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Insurance innovation: fostering a revolution with Generali

Publish date: 01 December 2021

Stefano Bison, Group Head of Business Development & Innovation, explains how the company’s “Innovation and Digital Transformation” pillar helps them deliver world class experiences to every stakeholder.   

What makes your company truly innovative?

Innovation is in Generali's DNA: our heritage, present, and future. We have been continuously innovating and reinventing ourselves to remain competitive over 190 years.

"Innovation and Digital Transformation" is one of the three pillars of our strategy where we committed to invest 1bn€ to transform our organization. 

Our vision "Innovation Everywhere for Everyone" means innovation is not limited to our 15+ dedicated teams, 100+ Champions, or one global community, but is embedded in the daily efforts of our 70,000 colleagues in ~400 companies and 50+ countries. To date, this translated to hundreds of innovation projects of which 96 were co-financed centrally.

Innovation crosses the boundaries of insurance, as demonstrated by the accelerator we recently co-founded with Sanofi, Orange, and Capgemini on the healthcare of the future.

Our efforts have been recognized internationally with several prizes including 4 gold and 1 silver medals in 2020 EFMA/Accenture awards including Global Innovator of the year.

What are the major goals and results obtained from your ongoing innovation strategy? 

The goal of the "Innovation and Digital Transformation" strategic pillar is to deliver world class experiences to our customers, agents, and employees. We focus on improving both internal processes and the customer experience by leveraging both external and internal innovation.

Recent examples include: 

• External innovation: AI-based Baby Needs Recognition (a device that translates the cry of a newborn into 5 basic needs and diseases), Highway Parametric Microinsurance (automatic toll refund in case of delays), Smart Savings (automatic contributions to your pension by rounding up card transactions).

• Internal innovation: Smart Gallery Pro (AI-leveraging images to streamline motor claims); City Forward (predictive ML model driving real estate investments); AI meets sustainability (AI tool reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings)

Innovation projects start lean and locally and quickly scale up into cross-country global assets.

So far, this contributed to reaching +9 points in RNPS and an industry-leading combined ratio below 90%.

How is a culture of innovation achieved across your company?

"Innovation" is one of our "Lifetime Partner Behaviors" describing how we serve our customers and work together. Every colleague receives regular trainings and communication on the subject.

We developed a new "WeInnovate" methodology: a best-in-class way of working, allowing everyone to execute innovation, achieving concrete results in a consistent and replicable way. We distribute it at three levels of training. So far, we reached:

- Basic (awareness): 6,000 / 10,000 people registered as of April

- Intermediate (deliver): target is 1,000 – creating a global group of experts

- Advanced (steer): target 100 – creating a network of coaches

Breaking the silos and allowing ideas, people, and cultures to cross pollinate is vital to fostering innovation. For these reasons, we have launched ~45 communities of practice and experts (e.g. Innovation, Business Development, AI, Smart Automation, Motor & Mobility) allowing colleagues to work on cross-functional projects and new concepts.

How does your company manage the overall innovation process?

Innovation is embedded in the fabric of the organization with innovators working closely with our customers in all ~400 companies globally. A series of assets collaborate to execute innovation:

- A group Innovation Team coordinates efforts and scales best initiatives. It leverages a network of 100 champions who coach initiatives locally.

- A dedicated Business Development and Partnership team scouts new start-ups and business models, monitors and shares new trends.

- The Generali Innovation Fund allows business units to share the financial risk inherent in innovation. 

- The communities of experts / practitioners spot new trends and share emerging best practices.

- Our CorpUp studio (HITS) identifies the most promising startups, allowing them to evolve and co-develop solutions.

- Jeniot is the group's pioneering IoT center of excellence.

For external innovation, we leverage key relationships: from memberships at industry associations (e.g. EFMA, investments in consortia (e.g. B3i) and partnerships with accelerators (e.g. PlugANDPlay, GrowITUp, H-Farm, InsurTechHub, F10).

To know more about innovation in insurance and read more of these interviews, download your free copy of our Voice of the Insurers paper written by Dr. Robin Kiera.