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Aflac - IT Executive of the Year


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Company: Aflac, Columbus, GA
Entry Submitted By: HK Strategies
Company Description: Aflac is a Fortune 500 company, providing financial protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. When a policyholder or insured gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fairly, promptly and directly to the insured. For nearly six decades, Aflac voluntary insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress.
Nomination Category: Information Technology Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Information Technology Executive of the Year

Nomination Title: Julia Davis, CIO

Tell the story about what this nominee has achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

IT leadership is an integral part of Aflac’s strategy and vision, and Julia Davis has led the initiative for Aflac’s 2020 Roadmap through her deep knowledge and ability to execute flawlessly. From a technology perspective, her leadership has helped create the framework via new channels, markets and customers based on technology advances.

Julia has championed Agile software development—with an emphasis on fast delivery, team collaboration and empowerment, continuous feedback and adjustments—to transform the IT culture from firefighting to fire prevention, while driving customer (employee) satisfaction to historic highs. From 2014 to 2016, she has moved the percentage of IT projects using Agile from 0% to 13%, while shifting the number of employees using Agile Framework from 0% to 22%. Additionally, from 2014 to 2016, she helped increase Aflac’s customer satisfaction score from 52% to 79%. At the same time, she drove an overall increase in IT productivity without increasing headcount.

Julia drives measurable value through employee action committees that help boost employee engagement scores, give employees the power to implement new initiatives that raise team morale, and create a work environment that encourages innovation and creativity. After the implementation of the committees, the engagement score increased from 52% to 66% in one year. Understanding that engagement drives better performance, she championed employee engagement with 47 different employee-centered events in 2016, ranging from fundraisers to team competitions and socials.

Through improving internal policies to modernizing IT systems and processes, Julia has brought innovation to Aflac by focusing on driving customer value through strategic technology initiatives. Aflac’s One Day Pay, a groundbreaking initiative that pays policyholders for eligible claims in one business day, was optimized through Aflac’s claims technology, resulted in paying 1.8 million claims in one day in 2016. In addition, 95% of online users are likely to recommend Aflac to others.

In 2016, Julia also oversaw one of the largest implementations to date of Microsoft Office 365. Previously, Aflac used a version of Mirapoint, an email appliance, which was going out of support at the end of 2016. Updating to the next version would have been difficult and would have required additional time after the current version lost support, along with approximately $600,000 and maintenance.

From March to October 2016, Julia’s IT Division spent three months planning, holding weekly sessions with Training, Change Management and Communications, and devoting three months to implement meticulous planning. Aflac moved roughly 46,000 inboxes from Mirapoint to Office 365 overnight “with the click of a button.”

Julia believes in training IT leaders to be, first and foremost, business-minded. The roughly 16 people on the implementation team, which was on the smaller side given the size of the implementation, knew there was a risk to making the change overnight. Their original goal was to make the transition in chunks, however this ultimately was not possible due to the fast-approaching expiration date for Mirapoint support, which made the transition “all or nothing,” so everything was transformed at once.

As a result, Aflac’s IT Division no longer spends hours on data center upkeep and there are no costs to maintain servers. IT cites Julia’s leadership, team effort, communication, planning, accountability and follow-through as reasons for success. The move to Office 365 represented Aflac’s first time in the cloud and resulted in Aflac building out its landscape and laying the framework inside the Microsoft cloud to allow the company to ultimately run any Microsoft application there.

Finally, Julia helped launch a PEGA Systems Academic Program at Columbus State University. This two-year partnership among Aflac, TSYS and Columbus State University’s Computer Science Department began as Aflac recognized its talent gaps, especially in customer relationship management and business process management technologies needed for the future. This initiative will provide a pipeline of specialized talent for Aflac and other Georgia businesses. More than 30 students are on track for graduation in May 2018.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominee since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

•Increased Aflac’s customer satisfaction score by 23.6% from 55.3% in 2015 to 78.9% in 2016.
•Oversaw one of the largest implementations (46,000+ users) of Microsoft Office 365.
•Migrated Aflac to its first cloud-based platform.
•Helped increase employee engagement score from 52% to 66%.
•Championed employee engagement to drive better performance with 47 different employee-centric events.
•Keynote speaker at industry and academic forums: CIO Insurance Summit, CIO Retail Summit, CIO Executive Summit, CIO Finance Summit as well as Georgia Tech’s IMPACT and the Columbus State University Turner College of Business Executive speaker series.
•In 2016, Aflac ranked No. 21 on InformationWeek's Elite 100 and No. 49 on Computerworld’s 100 Best Places to Work in IT lists.
•Aflac won the 2016 Novarica Research Council Impact Award.
•Named a Computerworld Premier 100 Technology Leader, a CIO 100 honoree and a Silver Stevie honoree for IT Executive of the Year in 2016.