Taylor Rhodes has taken the helm as Applied’s new CEO. We recently sat down with him to discuss this new chapter in his life and learn more about his perspective on the insurance industry, digital transformation and more.
How do you see your experience in technology and tech-enabled services transitioning to the world of insurance? How about your time in the Marine Corps?
Taylor: Technology is changing business models and creating opportunities for companies to serve their customers in ways that are more valuable and convenient. My experiences at both Rackspace and SMS Assist have focused on enabling companies in other industries to adopt and leverage new technology to create revenue growth and cost savings in their own business models. I think that insurance agencies in this time of change and digital transformation are no different – our job at Applied is to enable agencies and brokerages to consume technology in more valuable ways. Applied already excels in this area, and I look to further that focus for the benefit of the industry.
My Marine Corps experience relates to how I connect with people and lead teams to achieve great outcomes. Author Simon Sinek wrote a great book called Leaders Eat Last in which he studied great leadership cultures. He found that the Marine Corps is one of the most successful leadership cultures because of the way Marine leaders are taught to put those entrusted to their care first. Marine officers always eat last, making sure everyone else is taken care of first. This is a proxy for an entire ethos around servant leadership. In my time as a Marine, I found that to be followed as a leader, you must have followership that is volunteered, not ordered. Followership must be earned, and you earn it by first being a servant to those you would lead, showing them that you care for them.
Are there any big changes/initiatives at Applied Systems you envision happening now that you’re leading the company?
Taylor: The digital age of insurance is here, and it is presenting immense opportunity for the entire value chain. As a company, we remain committed to bringing advanced innovation to market that automates our customers’ daily operations and helps them sell to and service their customers more effectively. We are focused on delivering digital agency technology that provides our customers greater connectivity within their own businesses, with their customers, and with their insurer partners. Additionally, with the recent investment from Google’s Capital G and the acquisition of TechCanary, we see great opportunities to bring new products to market that will help us maintain and expand our leadership position. As the leader in the industry, we feel it’s our happy obligation to innovate on behalf of our customers to create value for their businesses.
What digital transformations are you keenly watching? Anything on your radar you predict driving major change in the industry?
Taylor: Insurance has one of the biggest opportunities for powerful new capabilities like machine learning to help produce actionable insights and valuable products from data. Insurance produces some of the largest data sets in the world, and historically the industry hasn’t maximized the opportunities to leverage that data to create more customer value. With the ability to create data-driven insights for the agency channel, we can help our customers know more about their customers, their businesses, and their insurer partners. There is a huge opportunity to take this largely untapped data in the insurance industry and turn it into value for both agencies, insurers and their customers.
Is there anything else our readers should know at this time, or is there anything you’d like to emphasize about Applied Systems/your new appointment?
Taylor: When I was considering the opportunity to join Applied, I ultimately decided to join this team because it is a winning team that is the clear leader in the industry. That leadership position has been achieved through an intense focus on product innovation and customer centricity. With new market entrants and investments driving change in how insurance is created, sold, distributed and consumed, it’s a really exciting time to be joining Applied. As an industry leader for the last 35 years, we feel like it’s our responsibility to continue to lead, and not to rest on our laurels. It’s time for us to double down on our commitment to innovate and bring value to the industry for the next 35 years and beyond.