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MS Amlin challenges tradition to keep its edge

As the financial world changes at breakneck speed, MS Amlin is looking at radical new ways to do business. Paul Taffinder, Director of Strategy & Innovation talks about MS Amlin Edge, an innovation lab that is challenging the traditional way we do business.

Think big. Start small. Move fast. It’s from a book about business innovation. But it also describes the modus operandi of MS Amlin Edge.

A year ago we set the team up – a few core members, with contributions from other ‘virtual’ members – to tackle the enormous challenges faced by the insurance industry.

In the business world, there’s a lot of talk about the new disruptors, whether it’s Uber transforming the taxi industry or Airbnb challenging the rental accommodation and travel sector. In  financial services, the new disruptors may not yet be household names, but they are beginning to have the same impact.

So, what can so-called ‘incumbents’ – established operators like MS Amlin – do to maintain market share and continue to provide value to our clients?

Our answer is MS Amlin Edge where we think about innovation on three levels:

1. Tactical innovation. What can we use in terms of what start-ups are doing? What tech is out there or even new business models which might affect how we currently do business? Can these things make us more efficient or deliver more income from how we do business?

2. The next level is radical innovation. This might be to try things that are so different we might even come up with new business models which can completely shift how we operate. The technology that might help us with that could be blockchain – which is changing how the world thinks about storing and exchanging information in the form, for example, of smart contracts, automatically executed – or Artificial Intelligence (AI), which could augment our risk-selection and underwriting decisions.

Right now, we’re working on a blockchain proof of concept, and we’ve managed to make a lot of progress over the last year or so, potentially offering automatic execution, identity verification, settlement and payment. It could be up and running much faster than we believed even six months ago.

3. The final way to look at innovation is to do what we call exploratory innovation. So, this is just to test out ideas in a kind of sandbox, experimental environment, for example, asking questions about what the insurer of the future would look like with 24/7 trading and omnichannel distribution.

As we get ever closer to our clients we are hearing that they care about our capabilities as much, sometimes even more than the policies they take out. They are interested in things like risk mitigation or data analytics that help them to make more informed and better decisions about  the whole of their risk profile. Data is also an area we’re looking at – we see the beginnings of technology which can develop data as a service in its own right, rather than something that is an aid to business as it is at present.

MS Amlin Edge has given us lots to think about, some exciting new ideas, and assured me  that we will be able to conquer the undoubted challenges that lie ahead.

This article is based on a talk Paul Taffinder gave at the InsTech London conference.



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