by Jennifer O'Brien

CIO50 2019: #26-50 Nathan Pilgrim, Gallagher Bassett Australia

Nov 14, 2019
Technology Industry

Nathan Pilgrim
Credit: Gallagher Bassett Australia

Since joining Gallagher Bassett (GB) in 2018 as CIO, Nathan Pilgrim has championed a number of important initiatives while supporting the course of in-flight innovation projects.

According to the company, Pilgrim has “demonstrated great resilience and leadership in navigating the team through a period of complex organisational change in an environment challenged by rapidly changing customer expectations.”

His mission? To identify and mitigate risks while delivering an improved service-led engagement model building on people and technology assets.

Some of his key areas of innovations include supporting the business in its push to grow the self-insurance product through a rationalised cloud based claims platform that’s entirely paperless and multi-tenanted.

He’s also expanded into new mental health and well-being markets by introducing an online health risk assessment and hub for the Hodgman Liberal Government in Tasmania. He also developed claims processing automation for large Worker Compensation (WC) clients.

Asked how the innovations came about, Pilgrim said self-insurance (SI) is one of GB’s fastest growing products, and is recognised by the CEO as a dominant priority for the wider business.

“SI involves an organisation setting aside funds to manage its own potential financial risks such as workers compensation claims, rather than paying premium to and relying on a third party insurer or WC agent for the case management,” Pilgrim says.

“Secondly, Australian Government’s Department of Health statistics indicate that, each year, approximately one in five Australians will be affected by mental illness. With growing awareness of mental health, health and well-being and stress, employers are undertaking a number of initiatives to promote a healthy workforce.”

One such example is the ‘MyPulse’ wellbeing hub – an innovative solution under Pilgrim’s leadership–to deliver an online health risk assessment/screening service for the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management and Ambulance Tasmania as part of a $6 million multi-year program to improve individuals’ well-being.

“Thirdly, claims functions are often viewed as one of the most manual, labour-intensive parts of an insurance business,” he noted.

For example, amongst other tasks, RPA and ML currently provide insurers with the capability to automate claim registration, liability determination, policy administration and invoicing, he explained.

As such, Pilgrim recognised the importance of automating the low-level administrative tasks where he has been instrumental in creating a high-performing automation team that has a wide lens including Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, combined with demonstrated capability in digital data capture and OCR.

“A unique Centre of Excellence has been established that’s now delivering sustainable and value-add service to the business across multiple Workers Compensation clients.”

Asked what’s unique about the innovations, Pilgrim said although the company has been a recognised SI provider for a number of years, it’s not until the last 12 months that GB has been able to arrive at a target application architecture (TAA) for the SI business which is a departure from a previously fragmented/sprawling landscape.

“The TAA is supported by a fully multi-tenanted application platform that seeks to take advantage of GB’s natural strengths in people and processes to the growing market opportunities while addressing the painpoints shared by the competition.”

Meanwhile, the new ‘MyPulse’ portal promotes and supports individuals to maintain their physical and mental well-being across the workforce.

According to the company, Pilgrim has worked effectively with stakeholders, both internal and external, to ensure that innovative service will support both employed and volunteer emergency responders using Azure identity management solution, biometric data, learning management system, and advanced analytics.

Finally, innovation by the automation team has laid the groundwork for programs of work to unlock insights from unstructured data (voice and sentiment analytics, medical text, clickstream) and leverage it throughout the insurance value chain, he explained.

“In 2020, GB expects RPA and ML to provide our customers with the capability to automate claim registration, liability determination, policy administration and conversion insight (MEO vs LTI).”

In working through the challenges – and providing the necessary structural and operational readiness to comply with the TAA – Pilgrim successfully navigated strategic risks and resistance from the business.

“Although there remain silos within the business that are still encumbered by legacy solution, the opportunity for significant value creation for the wider SI business is now enabling GB to go to market with a compelling and innovative SI offering that is fully multi-tenanted –significantly reducing cost per claims including new client onboarding – and supports a digital straight through processing workflow, thereby reducing the high cost of lodgement. The SI platform is currently in use by the two largest SI business units in Australia, including the wider business and is on track to be rolled out to New Zealand,” he explained.

“In the case of claims processing automation, some 10,000 weekly payments are now made with no human intervention for a large Victoria WC client, saving four FTEs from the frontline. The innovation has afforded GB additional scope to focus on improved customer service, complex tasks, and greater overall outcomes for our clients.”

Asked how Pilgrim collaborates and influences the organisation and its leadership team, he said he draws from his previous experience at Sunsuper as head of technology and operations, as well as a member of the customer relationship focus group.

Certainly, his first priority when joining GB was to create a core team, recognising the importance of establishing strong leadership in the face of the uncertainty that an incoming C-level brought.

Importantly, he recognised the role of IT within GB had to shift from a service provider led model to one that’s based on collaborative relationship to distinguish ITS as a supportive and proactive business partner – a move that paves the way for a long-term vision of becoming a technology change initiator, innovator and business leader.