Innovation and digitalisation – we will stand by our customers in future as well
Building on these initiatives in the core business, UNIQA is providing additional momentum aimed at continually adapting the business model to current requirements. The overriding objective here is to be able to inspire today’s customers in future as well.
Innovation – becoming a service provider: This strategic initiative is concerned with further evolution of the insurer value chain from providing coverage only to being a fully-comprehensive service provider. This transformation, which is closely linked to the digitalisation of the industry, includes a bundle of different measures. They range from analysis of innovative business models from outside the insurance sector to selective investments in start-ups in the financial and technology sector through to collaborations with incubators.
Establishment of an Open Innovation Unit provided new momentum for UNIQA innovation management in 2018; this unit collaborates across corporate boundaries with external innovation drivers such as universities, other companies and the start-up accelerator weXelerate. The intention is for new trends to become established at UNIQA while innovations are developed with external partners and then translated into pilot projects at UNIQA’s specialist departments.
As a further pillar, in 2018 we also combined and further expanded our venture activities in UNIQA Ventures GmbH as a vehicle for investments in young companies and start-ups. Aside from Playbrush, a company operating in the dental hygiene sector, other new investments took place in the reporting year in health (doctorly software for doctors) and basic IT (Insly software for brokers) technologies. We are also planning further direct investments over the next few years in the areas related to health, mobility, home and so-called risk buddies.
As part of an additional track to these direct investments, we set up a fund for investments in FinTech companies in collaboration with Raiffeisen Bank International and venture capital specialists Speedinvest. The fund started operations in early 2019 with an endowment of €50 million.
Digitalisation – rethinking the business and service model: Our service concept and also keeping the promise to the customer in the digital age are central to this strategic initiative. Realignment of customer contact points and downstream service processes are at the heart of this, since communication channels and customer requirements related to quality, response times and service expectations will also undergo a significant transformation in the insurance industry over the next few years. UNIQA has to rethink its own business and service model from the customer’s point of view given this level of disruption to the market environment. Amidst UNIQA’s leading position in health insurance, we are placing a particular focus on the area of health.
This strategic initiative made significant progress in 2018 in establishing new digital points of contact for our customers. For instance, the UNIQA ServiceBot (chatbot for customers), the new myUNIQA customer portal and the myUNIQA app, which among other things enables photo-based submission of receipts for outpatient health insurance services, were all successfully introduced over the course of the year. In addition to Austria, the new myUNIQA solutions have also been available to our health insurance customers in Switzerland since early 2019. These new digital points of contact now form the basis for the expansion and provision of new digital services.
In terms of our international markets, we focused primarily on expanding our online business and the introduction of new digital products via the web pages for our relevant national companies. Our first internal Insurtech start-up was also launched in September 2018 with CHERRISK in Hungary. CHERRISK represents a new model for insurance sales and customer interaction aimed specifically at web-savvy customers and featuring a high degree of interaction along with numerous self-service options.
In addition, this also helped drive internal corporate digitalisation forward significantly. For instance, we implemented a new core insurance solution in Romania for administering life insurance, and also launched a similar project in Russia. Tests were carried out in numerous country organisations on robotic process automation (RPA), with initial projects also launched here in some cases.
Employee and management training on modern working methods such as design thinking and agile project management is also a critical factor for success with these digitalisation initiatives. We therefore first integrated these topics into the training plans for our management teams in 2018. However, corresponding employee training is also already underway in numerous country organisations.