Expert Interview: Milan Sud, Head of Innovation, AXA Partners UK & Irl At AXA

We spoke to Milan Sud, Head of Innovation, AXA Partners UK & Irl At AXA


Ahead of his presentation at the Open Innovation Summit in London on April 25 & 26, we spoke to Milan Sud, Head of Innovation, AXA Partners UK & Irl at AXA.

As Head of Innovation for AXA partners UK and Ireland, Milan is responsible for setting and delivering on our innovation strategy, this involves utilising an open innovation ecosystem to deliver on: new distribution, differentiation, efficiency and cross-sell/upsell opportunities. Sitting across multiple product lines and sectors I am driving change for existing clients and new partners.

How can innovators prepare their business for a transformed future? (digital, blockchain etc.)

In order to prepare for a future which will be dominated by technologies such as AI and Blockchain, it’s really important to interrogate the actual use within your business and not get caught up in the buzz of what could end up being (the non-existent) pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. There are a huge number of use cases that these technologies can positively impact but it’s about identifying those that are most crucial to your business. By taking a couple of use cases that are backed by data you can focus your teams on solving challenges with technology rather than trying to find problems that fit the tech.

How has innovation strategy been affected by the rise of the gig economy?

As an insurer, this is a really interesting topic as it is forcing our business to look at products which are: on demand, bespoke and often covering very short time periods. This is almost the antithesis of the traditional insurance model which relies on huge amounts of data and lengthy contracts in order to price risk. The gig economy is forcing us to look a lot more to preventative rather than reactive models. As an industry how do we prevent the issue arising in the first place rather than paying out when it does? People are faced with more choice than ever in their lives and this is now extending into when they work. The traditional 9-5, I think, will become non-existent and therefore risk profiles and demands change. We need to match that change.

What technology do you believe to be the next big industry disrupter and why?

I think for our industry the rise in connected devices is going to be a fundamental disruptor. Across all products: Motor, Home, Travel, Lifestyle, and gadgets, we are seeing the demands of an ‘always on’ society changing the game. Customer expectation is now around proactive service rather than reactive - the insurance contract sitting in the drawer isn’t enough. The consumer is asking how they will be served proactively if they are more connected. This is changing the industry to be more service led. Rather than your home emergency or motor breakdown policy becoming an add-on to insurance, this dynamic is flipping with the service led elements taking front and centre and the insurance contract itself becoming secondary. This dynamic will only accelerate as our adoption of smart tech does.

Can you outline a few best practices for approaching open innovation collaboration across industries?

- Start small, prove and scale

- Be clear of KPI’s from outset

- Solve a real problem, your solutions should be data driven

- Understand how lines between sectors are becoming blurred, the traditional value chain no longer applies

- Understand the difference between innovation for show and innovation for dough!

In a big multi-national, how are you fostering a startup ecosystem for fearless innovation and rapid growth?

In an organisation like AXA it’s easy to get lost in the number of sectors, products, and partners. The real goal for us is to start small on identified use cases and scale in a sustainable way. I have seen too often great start-ups work with corporates and get lost in what they COULD do and actually end up delivering nothing. The other half of this dynamic is fostering controls and processes that don’t kill a proposition before it has begun. In larger organisations there is a tendency to try and make a start-up fit your existing set of processes. It’s important to remember that whilst the corporate does, a startup might not have a whole department of people dedicated to compliance. Both sides have to flex, I guess that’s the key message. Start-ups will be frustrated by the slow monolith and corporates will struggle with the pace and demands of working with start-ups, like all good relationships it’s about give and take!

You can hear Milan's presentation at the Open Innovation Summit in London on April 25 & 26.

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