Go Digital or Go Home – Bernie Gracy, Chief Digital Officer for Agero

In the feature video, Stephen Orban, General Manager of “Something New”, AWS Marketplace, provides an update review of the AWS platform, covering the latest news about their full suite of products.

Previously CIO with Dow Jones Stephen kicks off with an overview of their shift to AWS, retelling the story of how their transition from on-premise legacy technologies to the Cloud enabled them to ratchet up their release cycle from a rigid twice-weekly, problematic cycle to a new mode of constant and frequent updates.

Go Digital or Go Home

Beginning at 17m:15s, Bernie Gracy, Chief Digital Officer for Agero, walks through a detailed case study presentation of how they too have embraced AWS to achieve this same transformation.

Agero is one of those mostly unknown but massive businesses, responding to one in three road side breakdowns and processing ten million requests a year.

They are a classic example of the threats traditional companies face from the new disruptive digital world, where trends such as Uber taxis and car subscriptions vs ownership are entirely changing their industry landscape.

At 20m:20s Bernie describes this threat as a need to ‘Go Digital or Go Home’, how they have responded to the challenge through wholesale transformation of the role of technology in their organization, encouraging and enabling a culture where ‘every one is an innovator’, seeing the world through a new lens of new capabilities and thus a new possible.

In particular he disputes the analysts ideal of ‘bi-modal IT’, where legacy systems are treated as untouchable black boxes and innovation is focused on a new tier of separated applications. Instead they decomposed their 15 year old monolith application previously dedicated to call centre agents, into 200 microservices that could be orchestrated by any facet of their new platform.

With innovation as everyone’s job, new ideas bubbled up that presented them with insights into new market opportunities, which the more agile technology approach made possible to exploit. For example through a focus on ‘adjacent’ sectors alongside their core capabilities, they expanded new digital capabilities across their value ecosystem, creating a new app for crash detection that over 300,000 customers downloaded and used, optimizing their algorithms.

This was built using Lamda Serverless technologies, enabling them to focus on the value generating business logic and the use of Machine Learning to build a smart app, with AWS handling the underlying, non-value adding infrastructure elements.

It also included transforming the customer experience, such as the use of telematics to enable roadside assistance built directly into the car itself as well as a range of mobile app innovations that are made possible through the exposure of their API to partners like insurance providers, for which they won the award of Omnichannel Application of the Year.

Digital Platforms

It’s a particularly interesting case study exploring the dynamics of the Platform Business Model.

At 18m:20s Bernie describes that Agero is a classic multi-sided platform, matchmaking the demand for roadside assistance coming from many ecosystem customers such as insurance providers, with thousands of independent towing companies.

How Agero has extended this classic model into a new digital platform offers a powerful insight for insurance companies, challenges that are explored by Bain.

Bain identify a number of critical strategic drivers that Bernie’s presentation specifically addresses:

  • The few insurers that do these things well earn the loyalty of their customers, but most companies don’t consistently deliver the value that customers, especially millennials, are seeking.
  • Customer use of digital channels, especially mobile, is rising rapidly, but incumbents are struggling to create delightful digital experiences and are facing new competition.
  • Insurers that excel emphasize flawless execution in their core business, offer an ecosystem of services that go beyond insurance and make customer-centric innovation a top priority.

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