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Kathleen M. Ireland augments IBM's risk management with technology

Posted On: Apr. 26, 2015 12:00 AM CST

It's only fitting that a company whose name has been synonymous with technology for decades would turn to technology to improve its risk management function.

Kathleen M. Ireland, vice president of global risk and insurance for IBM, points to a tool called “Deep Thunder” as helping the company get through 2012's Superstorm Sandy without having to shut down. Another, the Attorney Inside Guide for Contract Professionals, lays out uniform insurance contract language across the international company.

But the company's use of technology doesn't stop there, Ms. Ireland said.

For example, IBM maintains a live online risk management guide that features a table of contents, she said. “You click on there so if you needed to get a bid bond, needed to know how to report a certain type of claim, needed to determine what type of claim it was,” the user can find answers. “It's got very basic answers about how to navigate around through that guide,” she said.

The company also has a risk management shared drive, she said. The RM shared drive is an online access-controlled soft copy repository for all key correspondence.

“We own the document retention responsibility for all the insurance policies that IBM buys, not only from a corporate perspective but around the world,” Ms. Ireland said.

If IBM in the future ever has claims that “go back to a long-past event or our legal team needs to look at the documentation, we have that,” she said. This includes all applications, presentations and submissions made by IBM to the underwriting community since 2005, including scanned copies of all U.S.-issued insurance policies/programs and every locally placed property/casualty and auto insurance policy for all operations of IBM, she said.

The company's professional errors and omissions reporting tool “allows us to have a mechanism for any incidents that happen in that particular product line so that our attorneys can easily put that into a database, and it allows us to develop trends,” she said, adding that “once again, we're always looking for what the next risk potential could be from an event and secondly to take those lessons learned and bring them back to the business unit.”

On the property side, IBM calls upon its customized My Risk portal that provides views of FM Global recommendations as they do inspections around the world, Ms. Ireland said. “We configured this with our real estate operations so they can prioritize by the site, by the country, by the geography and then they can splice in different ways to look at which organization has the responsibility.”

“It allows them to take the information that FM provides to us and put it in an intelligent format,” she said, adding that “it's more easily accessible and action-oriented.”

“It allows us to say we've identified a certain type of correction that needs to be addressed,” she said. “We identify that as a weakness in one place. We can develop one strategy that applies to all of the locations to make that same change. So rather than individually attacking one problem here and trying to do it again there, you've got the best lessons learned, the best practices, and we just roll that out over the entire organization.”

This tool “allows us to address pretty much everything with one approach,” she said.