An Interview with Paul de Bruijn


FST Media: What are your priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

de Bruijn: For the next 12 to 18 months, we will be bringing in various new target operating models, new back-end systems and mobile solutions. Alongside these initiatives, we are running programs to move operational and call centre processes to our APAC shared service centres. We are also concerned about the quality of our support as we externalise more and more. We need to align and improve our entire support model in 2015, especially focusing on agents, brokers and customers’ needs. As customers engage online and increasingly use mobile devices, we need to ensure there is adequate support behind our platforms to improve the overall customer experience.

Another priority is the development of our employees; we have to ensure that the knowledge and skillset of the Transformation Services staff is continually improving and keeps up with the fast-changing digital world around us.  

FST Media: What does the role of Head of Transformation Services entail?

de Bruijn: Transformation Services is a global department and I am heading the APAC team. I have around 100 staff spread across 12 countries in APAC working on transformation projects and change initiatives for commercial and consumer insurance, operations and claims. My role is mainly to create a good working environment for my team to deliver the expected results.

FST Media: What technology or innovation will be the biggest game-changer for insurance in the year ahead?

de Bruijn: For insurance, I am sure it will be social, mobile and big data; I am not sure which insurer will be the most successful in this space this coming year.

For AIG, at the moment, the focus in distribution is on mobile. When we get it right, our game-changer, our competitive edge, will be created through mobile.

On social and big data, we have projects in place on a global level, but this has not yet landed in APAC. Instead, our focus here is to get more and improved mobile applications out in every country in the region.

FST Media: How has the rebuilding of AIG on a global IT platform progressed in APAC and how will it deliver value into the business here?

de Bruijn: We are making good progress, but we are not yet there. The strategic systems have been identified and partly implemented, but it will take another few years to finalise the implementation in all countries. In an optimum state we will have one system for every business line seamlessly integrated with our web and mobile apps. This will create more efficiency, improved time-to-market, competitive product offers, a better customer experience and finally adding value for our customers, distributors and AIG.

FST Media: How will predictive analytics applications help AIG in minimising risk?

de Bruijn: At the moment, we have one database per country, each one has more or less the same structure. However, not all data we need for predictive analysis is available in this database. Therefore, we have an initiative to implement a new data store in every country providing all customer, distribution, portfolio, claims and financial data. Predictive analytics will help us in the segmentation of the market, defining customer profiles and predicting customer performance to understand the underwriting and fraud risks, cross-selling opportunities and profitability expectations. 

FST Media: What has been the uptake of AIG Direct, and how does it deliver a seamless customer experience?

de Bruijn: At this stage, it depends on which country you are looking at. Our multi-channel strategy is based on the local markets and specific product lines, some direct markets in APAC are successful, however the agent and broker channels are our main focus in most of the countries.

A seamless APAC customer experience does not yet exist. Every country has websites in place which guides customers to information about our products and processes, or to generate a quote, but each experience is quite different, and it is not yet seamless with what we provide in the agent channel.

We are now working to ensure that our mobile channel is seamless, so that our direct websites, agent portals and mobile applications for customers and agents will have the same experience, with the same functionalities, look and feel, and data behind each platform.

FST Media: What role will emerging technologies play in the future of the insurance industry?

de Bruijn: Emerging technologies will eventually change the insurance industry dramatically. If we look a bit further in the future, sales and distribution, customer portfolio and claims service, and underwriting will be done through real-time self-service web and mobile channels for customers and distributors, fully integrated with our back-end systems. Mobile technology will support a flexible and mobile enterprise and the current cubicle workspace will be changed into an inspiring, customer-focused, flexible workspace. Sales and marketing will be supported by all data available on the internet or provided by wearable and mobile devices, and will be focused on segmentation and customised insurance offerings to our customers. Consumer claims will be paid fast and immediately based on fraud detection algorithms. The insurance organisation as we know it will be fully digitised and today’s extensive back office manual processing work will be minimalised.  

FST Media: How do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

de Bruijn: At AIG, we are trying to catch up with the market. After the GFC, AIG invested and is investing heavily in getting up to speed with competitors; this was mainly done through existing and proven waterfall project delivery. Now the time has come to be more innovative in how we, Transformation Services, define and deliver solutions. Some teams already have the opportunity to redefine our way of working and designing solutions.

Especially in the digital space, we are trying out different methodologies like Agile, using an outside-in approach and working with new technologies. The result is very encouraging and shows that a more innovative approach can deliver better and faster results in certain areas. It is a challenge because many things can easily go wrong, but it is nice to work on these innovative initiatives and share what we have learnt with the rest of our team and the AIG organisation for use in future projects.

Mobile is an area where we are really experimenting with the look and feel of an application of the future. Rather than copying what our competitors are doing, we are experimenting with the new; we work with external consultants who advise us. This team works together to define creative innovative products and offerings and this results in positive vibes within the entire department.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

de Bruijn: I do not know about our competitors but I have the feeling that AIG is lagging a bit behind in the digital space. The key focus for myself, together with my colleagues, is to develop new solutions which create a strong and sustainable competitive edge in the coming years. I will be proud to be part of a team that makes this digital transformation a success.