Experimentation, Customer Collaboration, and Simplicity: Chief Product Officer Shivani Govil Shares Her Approach to Product Innovation
Experimentation, customer collaboration, and simplicity: these are just a few of the principles that guide Shivani Govil’s approach to product innovation as CCC’s new Chief Product Officer. Below Govil discusses her new role, what excites her about the P&C insurance economy, and CCC’s position in the market. She not only casts a vision of where the company is headed but offers insights for companies who are ready to build out or upgrade their current processes and embrace digitization.
Tell us about your new role at CCC and what excites you about the industry, the company, and the technology?
I joined CCC in early March as Chief Product Officer, leading product strategy, product management, and marketing. My goal is to advance the company’s vision of delivering cutting-edge solutions to customers across the property and casualty insurance industry.
As an engineer by education, I have a deep passion for technology innovation. What gets me most excited is the opportunity that new technologies create to solve specific user pain points or create entirely new solutions that deliver meaningful value. The insurance industry is going through a dramatic transformation as it moves to more automation and digitization, making it ripe for new technology applications.
When evaluating the next step in my career, I had three requirements: first, I wanted to work in an industry where I could have an impact on people’s lives; second, I wanted to work at a company that was hungry to develop great products; and third, I wanted to work with people and in a culture that shared my values for authenticity and excellence. CCC checked all the boxes. I am excited and energized to apply my knowledge and experience to help drive scale and accelerate development and delivery of next-generation innovations to our customers.
In your experience, what are the key ingredients to successful product innovation?
Our industry is evolving quickly, with tremendous demands to advance digital transformation.
Experimentation, customer collaboration and simplicity are a few key elements to deliver successful product innovation. CCC started to move into the cloud nearly 10 years ago and today we have a 100-percent multi-tenant cloud platform. This gives us an environment to experiment and deploy new solutions or enhancements in an agile way, keeping us at the forefront of technology innovation in the industry. In 2020, we delivered more than 1,400 releases, among them the introduction of photo estimating capabilities for our collision repair customers. This offering proved to be essential as repairers needed to deliver contact-free experiences as COVID-19 took hold across the country. We also introduced more applications of AI, supporting and accelerating auto estimating decisions.
Another key philosophy is customer collaboration. We are not starting with the technology and then going out to search for a customer who’s interested in it. Our job is to understand our customers’ needs and collaborate with them to discover the best solutions to their problems or identify new areas of opportunity. Technology becomes the enabler to deliver that value – whether it is a single technology like AI or a combination of technologies such as mobile, AI, IOT, analytics, etc. – in order to deliver value for our customers and their end users. We work closely with our customers to innovate with them and find solutions to make their work easier. Given our great partnership and trusted relationships with customers (CCC has a Net Promoter Score of 80) we have been able to engage them as we build out new solutions. And finally, simplicity – simplicity is key to building amazing products. This includes delivering the value that customers need, with an experience that is intuitive, straightforward and seamless. A good example of this is our AI-enabled mobile solutions that allow customers to submit photos to document the damage to their vehicle and submit them to their insurer, all via mobile app. From there, our unique combination of machine- and deep-learning and rules-based AI evaluates the photos to detect damage, predict total loss versus repairable vehicles, and automate estimates with a high rate of accuracy. It simplifies the complex task of submitting documentation to file a claim for the consumer, and it saves time and resources estimating that claim for the insurer.
Tell us about your experience applying AI to solve customer business challenges.
I have applied AI in a variety of different use cases across different industries. For example, while I was at SAP Ariba, we used AI for recommendations while buying goods, and document intelligence to build more comprehensive and complete contract documents. We also evaluated AI for anomaly detection and to identify fraud in supplier invoices. And we developed conversational assistants to aid procurement experts in sourcing for their company specific needs. At Sage, we were applying AI to move toward “invisible accounting” – automating the entire financial and close process. We applied AI for intelligent time sheet capturing, forecasting churn and intelligently applying accounting entries to the right codes for reconciliation. At CCC, we are applying AI to many different use cases including damage detection from images, intelligently predicting the cost of repairs, and determining the impact of an accident.
What I have realized is the power of the technology lies in applying it to solve problems that deliver value. This is why it is so important to understand the user problems – not start with the technology. Not every problem needs to be solved through AI, and conversely, when applied properly, it works almost like magic. Some prerequisites for applying AI include having access to good clean data, the ability to clearly explain how the AI works so that it is not a black box and can be easily understood by others and the need to ensure your AI is ethical and free from bias.
Tell us more about your product plans and the future you and your team are building toward.
Within the P&C insurance industry, we constantly hear from our customers about the need for digitization and straight-through processing. We are building innovative products with the explicit goal of accelerating the auto claims and repair process time-to-resolution. Our recent announcements about CCC Estimate – STP and CCC Payments are great examples of this.
Let’s say a policyholder gets into an accident. CCC Estimate-STP will enable the policyholder to use their mobile devices to submit photos and within minutes to get an estimate for the damage from their insurance carrier through the use of our powerful AI that can predict the extent of damage and provide estimates. By connecting to the network across our ecosystem, the insurer can offer their policyholder information on nearby repair facilities who can take care of the repairs for them. And, by allowing the repair facilities to have access to the same photos, they can prepare their repair plans earlier, understanding what parts may be needed, or reviewing repair methods that may need to be applied. CCC Payments aims to deliver payments with a third-party payment processor across the ecosystem – including insurers, shops, lenders, and more, and would integrate directly into existing customer workflows.
CCC is uniquely positioned to deliver these capabilities because of our customer-focused product strategy, where data and cloud technology serve as our foundational building blocks. We layer this with advanced technology such as AI and IoT and combine with our deep network and advanced capabilities around workflow and network management to create a holistic approach that is unparalleled.
How does CCC’s interconnected network drive innovation, and how does it differentiate CCC in the market?
Let me illustrate with an example. Many of us order food for delivery through an app. There is a large network operating behind the scenes to ensure the right order shows up quickly. That network includes the restaurants and their suppliers, delivery drivers, GPS systems, digital payment technology, and more. The success of these dining apps is a result of the network working together to create one seamless experience for the customer. If any of these steps had to be completed offline, or in a separate application – for example, ordering the food and then separately finding a person who can deliver it – the experience would be greatly diminished and result in poor adoption.
Similarly, the strong network of connections across our CCC Cloud platform, which includes automakers, insurance carriers, repair facilities, parts suppliers, lenders, and more, come together to create a streamlined, continuous experience for our customers so they can deliver the same for theirs. For example, when an individual gets into an accident, our AI and mobile technologies allow them to quickly get an estimate on the extent of damage and repair (or total loss determination) from their insurance carrier, connect with a nearby repair facility, schedule an appointment to get their vehicle repaired, get a tow to take their car to the repair facility. The repair facility can electronically order the parts, make the repairs in line with the OEM defined repair methods, and perform the diagnostics to ensure everything is in order. CCC is uniquely positioned with this network across the P&C ecosystem, each of which contribute crucial data and actionable insights for claims processing and repair resolution so that the individual can continue with their life with minimal disruption.
What are some common misconceptions about AI?
AI and other advanced technology provide a great way to do things in new and improved ways, but they are meaningless without having the right use case where it can be applied. Oftentimes, it is not just one technology by itself, but a combination of different technologies that come together to provide the whole solution. An AI solution embedded within a strong customer experience like a mobile app, or a seamless enterprise software workflow can be much more effective than a standalone point solution using AI.
Now, there’s a common misconception that AI is the solution to all problems. In reality, AI is most helpful when it is applied to the right problems. In what areas do you have a rich data set? What tasks need cognitive processing to accelerate outcomes faster than your human team can reasonably keep up with? Where might there be hidden patterns or tends buried in vast amounts of data, that could surface insights to guide decision-making? What are the cumbersome manual tasks that slow down your services, and how can you speed that up for your customers? Answering those questions will help determine where AI will be most useful. AI needs certain prerequisites in order to function well – access to the right amount of clean, historical data, for starters. AI models are also reflective of the humans who built them, which is why it’s important to bring a diverse team to the table who can build solutions free of bias to the extent possible.
Another aspect to understand is that people won’t just take technology for granted; the right solution needs to provide checks and balances to the automation, and it needs to be explainable so that users can trust it. At CCC, we not only use AI widely to automate process for more than 75 insurers, but we offer configurable solutions that implement the level of automation that the client is comfortable with. For example, our AI-driven fraud detection and smart red flags can identify outliers for closer review before they go through any process. So, things like pre-existing damage or incorrect vehicle location can be identified early in the process. The AI is layered with carrier- and region-specific rules that tailor it for the unique insurance provider. These checks and balances help clients scale their AI effectively as their enterprise grows.
What’s your broader advice for companies working to move toward digitization?
In addition to some of the topics shared earlier, a few additional pieces of advice from my experiences working in this industry:
- Start with a big vision and strategy – break that down to actionable execution steps, with the ability to track progress and show success. Having a vision, even if implementation and execution happens in stages, will position companies to succeed more effectively. Doing things without an articulated vision ends up in a lot of wasted time and effort and the need to undo/redo work, which leads to frustration all around.
- Combine deep domain expertise with an understanding of the end users will allow you to determine the right opportunities for digitization aimed to drive business value.
- Bring the right team together – people, talent and mindset makes a huge difference to the outcomes you can achieve. Having a team that has a growth and learning mindset, is open to trying new things, shows curiosity and continuously learns to evolve the product will make a huge difference to achieving the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Don’t try to do everything yourself – look at where there are opportunities to partner and build a strong ecosystem. CIOs and CISOs should ask themselves and their teams what available platforms and technologies can future-proof their business while maximizing investments and supporting long-term competitive differentiation.