In Person: Allianz Insurance’s chief information officer, Jacob Abboud

Jacob Abboud

In Person: Allianz Insurance’s chief information officer, Jacob Abboud

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In Person: Allianz Insurance’s chief information officer, Jacob Abboud

Acting like a start up

Management backing and finding the right people

Looking to the future and not building tomorrow’s legacy

Pianos, guitars and drums

On being a technological company, what it has changed for brokers and customers as well as what is coming next.

Jacob Abboud wears three hats.

He is chief information officer (CIO) of Allianz Insurance; he sits on Allianz’s global IT council; and is a member of the UK management board.

Brokers hear a lot about how technology is already altering the landscape and will continue to do so. But rarely do they hear from the people who have to implement the changes within the insurers.

Much of this is because the action goes on out of sight. And so Insurance Age caught up with Abboud to try and find out what is really happening, how it happens and what comes next.

“We are effectively a technology company,” Abboud sums up.

“Technology has to be at the heart of everything we do.”

Gathering pace
According to Abboud, they use it to look at what customers need and then deliver the service. His main role as CIO makes him responsible for how IT can enable the business.

“Looking at data and information is the core of our business,” he stresses.

In his opinion the digital transformation in insurance started around 10 years ago although industry players were “laggards compared to the banking industry”.

And it is now gathering pace.

He details that Allianz is seeking to be more customer centric across both the retail and broker space: “[To] deliver capabilities that customers need in the way of their choosing at the time of their choosing that is convenient to them.”

It is also introducing “automation to ensure you get as much straight-through processing as possible to enable efficiency”.

Jacob Abboud
We are effectively a technology company… Technology has to be at the heart of everything we do

And so a CIO has to looking at a range of factors: transformation, legacy, becoming more digital, becoming a data and insight driven organisation while all the while remembering to deliver on a business as usual basis.

He questions: “How do we enable our employees to be working in a digital way? Sharing info, collaborating, building digital assets in the organisation?”

The legacy piece is particularly interesting.

“Getting rid of legacy systems isn’t particularly easy,” Abboud accepts.

It involves lots of heavy lifting, is costly and can be disruptive to business.

Layer
In his view insurers spent the last 10 years keeping systems running by building a digital layer over the business process management system.

Allowing the two of them to coexist solved the problem for a while but now: “Lot of companies are thinking it is time to bite the bullet on starting a transformation to get away from legacy systems and build the platforms for the future.”

So how far has Allianz travelled on this journey?

His catchphrase for the insurer is “digital by default by design”. Abboud explains that for brokers this has meant the likes of e-traded products on QuoteSME.

“As a group we recognised early on that we had to transform our infrastructure to build a foundation for digital. We started that programme five years ago.”

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