Video interview: CEO Tim Höttges questions Oliver Bäte, CEO of Allianz

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Learn more in this interview about “transparent customers” as wishful thinking of insurance companies, about things typical German and how the journey into digitization can be a good one.

Hello, Dr. Bäte. Great to see you here at CeBIT and that you’re working together with us on opening up digitization for businesses. Does shaping this transformation constitute an opportunity or more of a risk for your business?

I believe it’s a huge opportunity. Because for one, our customers gain added value. Everything that does nothing but cost money, that eats up money - and in some cases it’s a lot - well that disappears. And we have time to focus on advising customers and on really hedging risks rather than managing how we hedge risks.

And then, we can put together entirely new services, for instance team up with you to provide information. After all, we not only want to assess and quantify risks and then settle any claims, we also want to prevent risks. That means we can develop early-warning systems. So it becomes much, much more exciting.

And third, our employees are much more enthusiastic because they spend more time on the actual business instead of administration.

Big data now has negative connotations with many customers. They’re scared of becoming transparent. They’re scared that everything is becoming transparent. How do you reply to customers when it comes to the notion of the “glass customer”? How as a Group do you define digital responsibility with data?

Well, first of all, let me say that I do understand. I for one am very skeptical because I know from personal experience that all kinds of companies - from Facebook to Google - know a lot about me without my knowing what they know about me. That has to change in future. And it not only applies to insurance companies, it actually applies to all major players.

So I understand people’s concerns when they wonder what’s actually going on. We have a very special task; because people trust us. In Germany almost one in four people is a customer of ours. They have to rely on the fact that we will only use their data in the way we’re allowed to and in the way they want us to. Our guiding principle is that we only use customer data in the way customers explicitly allow us to - as part of a statutory or personal mandate -, and that won’t change.

One last question: Business leaders like you, like me - what would you say are the three main digitization topics that we also have to get across to our employees and customers? What responsibility do we have to assume?

The first thing to say is that it isn’t a threat, but an opportunity. Many people’s initial response is one of fear. I believe that’s a typically German phenomenon if I may put it that way: first we worry, and then we see the opportunities.

And then, we must invest in expertise. Many people don’t even know when they trot out the word digitization what it actually means. Starting with me for one. You need to keep learning all the time.

And third, you need to do it in a practical way, in other words use simple, straightforward topics to show that afterwards it’s better than it used to be. If you manage to do that, the rest will be plain sailing.

Many thanks for joining us here today at CeBIT.

The pleasure was all mine!

Young woman meets Robot

Digital responsibility

Experts discuss about chances and risks of digitization.