By Peter High, published on Forbes
Suren Gupta has worn many hats over the course of his career, but has ultimately found success by combining his technology and business acumen to tackle IT and operational challenges. In his current role as Executive Vice President of Allstate Technology and Strategic Ventures, he has demonstrated an incredible ability to seize competitive advantage through his commitment to innovation. In an earlier interview, Gupta comments on a company transformation and increased focus on customer service at Allstate. Since then, he and his team have developed and launched Good Hands Rescue Mobile, a service available through their app that connects stranded motorists with emergency roadside service providers. This innovation is responsible for helping around 25,000 stranded drivers a month and providing the company an eight digit revenue lift, and for that reason. Gupta is a recipient of the 2017 New York Summit Forbes CIO Innovation Award.
When asked about Gupta’s contribution, Pam Dufour, president of Allstate Roadside Services said, “Allstate is leading the way in the digital evolution of the roadside industry. Mobile devices are part of most Americans’ everyday lives. The Good Hands Rescue mobile app and website leverage technology to connect people with roadside services using their smartphones. We’re making it easy for people to do business with us anytime, anywhere and in any way.”
Peter High: Please describe the innovative idea that you and your team in IT pursued.
Suren Gupta: Allstate’s mission is to protect customers from life’s uncertainty. In 2015, it launched Good Hands Rescue Mobile, an innovative digital solution that makes it easier for stranded motorists to get the help they need. This mobile application and website enables drivers to easily request roadside assistance anywhere in America through their smartphones. And to expand that promise and the potential usage, the application was not limited to just Allstate’s customers.
When Good Hands Rescue Network launched in markets across the United States, Allstate saw rescue times were still too high as they were dependent on the amount of available service providers in each area. Allstate once again disrupted the roadside services industry with a new product to address those high wait times. Good Hands Rescue Network facilitates the digital exchange of customer requests for emergency roadside assistance. It enables a fully digital network of more than 1,000 skilled crowdsourced rescuers to safely, quickly and reliably rescue customers in less than 30 minutes on average. This cuts down on customer wait times by at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Good Hands Rescue Network was built on a platform as a service infrastructure, and includes state-of-the-art mobile applications for iOS and Android users as well as complementing web applications. It also includes a sophisticated virtual assistant, which is capable of providing roadside assistance using natural language over text message. This is a new model for customer service, the “Talk. Tap. Text” model, where customers can request assistance by calling roadside services, utilizing the Good Hands Rescue application, or texting the roadside virtual assistant.
The development of GHRN is a part of Allstate’s CompoZed initiative. Under this initiative, digital products are developed using agile XP as a software development methodology with paired programming, test driven development, continuous integration, collaborative cross-functional product teams, continuous delivery, and our own Cloud infrastructure Platform as a Service.
High: What opportunity or issue to be resolved led to this IT-led innovation?