AXA And The Digital Enterprise

Day 2 at DST ADVANCE 2015, and I’m attending a panel of three people from AXA on how their journey to becoming a digital insurance business. They define digital business as new ways of engaging with their customers: customers that are increasingly more demanding with respect to online and mobile modes of interaction. This is also driven by their need to reduce and simplify paper requirements, internally in their opertions and field sales force, and with their customers. The mandate for their digital enterprise transformation came from top management as an initiative both for better customer engagement and operational efficiencies.

There was a big cultural and change management component here to encourage their field agents and advisor channel to take advantage of the new digital tools, which in turn improves back office effectiveness by, for example, reducing NIGO rates because of rules-driven application forms. In their operations center, this resulted in shifts in resources, and changes to the type of people that they needed to hire and train: less heads-down data entry, and more tech-savvy knowledge workers. They also needed to effect internal cultural changes to become more flexible, and to have closer collaboration between business and IT.

Becoming a digital insurance business has changed a lot in how AXA’s products are created and rolled out, and also in their IT operations: they introduced the role of chief data scientist, and shifted from a waterfall software development methodology to Agile development and integrated business-technical SCRUM teams. Like many insurance and financial services, they have a lot of legacy systems that run their business, and a big challenge ahead of them is to upgrade those to more agile platforms such as their upcoming migration to AWD 10. They’re using Salesforce in some areas, and want to be able to leverage that further in order to reduce the reliance on internal legacy CRM, as well as introducing emerging technologies such as speech analytics that are piloted successfully in a regional center before being rolled out across the broader enterprise. Within IT, they are changing their methods to more of a DevOps model, with a particular focus on quality engineering. They have created some entirely new teams, such as mobile testing, to accommodate emerging technologies, and be proactive with external forces such as mobile OS upgrades.

One area where they have seen success is in offering incentives to drive adoption by the advisors, such as competitions between regions on adoption levels; some of the incentives for adoption and suggesting new digital enterprise ideas include financial and travel benefits. New advisors are required to use the digital services, and existing advisors are becoming sold on the benefits of using the new tools; in the future, they are considering a negative financial incentive for continuing to use paper in order to further drive adoption. In rolling out a new version of an advisor portal, they included a feedback option, then gave priority to implementing the feedback suggested by the advisors; when the advisors realized that they were directly impacting the development of their day-to-day tools, their participation increased even more.

Audience members in the insurance industry also talked about a shift to digital enterprise causing an increase in top-line revenue by expanding markets, not just retaining existing customers and reducing costs. The AXA team echoed this, and the need to envision and evangelize completely new business models rather than just working on incremental improvement.

Key success factors that AXA identified include the merging of business and IT, and engaging the field sales force in defining and developing the digital services in order to create the right things at the right time. It took about a year from the point of their first rollout to widespread adoption, but now the new capabilities and tools are adopted more quickly since the advisors know that this is going to help them sell more and reduce problems in the sales and policy issue cycle.

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