Staying ahead of the competition
In the 14th episode of InsurTech Bytes we welcome Solmaz Altin, CDO, and Christof Mascher, COO at Allianz Group to discuss changing customer behaviour patterns, digital strategy, the role of InsurTech in digital transformation and staying ahead of the competition in the digital age. Listen to the full podcast at InsurTech Rising (FinTech Future’s sister company).
It’s common knowledge in the industry that customer expectations are changing. As consumers interact with brands and companies online more and more, and can compare between the competition at the click of a button, so businesses need to adapt and ensure their interface and strategy is set to match this.
Altin and Mascher discuss the current needs of their customers, and how this has evolved from even a few years ago. Far more often now do consumers evaluate and apply their experience interacting with a company and their product offerings when making a final purchasing decision. They expect best service, and are ready to swap if they don’t find it, so it’s up to the company to keep up and redefine their offerings and user experience.
For Allianz, this meant developing a Global Digital Factory, separate from their main offices, to co-create new technologies and customer journeys. This led to hybrid services, or a blending of traditional services already in their portfolio with new, innovative and often digital products. Altin insists that this isn’t the end of the process though, “Transformation means reaching a new level of performance through a change process.
The first step is a business needs analysis to closely find and scout new technologies and find which ones are the most applicable to their current business, as well as finding areas to expand and create new business ventures. Secondly, these need to be put through proof conception and user testing, before building them into the core customer processes. Then ensuring you continue to learn from it and repeat.”
As many people working for large incumbent insurance companies know, though, it can be difficult to get the senior buy-in needed to push effective transformation strategies through. What advice does Mascher have to getting over the main hurdles of getting people on board?
He sympathises that the main blocker is often legacy – be that systems or ways of thinking. Indeed, Allianz is 127 years old, and came through the financial crisis successfully, leaving many executives cold to the idea that change was needed to stay ahead.
“It’s in the communication to convince colleagues all around the world, that what’s on offer in new technologies can actually help them create a competitive edge in their own local markets.”
When actions speak louder than words, its important to also make change more effortless. People working in different countries and different regulations should be able to utilize digital solutions and have them plug into their own legacy systems. This should then, says Mascher, lead to productivity gains which act as an essential lever to getting people on board.
Finally, there’s the big question of the most important area to focus on now, in order to maintain a competitive advantage. According to Altin, there are two key areas in which insurance companies should hone in on: customer-centricity and data management.
Putting your customers first and handling their data securely should be top priority for insurers, even as they strive to remain innovative and fresh. Failing this could be catastrophic and undermine any digital transformation a business tried to implement, before it even gets off the ground.
Staying ahead of the curve in an over-crowded InsurTech market will be difficult, even for the incumbents. It will be through original business transformation and honest listening to customers and the market which lead companies to insight which could give them the edge to make it through what’s being dubbed the 4th industrial revolution.