Chris Du Bois, Chief Digital Officer, Allianz Life [FWB:ALV]
Could you give us a brief overview about the Digital Experience Platform? What are the trends shaping up and where are these leading to?
The digital experience really starts with a user-first angle. At Allianz Life, we look closely at what our customers need from us in terms of information, capabilities, and the channels they wish to use to achieve their objectives—both online and offline. Our platform includes mobile optimized web capabilities, email, social, CRM, and analytics. These tools work together to allow us to deliver personalized experiences for our users.
From a trend perspective, personalization and omnichannel are key focuses right now. Users expect to be able to switch devices or channels and pick up right where they left off. If we want the best user experience, we need to solve for that in two ways. The first is through technology by having the proper tools to enable the experiences; the second is through very deep customer insights. I also think sourcing data is critical because it needs to come from both structured and unstructured formats through multiple channels. The final trend that is important to our platform is to truly know our customers in order to serve-up the next best interaction.
What are the current market trends you see shaping the digital transformation? What is your take on incorporating those trends and make them effective through your solutions.
In financial services, a current market trend that we’re seeing is that more blue-chip companies are partnering with start-ups to bring capabilities to market. Some of the bigger players in the industry have realized they can’t just build everything on their own. But, instead they’ll be better served by working with smaller, nimbler firms who operate in a space adjacent to their industry. For example, at Allianz Life, we need to work both a local and global scale with our parent company in Europe. Thus, digital partnerships will be prominent on our agenda going forward.
Another trend shaping the industry is a shift to biometrics in the next wave of security enhancements. Things like fingerprint or touch ID are already pretty ubiquitous, so the next step will be to utilize more voice and retina recognition. You also can’t talk about trends without mentioning artificial intelligence (AI). I think the lines between big data and artificial intelligence are often blurred. In my mind they are highly complementary. And whereas AI may have once been unique to big computers, we now have a generation of AI-equipped smartphones that are up to the task whether on or offline. So, we need to rise to the challenge of supporting AI through our digital solutions.
A final solution that I see becoming more common is the use of chatbots because they offer a great opportunity for the financial services industry. Getting to market with easy-to-use, always on chatbots to handle a variety of customer inquiries is imperative to a great overall experience for the customer.
What are the advantages of digital transformation in emerging the enterprise software to meet the needs of companies, any thoughts on this?
Currently, there are many opportunities to integrate systems in a seamless manner to create outstanding experiences for employees as well as customers. While I have a bias because of my role and my past experience, there are few priorities more important these days than digital transformation. One exception I can think of, however, would be human capital which is still the core value proposition that any company can offer. But, with that being said, delivering on the promise of digital to drive customer satisfaction and loyalty while supporting business results comes in at a close second.
Any other insights you would like to discuss about that would help our readers be on the peak of the prevalent happenings in the technology space?
One insight I like is the notion of a zero-click experience. As a consumer, if I’m willing to share a significant amount of information about myself, shouldn’t I expect the providers of goods and services to anticipate my needs and deliver them without having to move a muscle or think about it? I believe this is an interesting concept that we will see play out over the next few years.
“ If a company wasn’t born digital, then it’s critical to understand the promise of digital transformation ”
What is your advice for budding technologists in the Digital space? How do you see the evolution a few years from now with regards to disruptions and transformations within DXP?
My simple advice is to always be open to learning and connecting the dots. As a professional in the digital space, be keen to observing how you personally interact with technology and then apply it to what you do professionally. This can be eye-opening. If I were just starting out right now I would tell myself to spend a significant amount of time on data and AI—both are very promising and have meaningful career paths.
As far as disruption goes, consumer demand is already ripe for purely digital experiences. For those of us in regulated industries, we may have to work together more than ever to drive these experiences and meet the needs of our customers in an ethical and compliant manner.
How important it is to have a team that understands Digital Transformation. If you had three things to say to someone, what would be the three most important bullet points to focus on in developing their Enterprise?
It’s important to note that if a company wasn’t born digital, then it’s critical to understand the promise of digital transformation and what it will do to scale and sustain business and keep your customer base loyal.
The top three bullet points could include:
• Create strong talent and culture. Having the right people working together in the right environment are core to success.
• Avoid over-engineering solutions. Understand that something better may be just around the corner. With that said, continue to pick great software partners who can help deliver high-quality experiences.
• Be open to learning and optimization. I’ve seen some initiatives fail because they seek perfection—too much time, too much cost, too little customer input. Instead, utilize a ‘speed to value’ approach by putting capabilities in the hands of the customers and seek ongoing input from customers to continue getting better and easier-to-use. In this way, projects will be successful because rather than seeking perfection, kinks can be worked out before releasing a new digital asset or feature more broadly.