Employee Insights

What can an insurance company learn from startups?

by Jessica Suendermann - November 1st, 2017

Chief Digital Officer Solmaz Altin discusses Allianz’ newly launched Global Digital Factory.


What do today’s most successful companies have in common?

All of them focus intently on understanding their customers’ needs. And even more: all of them respond with continuous improvements to the customer experience. Modern customer interactions are digital, simple and straight-forward, with each step in the process carefully considered from the customer’s perspective.

Whether buying flight tickets, booking a holiday villa or ordering an ride to the other side of a city, it is now simpler than ever. Allianz’ customers expect the same simplicity from us.

In January 2016, I was appointed as Allianz’ Chief Digital Officer, with the primary task of reshaping our customer experience journeys and helping Allianz respond to the digital demands of a changing world.

This spring we launched a new unit called the Global Digital Factory, which is reshaping our customer journeys to understand and serve our customers better.


Working at the Digital Factory feels more like working at a small startup than a large, corporate insurer. That is not by accident. Startups work in a way that enables collaboration and rapid innovation, both of which we need to transform our customers’ experiences.

The daily activities at the Factory center around brainstorming, ideation and co-creation. Ideas are generated from speaking with real customers and truly understanding their needs.  Solutions are designed in iterations and tested by customers, with continuous feedback driving improvements. The best thing is that we learn every day. One of our learnings is that work and fun can be well combined, even in a global enterprise. For instance, we are moving this fall to new premises next to the eastern railway station in Munich. On the roof of our loft office called Werk3 we are going to have sheep grazing. Right now we also looking for a shepherd to take care of them.

While using startup techniques to develop customer-centric solutions, Allianz also leverages its world-wide reach for global perspective.  Allianz has the ability to include expert and customer views from around the world, and we ensure each team is populated with members from at least three different countries, who work alongside digital experts in the Munich-based Factory.

Each team works together in a single room, though the surroundings are very different from a typical office space. Here, sticky notes and concept drawings cover the walls, and bean bags outnumber the chairs. Innovation techniques, such as Design Thinking, are being used to engage the group and broaden the team’s perspective.




The idea is to break down the barriers to collaboration, with no one’s opinion valued more than anyone else’s, and everyone is expected to contribute. However the principal innovation driver is quite simple: talk with real customers and learn from them on how we can improve.

This is the type of working environment we have established at the Global Digital Factory.

We are looking for developers, designers, UX experts, digital marketers, and people with all types of digital skills, but most importantly, people with a sense of curiosity and a passion to create great customer experiences. And of course, if you know good shepherds, please let us know. www.allianz.com/careers

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