As director of application development and architecture at Arbella Insurance Group, it’s Matthew Postulka’s job to deliver the application and architecture strategy that best supports his company’s continued market expansion. That includes migrating more applications to the cloud — including Arbella’s core financials. We asked Postulka about how he collaborates with business leaders on future strategy, his view on how the cloud impacts IT organizations, and the kind of talent he looks for in an increasingly cloud-centric world.
What unique perspective do you bring when discussing strategy with company leadership?
My passion is solving business problems with technology. I have both a computer science degree and an MBA, with experience across multiple functional domains, which enables me to think strategically from a business standpoint while also understanding the technology implications.
An example of this was the decision to select Workday Financial Management. Arbella is growing steadily and becoming a more complex company. As we continue expanding our market footprint in the New England area, leadership wanted more transparency into our financials. I brought a blended IT and business perspective to the discussion, and was able to understand the needs of the business and discuss the best technology options.
Now, we have more detail in our general ledger and can break down data along different dimensions, such as by product or company, for richer views of our business.
How do IT and business leaders work together at Arbella?
The relationship between IT and business leaders at Arbella has undergone great change in the last five years. Since CIO Paul Brady came on board, IT has gotten more of a seat at the table to collaborate with business partners to solve problems.
Building strong relationships was key to this change, starting with a listening tour throughout the organization to understand issues and create greater transparency about what was happening in IT. IT has continued to build relationships with business leaders throughout the company, laying a solid foundation for working together as trusted partners.
How did Arbella decide moving financials to the cloud was right for your company?
The first step was ensuring finance felt comfortable having the general ledger and data in the cloud. Workday was able to show that very strong compliance and controls are in place. From there, it was both the richness of capabilities in Workday Financial Management and the ability to deliver the solution in less than a year. We also no longer had to worry about the upgrade nightmares of legacy systems, and only needed a small number of staff to maintain the product.
The flexibility and seamlessness of Workday was also a huge selling point. Historically, our systems were not integrated, requiring multiple spreadsheets for all of our different underwriting companies and commercial lines. This made it difficult to track financials and allocate things to the right companies. Now, we have more detail in our general ledger and can break down data along different dimensions, such as by product or company, for richer views of our business.
How has cloud computing impacted organizations?
Arbella is migrating more of its applications to the cloud, impacting the IT organization and the company in different ways. First, we no longer need to focus time, resources and costs on setting up and maintaining infrastructure for new applications. The cloud does away with all of this, providing an on-demand rapid set-up of infrastructure using a pay-for-consumption model.
The cloud has also impacted application deployment. In the past, we would have to write all the code, configure the servers and set up the interfaces from scratch. With the cloud, we just need to configure a system, making our speed to market faster.
Looking ahead, enterprises will continue to move more solutions to the cloud and there will be greater emphasis on IT to manage multiple cloud solutions and vendors and successfully integrate the data between all of those systems.
With all the changes these new dynamics bring to IT organizations, what do you look for when hiring new people?
Leadership and a passion for IT. When I interview talent, I ask them, “Do you love solution delivery, technology, and trying to solve business problems,” and, “Are you a leader?” I worry less about the skills — we can teach people those. Five years from now, those IT skills may be obsolete, but if you have those qualities, you will evolve, continue to train, and be able to adapt to changing circumstances and responsibilities.