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‘We are changing people’s thoughts on risk’

Innovation drives change as insurance sector reacts to changing times, says AXA tech boss

INNOVATION is on the increase as businesses across the world adapt to a changing world, says the global head of innovation at leading insurers AXA.

The main driver within the insurance sector is to improve processes and capabilities, says Helene Stanway. Disruptive technologies are transforming the insurance industry and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is fast-tracking adoption as businesses drive down risk.

Innovation in risk assessment, management and transfer will play a hugely important role as we all adapt to the changed and changing world in which we find ourselves,” she said.

Organisations need to drive a culture where people want to innovate. Not one single person can drive innovation – it takes a team and a diverse set of skills to create solutions, Ms Stanway said. “Businesses need to create an incubator for innovation.”

Discussion focused on what it takes to build an entrepreneurial dimension into an organisation entrenched in traditional ways of working. “Large companies are not natural environments for innovation,” Ms Stanway said. However, any business can embed a culture of innovation by incorporating a ‘people sport’ team mentality. 



A self-proclaimed technology novice when she spearheaded the Technology Innovation division of AXA XL, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, Ms Stanway highlighted the innovative technologies which is underpinning insurance solutions today. 

IoT, digital platforms, blockchain, ecosystems, AI and immersive reality are all providing new ways to measure, control, and price risk within insurance, she told participants at the online forum hosted by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership. By harnessing the real time data derived from these systems, companies are transforming themselves, increasing efficiency and driving down their carbon footprint. 

She cited case studies on how insurance innovation has adapted and accelerated helping clients meet challenges, including the significant outcomes Digital Risk Engineer, an innovation which uses the Internet of Things to measure the health of a buildings and its assets 24/7. 

Capturing real-time data across all areas of a business, the Digital Risk Engineer provides round the clock insights into the health of a building including stresses on systems, from the impact of weather changes on the internal environment, system control efficiency, to conflicts of differing internal systems. 

This greater risk oversight and early detection of potential issues has not only produced significant results for many businesses but paved the way for SMART buildings driven by an IoT ecosystem. 

“We are changing people’s thoughts on risk,” she said. “Innovation will keep happening and it will probably continue to happen at a faster pace as we all look to adapt to the changing world around us.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale and has forced us all to look at things differently.”

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