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Jean-Baptiste Perret Torres, Head of Strategy, Innovation and M&A at Allianz France, describes how innovation is everybody’s business at the insurance giant.
What makes your company truly innovative?
Innovation is one of the two pillars of our current strategic plan and aims at securing Allianz France’s market shaper position. In the past five years, we have aggressively pursued innovation opportunities, from emerging technologies (Big Data, computer vision, A.I.) to evolving consumption behaviors (usage-based insurance, sharing economy, and mobility), in order to continuously improve products and processes and better respond to customers’ current and future needs.
Much effort has also been put into building a strong innovation culture across the company. At Allianz France, innovation is now everybody’s business and those with the most hands-on experience are encouraged to launch or actively take part in innovation projects. In addition, we have also developed a comprehensive open-innovation program, to learn from all types of innovators outside Allianz and build innovative solutions together.
What are the major goals and results obtained from your ongoing innovation strategy?
Our long-term commitment to innovation has already produced results not only for Allianz but also for our customers and employees.
First, it is allowing us to continuously improve our customer experience and increase overall satisfaction. We provide best-in-class responses to our clients’ needs through all channels, whether digitally (e.g. chatbots) or in-person through our extensive physical network (e.g. innovative non-insurance services). With this goal in mind, we created a proprietary A.I tool, to automate back-end processes from identity theft and fraud detection to claims management and better routing of e-mails to our customer service teams.
Second, innovation is a key lever in our ability to offer top-of-the-line products (e.g. connected car and home insurance, cyber insurance), and services all across the insurance value chain (e.g. predictive maintenance, virtual risk prevention analysis), with a quick time-to-market. It allows us to secure our market share by improving client retention and fuels growth by allowing us to conquer new markets.
How is a culture of innovation achieved across your company?
The increasing culture of innovation at Allianz is the result of several initiatives conducted since 2014 and aims at giving every employee a role in the overall innovation setup.
Allianz fosters employee participation in the innovation process through collaborative programs, such as firm-wide innovation marathons, ideation challenges, and an innovation lab which aims at launching internal start-ups.
We are also strongly involved in the French innovation ecosystem with a venture capital fund and an accelerator that have been supporting more than 70 start-ups since 2015. They have been strong learning and acculturation tools and a breeding ground for synergies & co-innovation across our product lines.
Last, we innovated strongly regarding management practices. A large part of the company is working in tribes and squads gathered in six ecosystems (health, mobility, etc.), working with agile methods. Ecosystems are in charge of both run and change for their markets. They allowed us to reduce functional siloes and gain speed in project execution, including innovation projects.
How does your company manage the overall innovation process?
An Innovation Department and a Transformation Office are in charge of coordinating the innovation process. Other dedicated teams, like our Big Data & A.I. department are in charge of testing and implementing new solutions across the company.
Overall, our innovation management process follows 3 key stages. First, ideas are sourced internally or externally (start-ups, customer ideation challenges, etc.). We use design thinking methods to ensure customer need validation. We follow a test and learn approach by developing prototypes or PoCs to test the ideas and study their implementation. Ecosystems are in charge of implementation with a stress on quick time-to-market. They are also responsible for continuous improvement throughout the life of the offer.
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