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Allianz, the German insurance major, has inked a strategic partnership with Microsoft for digital transformation in the insurance industry, per a press release. Allianz will move parts of the global insurance platform Allianz Business System (ABS), which provides business processes for contract management and claims processing, to Microsoft’s Azure cloud.
The partnership will also see Allianz develop new Insurance-as-a-Service (IaaS) offerings. Syncier, the IaaS startup founded by Allianz, will offer a new open-source solution built on Microsoft Azure, dubbed ABS Enterprise Edition.
The solution, which can be utilized for processes across the insurance value chain, can be customized for insurance firms irrespective of their size and regulatory requirements, among other things. Syncier will also operate an insurance software marketplace based on Azure cloud that’ll offer solutions like customer service chatbots and AI-based fraud detection. The aim of this marketplace is to enable insurers to quickly and easily implement digital solutions to their offerings.
The insurance industry has, by and large, struggled to digitally transform — a state of affairs that can open a large addressable market for Syncier’s ABS Enterprise Edition. Insurance firms lag behind banks and nonfinancial service firms in their digital transformation journey in four areas: customer experience, operations, business model innovation, and talent and organization, per Capgemini.
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For instance, when it comes to customer experience, only 30% of insurers said they have the capabilities required for digital transformation, 7 percentage points lower than nonfinancial service firms and 11 percentage points lower than banks. Given these struggles among insurers to master digitization, Syncier’s latest solution and marketplace could gain significant traction.
While helping competitors’ digital transformation may put pressure on its own business, Allianz’s approach highlights how digitally innovative players can tap into new revenue streams. It’s interesting that Allianz is developing solutions that ostensibly help its competitors, especially incumbents that are digital laggards. It wouldn’t seem inconceivable that, by providing these players with solutions to help them better compete, the company stands to threaten its own business.
However, this approach could pay off: Allianz is likely aware that incumbents are going to invest in digital transformation one way or another, and by providing its own solutions, it stands to make money from these efforts. And, although nascent, we’ve seen this business approach increasingly coming to the fore in banking: Westpac, Australia’s second-largest bank by market capitalization, announced it’s building a digital Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform earlier this month, for instance, while Spanish banking giant BBVA launched its BaaS platform in the US in 2018.
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