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Community Rockstar: Ryan Dennings, ECM Manager at Auto-Owners Insurance

By DAVID Jenness posted Tue September 29, 2020 08:14 PM


Ryan Dennings has built a reputation as an experienced and articulate expert on document capture and content management in the Insurance industry. His team has designed and deployed content management solutions for many Lines of Business at Auto-Owners Insurance and he has shared the story at events like IBM Think, for local User Groups and Business Partner gatherings. In fact, he’ll be sharing many of the Best Practices he has developed over the years in the AIIM-IBM Virtual Event, "It's Time To Realize The Promise of Automation," on Wednesday, October 7. You can register to hear Ryan here.

David:  Congratulations on being the Automation Community’s newest Rockstar. Tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today.

Ryan: I graduated from Central Michigan University 22 years ago and began my career at Auto-Owners (AO) right out of college as a software developer.  I spent a few years writing code on a number of projects and became a Development Team co-leader for a while.  I enjoyed balancing technical knowledge with an understanding of the business.  This lead me to start building our Common Policy Web Administration application team, for P&C Underwriting.  I led that team for a number of years.  When AO started to rethink our Content Management platform about seven years ago, I got involved in the evaluation process. I had always had a keen interest in doing things in the content space.  We were pretty fragmented at the time, with a lot of different point solutions.  We needed to adopt a strategy.  This presented the opportunity to start building an ECM team, which now has 27 associates.  We serve our core business and, increasingly, our affiliates. We are putting a lot of focus on Content Management and Automation while driving cost savings and process efficiencies across the company.

David:  How do you stay current on the technology and strategies?

Ryan: I pick up a lot of education from industry conferences and webinars, where vendors and other clients tell their transformation stories. I’ve gotten a lot from being a member of the IBM DBA Client Council, where we get quarterly updates on product developments and features.  Alos, I’ve connected with more people in the space from networking, and picked up a lot of new information. Some of it rolls through LinkedIn and other sources.  I have developed a circle of people who I can call and who call me, Business Partners and other customers, who rely on my expertise in the space.  It’s amazing how fast the space continues to change and evolve!

David: You started as a programmer, but now you are a people manager. How do you balance the two disciplines? Does it help to manage programmers that you were once a programmer yourself?

Ryan: Certainly.  My degree from the Business School, not a pure computer science degree has helped me.  That means I had an education that blended computer programming and business classes.  Which has positioned me very well to work on cross functional teams.  That’s actually what I’ve become well known for at Auto-Owners, for not only leading a technology team, but interacting with business leaders across the company in my role as a Shared Services leader. The key is to listen to the challenges that the business leaders are facing and then try to solve those challenges with technology, but it’s a business-first approach.

David: Thank you for your ongoing efforts to share your experience and wisdom. It’s that kind of effort that helps create a Community.