Q&A: Seven Corners’ CIO George Reed Talks Agility

Welcome to NetApp 360! Why don’t we start with telling our readers a bit about you and your company?


My name is George Reed and I’m the Chief Information Officer for Seven Corners. We’re one of the most experienced specialty insurance management companies in the industry – and at the moment we have over 170 employees in the Midwest – plus 10,000 agents, providers, and brokers worldwide.


What challenge did your business face?


In mid-2010 a huge chunk of our technology footprint was approaching end of life and we realized that if we didn’t get new technology in place by the end of year, we could be dealing with major business-disrupting failures. As CIO, I found myself in a position where my team needed to build a more agile, future-enabling infrastructure. And of course it needed to happen fast.  It was at that point that we entered into a significant transformation. We turned to Netech, who suggested a FlexPod solution that combines the best of NetApp, Cisco, and VMware to deliver immediate engineering value with scalability and configuration flexibility to enable all phases of our strategic plan.


Can you tell us a bit about Seven Corners transformation and the choices that you made?


In our business, where customers are clamoring for new services, time to market determines which company gets the business— I find the first to deliver wins 60% of the revenue. And from where I sit in IT, if were not making the business more efficient – we’re not really adding value to the company. I have a five-year strategic roadmap with the owners that I can build on like a big lego project. In 2010 I needed an out the door solution, FlexPod was able to meet that need, but its also what I need now to be successful continuing down my strategic roadmap.


Part of what is really interesting here is that this transformation actually changed the relationship between IT and the rest of the company. We used to be known as the “island of Dr. No.” No we can’t fix that, no that will never work, no we don’t have time. Now, were able to say “no problem!” The agility and flexibility we’ve gained from our FlexPod infrastructure really helps us deliver impact faster.


How does agility play into your ability as a CIO to accelerate business success for Seven Corners?


At Seven Corners were dealing with monumental data growth and limited budget, most businesses in today’s world are. To add to that, Seven Corners has an eight-year plan for continued double-digit annual growth. As CIO, I need to know that my infrastructure is intelligent enough to be efficient and always on, without requiring my staff to live in the data center 24/7. And to make sure IT has a consistent positive impact on Seven Corners’ aggressive growth plan, I need an infrastructure that can scale rapidly to support business growth without limits. To me, that’s really what agility is all about – making sure IT is a business driver for my company in today’s unpredictable and competitive world.


George L Reed II is the Chief Information Officer at Seven Corners, Inc. He brings over twenty years of diverse leadership experience in multiple industries to his position. This year George and his team were recognized as a 2012 Computerworld Laureate Honors Award winner for using innovation to further humanitarian needs, and as a CIO100 Award winner for 2012. You can connect with George on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/glreedii