The 'New Breed Of Digital Executives Are Bringing Along A Different Set Of Priorities'

We sat down with Monu Kalsi, Head of Digital at Zurich


Monu Kalsi is the Head of Digital for Zurich North America, where he leads a high-energy organization passionate about leveraging digital, strategy, marketing, and technology to create business value and drive the customer-focused digital transformation journey.

Monu is currently overseeing Zurich's digital strategy and operations, and omnichannel customer experience across it's owned and paid business channels. He is focused on developing a breakthrough customer experience leveraging digital that unlocks the benefits for customers and distributors to do business with Zurich. Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Digital Officer Forum this November 17-18 in Chicago, we sat down with Monu to talk all things digital transformation. 

How have the main responsibilities of the role of digital executive changed over the past year?

There are three tangible changes I have seen in the Digital chief role over the past year:

While many early stage Digital executives emerged from Marketing or Communications disciplines, we are seeing more and more leaders migrating into this key role from other areas of the organization such as Information Technology and Operations. This trend is here to stay as former technology executives who had primarily focused internally are now increasingly realizing the need to adopt outside-in focus and are being required by their organizations to pivot into the new roles or perish. These new breed of Digital executives are bringing along a different set of priorities with them.

There continues to be increasing focus and sense of urgency around showing the business benefits from digital investments. Digital executives are still grappling with multi-touch attribution and consistent measurement across all digital interactions across the customer lifecycle. Digital executives are spending a lot of time in this space and will continue to spend even more time in the near future.

Digital executives are also increasingly being tapped into assisting teams such as Sales and Customer Service to create tangible digital capabilities to enable these teams better sell and serve their customers to drive growth aspirations and improve retention.

What trends can we expect to be of primary concern for digital executives over the next year?

I see a few trends that will continue to be of concern to digital executives in foreseeable future:

The increasing dependency on customer data and limited access to good, clean, and dependable data will continue to be a hurdle that all digital executives will have to grapple with as they are moving in the direction of creating omnichannel, agile, and value-add experiences for their customers.

Measurement will continue to be challenging in the current environment with the proliferation of data sources and interaction points with customers. Digital practitioners continue to grapple with the challenges of either working with multiple dashboards or integration of multiple data and reporting systems.

Talent acquisition is keeping Digital executives up at night, as candidates with the right skills with relevant domain experience and strategic mindset are hard to find, attract, and retain long term. This is especially harder for legacy corporations and those in B2B space as the top tier talent continues to be more attracted to the more nimble startups, technology companies, and leading B2C brands.

What is your industry doing to better meet consumer expectations?

The Insurance industry is going through a transformation of its own as several key players have realized the gap between customer needs and their service capabilities. We are seeing some very interesting and promising trends that are aimed at offsetting these gaps, such as partnerships and buyouts of these so called ‘FinTech’ startups by carriers and brokers who want to innovate fast without reinventing the wheel.

We are also seeing a fundamental shift from product centric focus to a customer-focused execution which is increasingly becoming more aligned with the customer journey, where carriers and their channel partners are increasingly contextualizing their investments and experience transformations along the customer’s journey and lifecycle moments of truth.

Finally, there is an uptick in the investments being made in mobile capabilities and measurement platforms to better mine and present transactional and post-sale information to customers for better self-service thereby leading to a delightful and fulfilling experience.

Why is the role of the Head of Digital so difficult to define?

The CDO or Head of Digital is a mélange of strategy, execution, technology, and user experience. There is of course no one size fits all strategy which can be used in defining this role and the real mix of skills heavily depends on the organization and its digital maturity, industry, business goals, and several other factors that make the definition process complex and thus requires organizations to do thorough due diligence before drafting the role and initiating the search.

Which other speakers are you most looking forward to hearing from at the summit?

Looking at the fantastic line-up of speakers at the summit, it would only be fair to say that I am looking forward to hearing and meeting all speakers at the summit as each individual has something unique to add based on their experience within their respective industry, organization, role, and stage in their respective digital transformation. 

You can hear more from Monu, along with other industry-leading executives, at the Chief Digital Officer Forum. To register your interest, click here.


Photo: Jonathan Weiss /

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