New Rules of Engagement: How Digital and Social Innovation Challenge the Insurer Business Model

Jan 31st, 2011 | Posted by

Last Thursday Celent organized an event in London, whose goal was to raise interrogations around digital and social innovation and how it challenges the insurer business model. In order to get some fresh views about this topic, we have decided to invite some speakers who are not directly involved in the financial services industry and insurance.

In the first presentation, we learned how Axa UK has decided to take on the social media challenge. For the presenters Chris Denison – Managing Partner in Axa Innovation Hub – and Manjit Rana – Partner in Innovation Hub at Axa – social media is not a “must” but just another communication channel insurers need to understand and leverage where possible. Chris and Manjit explained the audience how Axa determines individual digital profiles, defines target challenges and identifies solution generators using three dimensions: business model, servicing customers and products/services. This analysis has allowed Axa to identify technology options for solving key challenges. Among others, Chris and Manjit identified interesting tool to leverage such as insurance claim validation systems and iPhone applications improving driving efficiency. According to Axa, deeper digital customers will force insurers to deal with unfamiliar technology solutions and risks.

The next speaker was Shaun Gregory – Managing Director of O2 Media. O2 is one of the leaders in the UK telecommunication industry. The key word used by Shaun during his presentation was “fan”. Actually, the goal of O2 is to “turn customers into fans”. To do so, O2 tries to leverage different kinds of social media tools to improve its product offering in the media business. For instance, the company uses a location tool to target people and inform them about stores and activities that might be of interest to them depending on their location. In addition, O2 also launched credit cards and a contactless payment system via mobile. Shaun’s message to the audience was clear: if you want to turn customers into fans you’ve got to anticipate their needs and provide them with the services that will fulfill these needs straight away.

Engaging with customers the Google way was the following presentation. Jo Hind – Head of Finance at Google – reminded the audience about some of the key innovations Google had contributed to bring to the market to make it one of the most innovative firms on earth nowadays. According to Jo, digital means interactivity and addressability. Interactivity is one of the core offering of Google and the company tries to identify all the times how technology via social media notably can address the need for more interactivity among individuals. Insurers can leverage these new tools and Jo made a special example about how companies can use intelligent billboard in advertising campaigns. Hiscox – the UK insurer – is one of the first insurers who has already used this technology.

The final presentation before the panel discussion was given by Rafe Offer, who is an entrepreneur and industry advisor. Among others, Rafe has worked for Facebook and other innovative companies active in the digital and social media industry. Rafe has captivated the audience with a simple and straightforward message: “the digital revolution is not about technology but it is about the culture of innovation”. Through different examples such as Zappos, Apple, Twenty Recruitment, Rafe convinced us that without a clear cultural commitment to innovate, a company cannot be successful.

The event ended up with a fruitful discussion panel composed of Paul Wishman – E-Commerce Director at LV=, Manjit Rana – Partner in Innovation Hub at Axa – Jo Hind – Head of Finance at Google and Craig Weber – Senior Vice President and Head of the Celent insurance practice. For more information about the questions that were discussed during this session, Craig Beattie, one of our UK based Celent insurance analyst, has been tweeting them during the discussion panel and you can retrieve them here: http://twitter.com/#!/cgbeattie