Companies that can trace their heritage back 130 years, like First American, are rare and for good reason. It takes a steadfast commitment to innovation to continually meet the needs of customers and remain ahead of the competition. Admittedly, title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions does not conjure up images of dramatic technological change for most. But, for those who know the industry well, they understand how far the industry has come over the last two decades and how the pace of change continues to accelerate.
“The best way to accelerate innovation is by empowering our people. We strive to have a culture that is both collaborative and courageous, where employees feel engaged in their work and motivated to problem solve and challenge the status-quo."
Of course, the impact of evolving technologies and shifting consumer behaviors present challenges and opportunities for businesses across all industries today. As consumers, we see the results of companies’ efforts to meet these challenges and capitalize on these opportunities in our day-to-day lives. Every day, we are bombarded with technology and products that are newer, better and faster than what was available only a short time ago. Innovative products and platforms, like Siri, Alexa, Uber or Lyft, are still relatively new, but at the same time, already commonplace.
Dynamic Industry Demands a Dynamic Workplace
To excel in today’s dynamic environment, companies must not only master the process of evolving their products and services, but also evolve how their people work together to drive innovation. In many ways, the pace of change in the workplace is just as significant as the technological shifts. The nexus of business, technology and people is fascinating and, as CIO, I have a front row seat. In fact, I am focused on optimizing this intersection, helping our technology and business experts work hand in hand, incubating and implementing new products across our organization.
That’s why we’re always examining ways to make incremental improvements or larger adjustments in how we work. For example, using an agile delivery approach with flatter team structures, greater collaboration and continuous deployment and testing of our technology.
With this iterative approach, we can innovate faster and go to market at the speed of business.
Accelerating People and Innovation
The best way to accelerate innovation is by empowering our people. We strive to have a culture that is both collaborative and courageous, where employees feel engaged in their work and motivated to problem solve and challenge the status-quo. Our managers are encouraged to make collaborative decision making a priority, even if this means having to go slow before we can move fast. From weekly standup meetings with no agenda to our “dojo” for training and information sharing, we’re emphasizing a dynamic culture that ignites passion and creativity.
As new technologies and practices become a part of the way we work, we all must continue to grow our skills and increase our knowledge. To support our people as we adopt new ways of working, we’re investing in our teams, providing immersive learning and hands-on opportunities to learn fast. We deemed this summer, the summer of learning and even declared Fridays to be “Meeting Free Fridays” to allow time for training and deep learning. For example, we recently hosted a full-day “Open Innovation” workshop (photo below) with several agile delivery experts, and more than 137 team members from across the company participated in the opportunity to learn, share best practices and collaborate on agile delivery topics or challenges.
We’re building on First American’s legacy of driving the title insurance and settlement services industry forward with new technology, solutions and offerings. The concepts, ideas, and state-of-the art technologies we’re focused on have the potential to improve the real estate transaction for all the parties involved. Recent examples including applying blockchain technology to increase efficiency, reduce risk and improve the title production process, deploying robotic process automation to accelerate business processes and leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance title search efficiency.
There’s much more to come, so follow along for the latest chapter in our pursuit of improving the experience of buying and selling real estate.
Geraldine Ramezani is the Chief Information Officer at First American Title Insurance Company, responsible for strategic planning, application development, R&D, governance, infrastructure and data center operations that enable First American’s strategy.