Zurich Innovates Traditional Industry

How Zurich is Innovating Traditional Industry

We are proud to announce that our new Black Diamond partner Zurich Insurance has joined WORLDWEBFORUM in the quest for transformational leadership.

On January 18th, at the 7th annual meeting in Zurich, we sat down with Giovanni Giuliani, Group Chief of Strategy, Innovation & Business Development at Zurich Insurance, to understand just how they are changing the face of the traditional insurance industry.

WWF: How is Zurich Insurance responding to the disruption of traditional industry?

We are in an industry that needs fundamentally to rethink the relationship with the customer. It’s not the innovation per se, but the customer experience. So if you start from the customer’s business and if you put yourself in the customer’s shoes, then you understand that connecting with the customer is the key.

You need to be connected. You need to understand what’s happening in their life, every moment in their home, in their cars – the Internet of Things makes all this possible. Through connectivity, you understand that you can provide much more than just the risk transfer payment, and you can actually provide services.

So insurance is now becoming a service delivery mechanism and is not anymore just paying for damage or loss.

Connectivity is the key to customer understanding
Connectivity is the key to customer understanding
What needs to change for you to get closer to the customer?

A shift in technology towards sensors and Internet of Things, will be used to build a service that can reward clients, similar to a loyalty programs. This model is all new to insurance and so is also new to risk insurance.

So whatever you do needs to be rooted in really understanding customer needs and customer intelligence. Technology must be boosted a lot in the organization.

How does internet of things benefit the customers of insurers?

The smart phone is the ultimate connected device for consumers, but so are digital health wearables like fitbits, as well as smart home devices such as connected heating, security or utilities systems.

Today our value proposition requires us to encompass all of them, make sense of them and then announce their utility through their safety that only an insurance can provide.

Also, if we go up the value chain, working with property developers to ensure connected home systems makes the user experience more powerful, so power outages, leaks and other mishaps can be determined and fixed in real time, making the customer experience so much more seamless than the traditional way of doing things.

Smart home technology, used respectfully, will produce win-wins
Smart home technology, used respectfully, will produce win-wins
Do you think your clients will be willing to share the sensors in their homes with you as an insurance company?

First of all, they ask for it. Secondly, if you provide value, and do not impose, and what you produce from the data is useful and enables you to provide new services – clients benefit from that and are happy to share. A relationship based on trust is key. We are fortunate that we enjoy a lot of trust.

Insurance is an institution which you can trust and it is our intention to uphold that trust.

And so, with these assets comes the opportunity to serve them better. And, if this is done with a good intention and is a means to an end with good features, it will be win-win.

How does Zurich source ideas for innovation?

Amongst other initiatives, we have established a network of relationships around the world, with the most important source being startups. Recently we have done something unique in the industry: we have launched a worldwide innovation competition.

Our global reach around the world makes uniquely positions us to run a competition like this. We launched this competition with a set number of topics, and we received more than 450 applications from startups all over the world.

Through several rounds of selection, the eight finalists came to Zurich at the end of January, where they presented their ideas and services to our Executive Committee. Together, they decided on four winners. Each winner now has the opportunity to develop pilot programs in the local businesses to make their products and services available to the Group’s customers in selected countries and regions.

I’m very much in favor of this initiative because this is a way to connect with the external world where the really exciting innovation is happening.

Note: In the meantime the winner of the Zurich Innovation World Championship was announced Jan 30, 2019. Read more here.

Vision of the future: drone holograms for the construction industry
Vision of the future: drone holograms for the construction industry

For the full interview, listen to the podcast episode..