“We want to be more connected with our customers.”
What comes into your mind when you think about digitalisation in the insurance world?
Digitalisation is changing customers’ expectations, but there is no “silver bullet” solution yet. In recent years, huge amounts of money have been pumped into venture capital and start-ups in this area. That has produced many excellent innovations, but so far I haven’t seen a real breakthrough which is going to revolutionise the insurance business.
Does that mean you are not afraid of Amazon or Google as they enter the market?
Not when I think about our core business – insuring risks on a collective basis. But there is a danger that we may lose direct access to our customers. Then we would become just another replaceable supplier.
What changes does UNIQA need to make to prevent customers from switching to competitors?
We have to be visible all the time, wherever customers look for us, and whenever they need us. That means we need to offer additional services which are used with greater frequency.
Do you have any specific plans? What sort of services do you have in mind?
UNIQA could become a provider in the mobility sector, offering solutions for getting from A to B. Regardless of whether someone owns a vehicle or not. If UNIQA were to enter that market, we would be connecting with our customers almost every day. I could imagine something similar in the health sector. I’m thinking about nutrition, fitness or e-health.
How will these new topics be prepared?
We are implementing our digital projects with small, focussed project teams who work interactively on one solution at a time. These teams consist of specialists, designers and IT colleagues who work together to develop solution approaches in two-week sprints. Every two weeks the results are evaluated and the next sprint is adjusted to reflect what we have learned.
This way we can watch the new solutions grow over time, just like little plants.
Alexander Bockelmann, 43
Since June 2016 UNIQA has had its own Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer. Alexander Bockelmann, who has a PhD in environmental science and extensive experience in the German and US insurance industries, joined UNIQA in October 2013 and has been responsible for the Group’s IT since then. He began his career at the Boston Consulting Group.
So when do you expect the first digital projects to be launched?
Right now we are working on electronic documentation for UNIQA Austria’s sales force. That will be introduced in the first quarter of 2017. We also want to get UNIQA employees involved in the product design for our mobile solutions. The health sector app will initially be launched within the Company, and we will use the feedback from colleagues to fine-tune the details, before we actually put the solution online for our customers.
Is that a health insurance app which allows you to submit doctors’ bills through the app?
Yes, exactly. In fact we have renamed the app UNIQA Mobile, as the aim is to offer services across a range of sectors on a mobile basis.
Why was the app renamed?
Across the whole group there are at least 13 apps. It’s my assumption that customers don’t want multiple UNIQA apps. So over time we will aim to consolidate all our app solutions in a single app.