Technology as a superpower: A Graham exec's take

Technology as a superpower: A Graham exec's take | Insurance Business America

Technology as a superpower: A Graham exec's take

Part of Michael McIntire’s insurance technology strategy can be summed up as this: Developing an invaluable superpower.

That superpower involves a better use of data.

“It’s an area that we’ve been pushing quite a bit – better leveraging the data that we have from our clients, whether it’s the cost of risk or loss analytics, being able to not just retrospectively tell the client that something happened but tell them why it might have happened and what might happen into the future,” said McIntire (pictured), chief technology officer for insurance and employee benefits broker Graham Company. “It is a superpower that I don’t think many have.”

McIntire joined Graham Company as CTO in early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. He took on an added role as leader of Graham Company’s shared services team earlier this year. Founded more than 60 years ago and independently (and employee) owned, the broker employs more than 215 people and maintains offices in Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. and conducts business in all 50 states.

Two parts

The executive describes his two-part role at Graham Company in detailed terms.

On the CTO side, McIntire focuses on client facing technology strategy for customers but also internal IT. In addition, he helps develop and oversee services, ranging from data analytics to other platforms that Graham offers clients to help them better manage their risks.

“My job is to make sure we’re offering the right mix of [products and services] to the clients, and also making sure that [those products and services] stay relevant to the needs of clients over time,” McIntire said.

The company is also building a shared services model as it continues to expand.

“We’re going through a pretty big growth stage so we’re trying to be more efficient in how we service clients,” McIntire explained.

Some of those efforts involve developing software and services around data analytics or loss information.

“We’re applying technology to those problems and then centralizing that so that there’s one or two people doing those functions,” McIntire said, rather than spreading those efforts across the organization as has generally been done. “We get a better kind of operational efficiency and can provide additional services to clients that do modeling.”

Key tech investments

One of Graham Company’s most strategic technology investments came within six months of McIntire becoming CTO: boosting cloud services.

“In the first six months, as COVID was hitting, we transitioned everything out to the cloud, which has been huge on a lot of fronts, and we completed that in a very short period of time,” McIntire said. “It opened up the ability to be onboard with a lot of these [new products and] services rather than making sure all the old stuff was running.”

Crucially, becoming an investment partner in BrokerTech Ventures (BTV) two years ago was another key investment. BTV, co-launched by broker Holmes Murphy and M3 Insurance, is an incubator for broker-centric insurtech startups that also enables seed funding and access for startups to brokers, wholesalers and carriers.

He noted that BTV has helped launch TrustLayer and others, but there has also been “a soft benefit” BTV carries in terms of “bringing innovation” into Graham Company and other partners. An infusion of newer technology has been invigorating, he said.

“Before this time, the company was doing well, but it had a hard time integrating some of these new and emerging technologies,” McIntire said. “With this constant heartbeat every year we see dozens of new startups with new capabilities.”

Graham Company’s involvement with BTV has been a game changer, McIntire added.

“The conversation has changed completely in the two years that I’ve been here and now account management and production is much hungrier to add those [digital] services,” McIntire said. “We place coverage but we’re also providing those services … for additional fees, so being able to build those capabilities has been a huge outcome.”

Solving problems

As McIntire sees it, technology serves as a critical tool to help solve problems in both business and life.

“At my core, I get excitement from solving problems, and technology is first and foremost great at solving problems, whether it’s a business problem or other problem,” McIntire said. “When you wake up and you’ve got a problem to solve and you go to bed after solving it, that’s a great feeling.”

As CTO, the problems differ in scale and timeframe but the same rule applies, he said.

“There’s so much opportunity for improvement around the use of technology up and down the value chain and connecting the value chain together in more profound ways to ultimately serve the client better,” McIntire said. “I just see so many opportunities there and I am excited to be able to try to shape some of them through the work with the startups that we do.”