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Digital Innovation in the Insurance Industry

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inscom insurance innovation award The Courage to Innovate Innovations are the trendsetters of the insurance industry – but how innovative is the industry? The keynote speech “Ready for Innovation?” by Dr. Rainer Janssen, CIO of Munich Re and winner of the inscom insurance innovation award launched by msg at inscom 2012, provided some answers to that question. Organizers called on direct insurance and reinsurance providers and institutions of higher education to submit innovative designs for business models, projects, services or products. “With the inscom insurance innovation award, we promote innovation and model innovative skills in the insurance industry,” said Frank Plechinger, CEO of msg systems ag. Dr. Rainer Janßen, CIO, Munich Re Ready for Innovation? This phenomenon is not restricted to the insurance industry, he added. It has affected many companies that are actually successful. The insurance industry is facing huge changes. While many of the megatrends that purport to be cuttingedge are not really that new – for example, cloud computing, which was proselytized years ago, albeit under the guise of network computing – the onward march of digitization will change the business models of companies in fundamental ways. It is high time for innovation, then. At the moment, said Dr. Janssen, the insurance industry is acting “like someone who falls from the window of a building on the 60th floor and thinks to himself on the 30th floor that things haven‘t gone too badly so far.” For example, Xerox: When the patent for photocopiers expired, the company established a research center that invented pretty much everything that played a role in the success of computers in the ensuing years: graphical user interfaces, the idea of a laptop, Ethernet and PostScript. But the only thing that Xerox made market-ready was a laser printer. This means that inventions are not the same thing as innovations. Rather, what sets innovations apart is their readiness for practical use. According to Dr. Janssen, Xerox is neither an isolated case nor a randomly occurring one. Those who want to be innovative, he added, must challenge established models and processes. But it is precisely successful companies that find it difficult to try out new things, to experiment and to take risks. That applies especially to German insurers, which show a strong tendency to cling to what they know. “It is particularly successful companies that have a hard time with innovation, because that always means destroying something they have established, too.” Successful innovation is also a question of the right timing. Because CIOs hold their positions for an average of four years, they often lean too heavily toward short-term accomplishments and are too little inclined to introduce fundamental changes that put pressure on profits in the short run. In spite of this, they are given the latitude to approach important projects, not just complete the urgent ones. “After all, regardless of whether we’re on the 40th or the 30th floor, the floor will come soon enough,” said Dr. Rainer Janssen. Digitization can no longer be stopped – and the insurance industry cannot avoid this trend. 20

Frank Plechinger (left, msg systems ag) and Dr. Rainer Janßen (right, Munich Re) with the winners (right to left) Mario Oettler (University of Mittweida), Dr. Jörg Dahmen (Generali Deutschland), Dr. Andreas Eckstein (Hannover Re) and Régis Delayat (Ruschlikon Initiative). inscom insurance innovation award – the Judges‘ Panel The judges‘ panel for the inscom insurance innovation award comprises top experts from the insurance industry. • Dr. Christian Hofer, longtime member of the Executive Board of HUK-COBURG and former head of the committee on business administration and information technology for the German Insurance Association (GDV) • Dr. Rainer Janßen, CIO of Munich Re • Katja Schuld, managing editor of the trade journal “Versicherungswirtschaft” • Herbert Sebald, editor-in-chief of the trade journal “vb versicherungsbetriebe” • Prof. Dr. Fred Wagner, professor of insurance studies and head of the Institut für Versicherungslehre (Institute of Insurance Studies) at the University of Leipzig 21

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