Our influence and control
New technologies are transforming the finance and insurance industry. These technologies are changing the way financial products and services are sold. They're also changing the way companies themselves manage their businesses and the kind of skills they need in their workforces. Customers are more demanding; they want speed, ease of use and accessibility. Aegon has direct control over the way it uses (and invests in) new technologies, but we also have to respond to the deeper changes these technologies are bringing to everything from healthcare and travel, to the way we work, do business and live our lives.
Technology makes it easier for us to move into new markets. But if it's easier for us, it's easier for others too. That means increased competition, not just from our peers, but also from new disruptors. We can be more flexible with our workforce – more home-working, for example. We also know there are other big changes ahead. These include increased automation and use of artificial intelligence, which will almost certainly mean further job losses in some areas. We also see a growing need for new and different skills. There's more emphasis now on digital and analytics; more of our business will be directly customer-facing.
In many parts of our business, we're able to lower costs. New technologies also allow us to get much closer to our customers – in an industry where, traditionally, there has been very little direct interaction. More touchpoints will help us understand our customers better, respond to their needs, and build lasting customer loyalty. We need to do more to protect our own and our customers' data – but that data also gives us new insights and enables us to develop new products and services.
What we're doing about it
We're putting more money and resources into new business models. Knab, our Dutch online bank, already has more than 175,000 customers. Meanwhile, our comparison site Go Bear is now active across south-east Asia. We've appointed a Group Chief Technology Officer to drive digitization and, through our corporate venture fund, we're investing in new fintech. Internally, we have our own Center of Excellence for Digital and, in the US, we have the Transamerica Innovation Lab. We're also working to speed up the adoption of new technologies and solutions, including blockchain. Internally, we've put digital at the heart of our Future Fit corporate culture program.