Technology is simplifying the way customers approach and understand financial services, and it provides opportunities for distribution, more personalized experiences and meaningful relationships.
In recent years, we’ve seen massive growth in online financial services. 65% of the world’s population is expected to have access to the Internet by 2020. Customers are increasingly using mobile devices to access information, and to purchase goods and services. Also, they are becoming more accustomed to the ease and convenience of the Internet of Things. They want the same accessibility, transparency, and responsiveness in their life insurance and pensions products. This means that our business has to adapt at a quicker pace than is expected by our customers.
Doing business online means we have more ‘touch points’ with our customers, and opportunities to interact with them in a more meaningful manner. This creates a two-way flow of information and engagement, which gives us more opportunities to enhance our service and the value we bring to our customers. For example, taking the customer’s feedback, financial choices, and even lifestyle into account to develop new products, services, and distribution models. This heightened interaction also opens up opportunities for providing high-quality and personalized financial advice throughout a customer’s life to help them prepare for retirement.
One of our goals is to reduce our operating expenses to become a more efficient and lean organization. This allows us to free up resources, which we can invest in our digital strategy.
The speed at which the digital world is changing provides us with many opportunities. Digital distribution enables us to move into new markets with greater ease and a differentiating customer proposition but with this also comes increased risk. The rise of cyber crime and data (privacy) breaches are a real threat and we need to manage this. We are also aware that this digital environment makes it easier for new entrants to break into new markets. We also need to think and act in line with technological change, and meet the evolving expectations of our customers.
This year, we appointed our Chief Technology Officer, Mark Bloom, to the Management Board, reflecting the importance of this function to the Group. In addition, we have been assessing our global digital competencies. We recognize that not all of our businesses can adapt at the same pace. We discovered that there are pockets of excellence, but that we were not sharing these best practices in the most efficient way. So we continue to expand our Center of Excellence (CoE) for Digital which is applying capabilities across the organization.
CoE employees work on a continual improvement basis across our Asian and continental Europe businesses, but are also deployed at short notice on a project-by-project basis. This helps our business units to accelerate their digital transformation while keeping our costs down. We are therefore better at connecting with our customers. We see an increasing number of customers opting to receive their statements from us by email, or through one of our digital systems. Customers can contact us online or offline, however suits them best.
As part of these continuous improvements, we are already seeing some projects bear fruit. For example, in Asia, our insurance meta-aggregator Go-Bear celebrated its first anniversary in March 2016 – recording monthly double digit growth rates over the course of its second year. In Hungary, VoiceAnalytics® has inspired voice coaching to positively impact call centre quality assurance. Similarly,Transamerica is working with speech and language solutions provider, Nuance, to deploy Voice Biometrics applications for our customers and agents. The technology provides ease of use and additional safeguards to protect our customers, data, and systems.