25 June, 2007
According to the recent Deloitte report, Global Insurance Industry Outlook: Issues on the horizon 2007, "when it comes to innovation, many insurance companies have tended to play it safe" and that "they need to develop innovative new products that will allow them to differentiate themselves from the competition".
Another of the Deloitte report’s conclusions is fully supported by Allianz, in particular, that insurers "need to look beyond the products themselves, and consider ways to create broader value propositions, that combine products, services and distribution strategies". Allianz’s success in driving the innovation needed to deliver this and other outcomes was apparent when it took stock of the outcomes of its group-wide innovation initiative, 'ideas to success' or, as it is known internally, 'i2s'. One year after the initiative's launch, employees around the world have generated over 28,000 ideas.
Allianz's group-wide innovation initiative, 'ideas to success', was launched in 2006
Any company that wants to survive in a competitive market has to be innovative and it would be unusual to find a company that doesn’t have an employee idea scheme. So what is it that makes Allianz's innovation initiative different? "Firstly, innovation at Allianz is about more than simply inviting employees to submit their ideas," explains Veit Stutz, Group Innovation Manager at Allianz. "It is focused on creating a culture of innovation across the company that will make 'being innovative' a natural part of every employee’s daily work."
"And it really is every employee," he emphasises. "The innovation initiative is open to every member of the organization, regardless of level, location or business unit".
In addition, Allianz's 'ideas to success', is a decentralised project, with a team of innovation experts at head office in Munich creating the overall framework, for a community of 72 Local Innovation Managers (LIMs) in 37 countries. The LIMs decide how to best implement ideas in their local markets.
Innovation at Allianz is also firmly embedded in the company's strategy: it is a key element in feeding the strategic pipeline for the long term and supporting the initiatives that are driving Allianz in achieving sustainable profitable growth.
Werner Zedelius, who sponsors the initiative at board level, underlines the financial impact of engaging employees. "We are already starting to see financial benefits from 'ideas to success'," he says. "And if we can bring innovation into all business areas and implant it firmly into the DNA of the company, we believe innovation has the potential to provide an even greater total benefit over the next five years."
At the end of 2006, the first ever Allianz Global Idea Campaign was run. For one month, every employee focused on one question: How can we improve the way we differentiate ourselves to our customers? That campaign alone resulted in over 7,000 ideas being submitted, all of which offered new ways in which Allianz can offer superior service to its customers.
Werner Zedelius is convinced that innovation is a part of an even bigger goal. "'ideas to success' is just the first building block in Allianz’s vision to become a trusted innovator," Zedelius says. "By linking innovation with trust, we are sending out a clear message that we're not just innovating for the sake of it, but because we want to create real value for our customers, partners, brokers and agents, staff and, ultimately, the entire organization."
Innovation at Allianz Australia
“The ‘ideas to success’ initiative has been highly successful at Allianz Australia”, according to Nicholas Scofield, General Manager Corporate Affairs. “Our staff have taken to i2s like a duck to water, generating an enormous number of high quality ideas”, he said.
During the second half of 2006, Allianz Australia ran two ‘idea’ campaigns. “The first campaign was based on the global campaign, which focussed on customers and covered the whole company. The second campaign involved using 4 idea topics across 8 Divisions. A total of 441 ideas were submitted across the two campaigns, which was far more than the 100 we initially expected”, Mr Scofield said.
The first of the 2007 ‘idea’ campaigns was launched in March and dubbed ‘Micro i2s’ because it focussed on capturing and sharing good ideas that can be implemented as part of business as usual activity. Under this initiative, each Division is required to submit a monthly innovation return. After the first quarter of Micro i2s, a total of 469 new ideas were generated. Allianz Australia has also created Annual and Quarterly i2s Awards to encourage participation and reward the best ideas. Local winners are then entered into the Allianz Group Global Innovation Awards.
Mr Scofield concluded by saying, “we have been overwhelmed with the success of the innovation initiative at Allianz Australia. Our staff are our best asset and their collective skills, experience and imagination has generated an incredible amount of innovative ideas. One of our biggest challenges has been to put in place the processes and resources to review and implement new innovative ideas because many more are being generated that we ever expected.”
Allianz Australia Insurance Ltd
Ph 02-9390 6596, 0416 088 414
Allianz Australia offers a wide range of insurance products and services including car insurance, home insurance and Life insurance.