Digital might be a cliff for AXA, or an opportunity to reinvent itself. Think of collaborative economy applied to insurance: what happens to AXA business model when insurance can be subscribed in peer to peer mode, like we have for loan and with crowdsourcing?
Therefore Axa has developed several initiatives to capture innovation from the outside and bring it to the inside, in order to spark its businesses of tomorrow: not the ‘one big day’ for innovation, rather a continuous approach, ‘innovating like fish schools’.
AXA Lab is an innovation scout located in San Francisco: it works on digital sourcing, detecting latest trends, connecting start-ups and major high-tech players (like Facebook or Linkedin) with AXA, fostering Group’s digital culture, and initiating proof of concepts.
It focuses on:
- Marketing, acquisition, sales, and distribution activities;
- Social Networks, Internet of Things, the Collaborative Economy, and Big Data digital domains.
One particular task regards piecing together fragmented trends: AXA Lab sources innovation, both products and services, identifies interesting start-ups which are not yet ‘on the radar’, and shares its findings with various entities including the Group Digital Partnerships team, located in Paris.
Start-ups act like objects in direct connection with market emerging needs.
Developing digital culture means acculturation with start-up spirit, working with operational teams at AXA on the digital customer journey, enticing delegation and tackling business opportunities, challenging status quo, and seeking for growth relay, in a company historically quite driven by financial KPIs, and ROI oriented. Various Axa lines of business are involved (Property & Casualty Insurance, Life & Savings, Health, Proection), crossed with multiple Distribution channels.
Some budget is available to support pilot projects, to remove bottlenecks in the entity which has to provide human resources in the pilot, and spark innovation fire. Pilot acts as a proof of concept, a market test, and a preparation to scale. 4 POC are targeted per year, including quick wins like reusing Facebook CRM tool, Custom Audience, or testing customized emailing based on social networks personal data with Hearsay Social platform.
Data Innovation Lab
While AXA Lab covers San Francisco area and various digital trends, Data Innovation Lab is focused on Big Data, and based near Paris, within the cradle of AXA online activities (Axa Global Direct). AXA Direct is a business familiar with low margins, which can benefit significantly from Big Data advances. Data Innovation Lab and AXA Direct interact closely on risk analysis, fraud detection, and a small R&D team has been allocated to online activities.
AXA Global Direct and Paris Region Lab, Paris network of incubators, have also recently launched an incubator dedicated to ‘Smart Data for Customer Intelligence’, for start-ups to experiment creative concepts with the support of AXA Global Direct teams, and develop partnerships.
AXA Seed Factory
AXA Seed Factory leads AXA seed funding activities. It manages a €10M fund in France. AXA Seed Factory just closed their first deal with a US-incorporated airfare prediction and optimization technology company: FlyR, originally sourced by AXA Lab.
AXA Participative Innovation Program
AXA Participative Innovation Program is an internal call for ideas on specific business challenges. Best ideas get funding, they are turned into prototypes at Paris Lab, with a view to reach a Minimum Viable Product within 4 months. Ideas come from the corporate as well from the business lines. 2 campaigns are handled each year, and 4 ideas were selected at the first campaign.
It’s bringing fresh air for creativity, and the opportunity to leverage AXA resources to extend entrepreneurial visibility.
Soon AXA Banque
Soon AXA Banque is a mobile banking service specifically designed for tech-savvy youth, to help them monitor their expenses, geolocalizing their payments (turning them into nice memories!), managing its investments, enabling money transfer with Paypal, expressing both fun and confidence through a slick interface (smileys on expenses!).
Digital is an opportunity for AXA to enter a new era, and for that purpose, rather than the Big Bang of innovation, it’s a multiple initiatives approach that has been adopted: innovating like fish schools!