An executive conversation with MetLife Chief Digital Officer, Greg Baxter

Written by Steve Worth, Senior Consulting Engineer at Dais X

Dais X was honored to participate in the North Carolina Technology Association’s Tech Talk Live series on Tuesday 10/17/2018.

Neal Davis, Chief Executive Officer at Dais X, served as moderator of an Executive Conversation with Greg Baxter, Chief Digital Officer at MetLife.  The event was held at MetLife's Global Technology & Operations Campus in Cary, NC. In the course of the conversation, Greg highlighted several points about the impact of Digital Transformation at MetLife that are worth sharing.

Greg said a strong motivation for him joining MetLife was the opportunity to leverage digital transformation and analytics to help create individual risk profiles which could be used to intercede and help improve the quality of life.  He felt over time it will become a business necessity to provide customers with instantaneous feedback on risk and price quoting for insurance, but it would be even better if that same data could be used to help people improve their lives. He felt they were about 80% complete with the technology infrastructure the company needs and are now working on reusable components that will help in taking the next steps.

One of his goals is to provide consistency of digital assets across MetLife for its employees and customers. In his mind, this means for having consistent tools, connectivity, and data availability for employees worldwide.  For customers, it involves a transparent, consistent experience, with immediate feedback allowing direct and meaningful interactions.

Greg Baxter, chief digital officer at MetLife, and Neal Davis, chief executive officer at Dais X, discuss the future of insurance at the MetLife Global Technology & Operations campus in Cary, NC.

Greg Baxter, chief digital officer at MetLife, and Neal Davis, chief executive officer at Dais X, discuss the future of insurance at the MetLife Global Technology & Operations campus in Cary, NC.

Greg mentioned several activities underway at MetLife that are helping them leverage digital transformation for customers.  One that stood out was the use of voice empathy and stress software to help customer service personnel better recognize and react to customer problems and concerns.  As he put it we are helping our customer service teams to become empathetic with our customers again and provide personalized, meaningful assistance.

When asked about his views on innovation he indicated a strong belief that innovation cannot be outsourced.  It involves both discovery and execution and neither are activities that can be easily outsourced. In his view innovation tends to happen first at the distribution level (how an experience is provided to a customer), then tends to move to the product level (how I interact with the product), and finally to the platform level (how customers interact with the ecosystem).

With the growth of the Triangle area as MetLife’s center for Global Technology Operations, more investment is being made into innovation.  MetLife has worked with Techstars to develop an innovation accelerator to help the company quickly evaluate ideas. The company has also created a $100M investment fund to allow investments in ideas from startups and small companies MetLife believe hold promise in their digital transformation journey.  Idea creation is an important part of this journey. When their next building comes online a whole floor will be dedicated to the innovation accelerator.

MetLife is not unique in that any idea has to be capable of scaling to help their 50,000 employees or millions of customers. One idea they employ in their innovation and digital operations is the concept of premature scaling.  When evaluating an idea, once a minimal viable product, is created they investigate the impact of scaling. This often helps in either quickly eliminating or adjusting an idea so it can evolve and be deployed quickly.

Greg felt that a key strength of the growth dynamic in the triangle area is that growth is largely based on the influx of companies and not venture capital or private equity.  He feels that foundation will allow new/growing companies in the area to tap into the wealth of deep knowledge valuable to existing companies and provide long-term sustained growth versus the faster-paced model more typical of the Silicon Valley area.

Closing, Greg was asked what he felt was most important in helping to create a successful digital transformation.  His thoughts were:

  • Be curious, be courageous, and stay the course.  You will have problems and setbacks - keep moving forward.

  • Fill your promises & commitments at speed as best as you possibly can

  • Understand your role in the value chain and provide the best value you can

To learn more about our Financial Services Technology Advisory, please contact us at