Why Our Agency Recruited Someone from Silicon Valley to be Our CTO
Why our Agency Recruited Someone from Silicon Valley to be our CTO
In the early days of 2019, our vision of what a Chief Technology Officer would do for our agency was narrow. In our minds we could see a CTO helping us navigate and implement new and custom tech solutions that would allow the agency to be more efficient and grow. As an agency we posed the question: “How does an independent agency keep up with the myriad of technology solutions that are constantly presented to us, and how do we decide where to begin?”
For our agency, the solution was to hire my brother-in-law, Dave Davis, which ended up being a year-and-a-half-long process. This process included flying him to the Elevate conference in 2019 to give him a better view of the insurance tech landscape. It was during this time span that our conversation evolved from a thought to a concrete plan moving Dave and his family across the country to Florida to join Fudge Insurance in late 2019.
At the 2019 Elevate conference Dave was struck by the theme of the conversations all around us. They seemed to echo what he had heard 10 years prior as the financial industry went through the same transformation into the digital age. In fact, during his time at Intel Dave was instrumental in helping with this conversation and industry transformation. Now he was seeing it all again but in the insurance industry. As he looked around, he had the same thoughts our CFO Jared Townsend and I had a year prior. He saw that agents feared being left behind, did not know what to make of all the tech vendors, and did not know where to start. Most importantly, he saw tremendous opportunity for innovation.
For several years, outside tech startups and Silicon Valley venture capital have poured into our industry. We were told that would mean the death of the independent agency channel, but to date, we are still going strong. And while some of those companies are still around, a good number that have tried to upend our industry and have failed. Why? From my point of view the answer is simple: no matter how much tech you throw at the problems our industry faces, we as an industry are really good at building relationships. Relationships are the one thing that we have with our customers which technology cannot replace. Tech can enhance and help us keep better communication with our clients, streamline processes and make us more efficient, but it cannot replace human interaction.
It has been a year since Dave joined the Fudge Insurance team. Much of that year was spent learning the ins and outs of our industry, building relationships, and analyzing our current systems, deciding which should stay and which should go. After our realization that technology is not the end-all, we are using the CTO to focus on the application of tech for the betterment of relationships. We are still in the process of some of those tech transitions, but we are heading in the right direction. And true to our vision when we hired him, he has helped us identify opportunities in the industry, solutions that can only come from the inside, true indie tech.
Read my previous article where I detail our agency’s journey to hire a full-time CTO.
Doug Fudge graduated with a degree in Industrial Technology and Art from Abilene Christian University in 2001. After college he found his way into the insurance industry and in 2006 founded P Fudge & Associates, Inc. (now Fudge Insurance) with his father Paul. Together they have built a thriving agency with a diverse and growing staff. Doug is past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Central Florida and acts as the president and CEO of Fudge Insurance. In addition, Doug also serves as CEO of The Bonfire, an IndieTech company, and COO of b atomic conversions.
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