The Value Of Technology
Throughout her tenure at Lombard International Assurance, Kim Jacques has brought a technology seat to the business table. As the company’s global chief information officer and senior vice president, Jacques has been an advocate for aligning the value of technology with the goals of the organization. Now, as the company that specializes in addressing financial needs of high net worth individuals, their families, and institutions on a global basis looks to grow, Jacques is one of the individuals at the forefront, managing dozens of projects to expand and update Lombard’s technological platform.
“It’s a lot, right?” Jacques laughs. But a strict focus on planning and amassing the required pieces allows her to keep priorities running smoothly. Jacques ensures that technology keeps up with the business through the technology steering committee that she put in place nearly two years ago. They prioritize a list of projects and align resources to meet their business goals. Chosen projects will get approval directly during the meeting, streamlining the process to let Jacques and her team start working and getting ideas on the road map quickly. Jacques also works with finance to make sure all project costs, including labor, are matched to a forecasted budget. That way, projects are planned and progress is tracked, ensuring that if a project is getting close to its forecast, they can have another discussion.
Jacques focuses on the most effective way to get a project done, balancing timing, long-term strategy, and resource allocation, including hardware and software expenses, as well as IT labor costs. “The conversation is really around what the priorities are. What do we really want to work on as an executive team? Are we all on the same page when we walk out of the room?” Jacques notes. She’s proud to be leveraging software as a service and integrating it with her overall architecture delivery platform. “We really are focused on streamlining IT efforts so we can get value to the business faster,” she says.
In her career, Jacques has built out many financial solutions. Her methodology brings together a variety of resources from business and IT teams into a room to better understand their varying needs. As a result, teams are focused on what is expected of them and when they need to deliver. She leverages an agile methodology and builds out new service-oriented architecture that enables teams to deliver on projects much faster than the traditional way. With these tools, developers can focus on what they do best, which is developing and speeding up delivery to the business.
With this mindset, Jacques has built out a number of high-end data centers. “I’ve done it at almost every company I’ve worked for because as you get in there, the first thing that is important is to learn the business and what your customers’ needs are,” she says. Those factors include whether clients are local or remote, if there will be many devices involved in the process, and what key applications are being leveraged to get the job done. After assessing these factors, an infrastructure can be built to meet the need.
Next, it comes down to understanding the business requirements in case of a disaster by studying and evaluating the impact. Jacques starts by inventorying all of her applications to make sure they have the right design and understand the availability needs. She works to understand what both the business and the customer need, when they need it, and how fast they need it. After that, it all comes down to technology: finding out what’s needed for a converged network, virtualization, and replication, and looking to ensure redundancy for remote access.
Jacques is a believer in data replication and remote backup. This eliminates the need for tape, which is not only costly and hard to maintain, but also takes longer to recover from. Instead, she replicates the backups to an alternate location, where she tests recovery often and can leverage it for high availability and disaster recovery. She’s reduced her footprint, which she says is highly beneficial for the company. It has also enabled her developers to build out quality assurance and lab functionality quickly for less.
Connecting It Back To Business
A big part of these changes and strategies is a continuing focus on technology’s connection to marketing and sales. At Lombard International, Jacques knows the importance of security and not getting caught off guard by unpleasant surprises. “When we’re building out, we’re making sure we’re secure at all times,” Jacques assures. “We’re building everything with the right controls and security to sustain the growth long-term.”
Many of Jacques’s goals for Lombard International relate to spearheading the company’s push toward the future as smoothly as possible. A big part of that involves keeping legacy applications as competitive as possible while also proactively building toward new architecture. “We’re still improving and adding updates to those legacy applications, but I’m also in on the backend, reenvisioning,” she explains. “It’s a kind of two-way juggling. As we move forward, we want to make sure that we pay attention to costs and the growth of the business.”