Who says an established insurance company can't think like a startup?
Northwestern Mutual's Enterprise Venture Fund (EVF) program was created so leaders across the company -- not just in IT -- can evaluate and fund new technologies and implement them on a small scale before rolling them out big. Essentially, the EVF ensures that Northwest Mutual's technology investments either succeed or fail quickly and affordably, and that resources and needs are aligned.
Before the EVF, business units took on the financial burden and risk of a tech implementation. The EVF absorbs some of that cost and risk by letting the company take the technology for a test ride first, thereby avoiding costly mistakes.
The EVF brought a startup mode of thinking to what is a very traditional 156-year-old company. Some of the technologies the EVF has brought to bear include the Microsoft Business Intelligence suite, mobile device application development and unified communications technologies. To date, the EVF has produced 322 unique ideas and 93 projects from 127 idea submitters, with 500 employees engaged in pilot programs. The company says the value added by the EVF over five years totals $17.3 million.