22:51):
a lot of things in the lastfew years, and I think companies are
very creative in terms of adopting thenew technology, doing it responsibly, doing
it in a secution your way,leveraging talent. I know some companies adopted
a hybrid workforce, which allows usto kind of balance neighbor in a bigger
market other than just a local.Really applying all of those and to suit

(23:15):
your point, increasing the speed atwhich we're doing it think has been a
success definitely, So kind of aswe navigate all these changes, and so
you hit on it earlier as kindof looking to form those partnerships. What
would be some advice you guys have, you know, as companies look to
build their ecosystem, kind of youknow, where do you start or where
do you look to grow, youknow, kind of with in that landscape.

(23:37):
Well, I would say, thinkingabout what we do from a Cognizant
perspective, and I mentioned it alittle bit earlier, is that we have
a very strong technology bench. Wehave excellent partnerships with many of the technology
leaders, and I think when you'recollaborating and working with companies like ours,

(23:57):
you get all of that. Right. We're very deeply tied into all the
cloud companies, are hyperscalers, alongwith other companies in the industry. So
I think we bring a lot ofthat to our talent, our industry knowledge,
but also the partnerships that we havewhen we're working with our clients.

(24:21):
Yeah, I would agree. SoI think the other things to align on
is picking partners that have similar objectivesand philosophies. Right. We talked a
little bit about you know, customeroutcomes, right, I think Cognizant Envoy
probably have very similar focus on customers, right, So I think things like
that are important in terms of pickinga partner to do that. At that

(24:45):
you know, I talked about creativityaround solutions. We're always having to do
something different because of a need,a constraint, what have you. Picking
a partner that enables that is criticaland then certain we talked a little bit
about employees being able to scale anew technology and having a partner that can
actually be there with us. Soas companies kind of look at that,

(25:08):
there's probably a five of those thatthey really need to kind of look at
closely and try to align to partnersthat philosophically and strategically aligned with their thoughts
as well. That's great, Now, thank you so much there, and
we have a couple of minutes.I'm going to throw one more question because
it was something we talked about aswe prepped a little bit. But when
we've mentioned today as the cloud andyou know, kind of looking at you

(25:30):
know, that's a huge you know, and I give it a couple of
minutes left in the show, whichwe could probably get this could be a
nine hour conversation, but looking atthat is that's something that that transition is
is huge for companies and you know, so if you could touch a little
bit just on you know, whereare companies starting and again any recommendations on
you know, how do they kindof progress through that process. Well,

(25:51):
I would say it's been a journey. Yeah, there's been a lot of
starts. You know, companies havestarted, they've stopped, they've paused,
they've restarted, right, because yougain knowledge and you learn more. I
think for insurance company having a lotof legacy, especially mainframe applications, it's
a little bit of a tougher moveto the cloud at times. So I

(26:11):
think we started maybe in the lastmaybe four years where there was like,
hey, let's just do what wecall lift and shift, take everything out
of your on premise data center,move it to the cloud. But you
really haven't built your platform of thefuture. So I think there's been some
success stories and there's sometimes that's theright approach, but I see that companies

(26:33):
are backing off and saying, let'sdo business led transformation. Let's make sure
that we're bringing the right processes thatwe need to advance on a company and
bringing those capabilities to the cloud andtaking advantage of the modern technology. So
we're definitely seeing a shift, ButI don't think it's a bad thing when

(26:55):
company has had to stop and restart. I think that's smart, right if
things are not going as planned,if the costs are starting to be higher
than expected, or you're not gettingthe gains that you were looking for.
You should pause and redirect. Renohas a little bit of a different which
is good. Though probably I couldprobably talk about cloud for the next hour.

(27:18):
I know that minimum I would saywe we've been I would say our
cloud journey is probably longer than thelast couple of years, because we've built
an internal cloud even before we startedinteresting public cloud to position ourselves. We've
been on a cloud journey for abouttwo years now. And to suit point
out the right number of philosophies anddebates as well in terms of a do
you lift and shift and move quicklyor do you transform along the way,

(27:41):
And we landed not on heavy portionon some transformation right, Okay, to
improve was difficult right for us tokind of do that work right. So
at the same time we're trying totake sizeable chunks a year after you,
we're going to take a full printor workload and really analyze that workload and

(28:03):
then move it thoughtfully and planfully rightso aligns to all of our own priorities,
meets some business needs, and balancesa lot of the things that we
talked about today. But what we'redefinitely seeing is being on the cloud,
particularly as Jenai comes along. Reallyis like you're starting to really see y

(28:25):
cloud right, and not just froma y cloud from a technical point of
view, a y cloud from abusiness point of view like Jenai wouldn't be
so easy without being on the cloud, right, So we're starting to see
that, which is actually really good. Isn't that amazing? You put plans
in place and then all of asudden it works. Fantastic. Well,
thank you both so much for theconversation today. I know personally I learned

(28:48):
a lot. This is I'll betalking about for the next couple of weeks,
So thank you for giving me somecoffee chat pointers before we close.
Would love to just get a littlebit more. Where can people learn more
information about your organization? And soSue, where can you well learn more
about cognignizant dot com if I havea lot of information about what we do,
how we do it, and alsopoint of views? Okay, fantastic
and what about Voya Voya dot com? Same and and certainly look out for

(29:11):
our commercials which everyone loves. Weget a lot of feedback and bal and
burn for those. Fantastic Well,thank you guys so much, really appreciate
the conversation. And again thanks toboth Cognizant and Voya and your teams.
I know so much work went intoputting together today's show and certainly our partnership,
So thank you to both of yourteams for all the contributions they make

(29:32):
to here, to our market whichis great. Thank you, Thank you
of course. So for all thedetails about today's show, you can visit
Pulse Ofthregion dot com. We wouldlike to say thank you to our show
partner Okill and of course, asalways, thanks to you for listening.
I'm Kate Allman. Go out andmake today a good day here in Connecticut.
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