International insights on mobile innovation and interactivity in insurance
McDonald: How important is innovation in driving Generali’s success?
Boré: It’s very important. Generali is an insurance company operating mainly through non-captive distributors meaning we are working mainly with IFA and brokers for 70 per cent of our underwritten premiums. In that sense it’s crucial for us to maintain a competitive advantage in their eyes. It relies mainly on two aspects, the first is the technological dependency that we can create with them through web services, mobile services etc and the other is the dependency we create in the eyes of their end customers through insurance solutions. Those are the two pillars for us in terms of strategy.
McDonald: Generali launched a new iPhone app this year. Can you share with us some of the business drivers behind this initiative?
Boré: As I was mentioning, we are facing two major challenges. First to continually seduce our intermediaries; the distributors. The second challenge in the French insurance market is to increase our brand name recognition in the eyes of our customers. That’s the reason we thought launching the mobile application will on one hand reinforce or strengthen our distributors and on the other hand, as we are a newcomer in this market, will create a marketing advantage in the eyes of the end customer.
McDonald: What are the top technology trends you see shaping the market in Europe right now; and why are these significant?
Boré: I see three trends that are relevant. The first one is mobility, through smartphones and tablets and co-creation through Web and digital experience. Hyper has been a market-maker in Europe and is still the leader with strong challengers such as Android. I think we still have to test and experiment with all the possibilities offered by tablets such as iPads in the coming years.
The second factor that is to my mind relevant, is the interactivity. It is a key word; when you look at the value chain in insurance, you find you can invite the customer to interact with your company in every single part of your value chain. Technology is a great enabler of this through mobile, web, phones etc.
The third trend is to my mind the pricing area. The IT systems are quicker and quicker and calculation possibilities are tremendous. In terms of actuaries it should open some new, very exciting areas for our end-customers in terms of pricing premiums, online and continuous pricing of our products.
McDonald: What customer-centric strategies are you employing to ensure your products and services are adapted to clients’ needs?
Boré: I think one key success factor will be the short development cycle of those applications and the methodology we use, which is called Scrum. It’s an Agile methodology. The idea is to put everyone in the same room; business guys, IT guys, beta testers etc to do a daily Scrum and have sprints to visualise as early as possible some part of the applications we are developing. It’s very efficient in terms of adjusting the applications, in terms of arbitrage and in terms of understanding the IT complexity of what the business department is demanding etc. So the Scrum methodology is to my mind, key.
McDonald: Insurers are increasingly focused on mobile technology. How is Generali leveraging the smartphone application phenomenon?
Boré: In France we were the first insurer to launch a real iPhone and Android application and we have a clear strategy to develop those applications for, on one side the B2C business and on the other, the B2B business. We follow a three-step approach: first we strengthen our distributors in front of their clients; we help them look clever, smart and innovative and we try to alleviate the administrative burden on their shoulders. Secondly, we try to offer end-clients real value-added services across the whole value chain: before sales, after sales, claims management etc. The third step in our strategy is now to enter the risk assessment business, meaning using the iPad and some specific screens to work with clients, especially small and medium business clients. You can assess the risk: the quality of the walls, the quality of the machines etc. We are right now working on this type of application to create some interactivity between the clients and the distributors and to show the client we are not just here to take money without any service.
McDonald: Every business leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?
Boré: I find this industry a bit old fashioned at times. Insurance is boring and after eight years in insurance after my actuary studies, I am convinced that we offer very useful and helpful services. Every economic development is enabled by the insurance mechanism – to take risk you need an insurer behind you and one challenge, or one interesting thing I’d like to do is try to turn this industry into a more comprehensive and customer-centric industry and, partly thanks to new technology, that is quite an exciting challenge for me. I’m convinced that plenty of other initiatives can be carried out in this industry.
A video interview with Bertrand Boré, EVP, Generali (France)