/QBE gets pragmatic with innovation (via Qpute.com)
QBE gets pragmatic with innovation

QBE gets pragmatic with innovation (via Qpute.com)

In 2017, researchers
from QBE‘s Digital Innovation Lab filled a
soon-to-be-demolished residence in Wisconsin with smart home tech, including
Google Homes and Amazon Alexas. Once everything was connected and configured,
they set the house on fire.

“If you had all
these devices that you rely on heavily at home and a fire occurred what would
their reaction be?” explains the global lab’s chief Jesmin Gill.

It turns out, not much
of a reaction at all.

“Could we say if
you have these devices your home is a bit more safe or that you’re protected through
early warning? But no. Doesn’t do anything. Just expensive tech burning
down!” Gill tells CIO Australia.

Other experiments in
recent years have seen drones scrambled in the wake of a natural disaster
to assess and process insurance
claims faster
and IoT sensors fitted to farm machinery to detect
overheating engines.

Despite some
promise from these proof-of-concepts, over the past eight months, the insurer
has adjusted its stance on innovation. Although the “horizon three”
research into things like blockchain and quantum computing continues, Gill says
the focus now is on “things that are more practical for the

“What could we
actually prototype that the business can start putting in place today?”
she says.

Pragmatic innovation

QBE is Australia’s largest
global insurer. It established its innovation lab in 2016 to help it ‘make a
call’ on which emerging technologies could improve its business, and which were
‘simply noise’.

Jesmin Gill
Jesmin Gill

establishment came before a period of big losses, class actions and the departure
of CEO John Neal in 2017. Under new
chief executive
Pat Regan, the company has become, in his words “simplified
and more focused” – or as some
have put it
“a boring, sensible QBE”.

In turn, the labs are
becoming increasingly focused on developing pragmatic, practical innovations.

“There are a lot of CIOs
and CTOs with innovation labs. Atlassian or Google throwing millions at R&D
makes sense, but we’re a financial institution so we’ve got to be pragmatic. The
underpinning challenge…is we do want to come up with robotics and exciting
tech, but we’ve also got to be practical,” Gill says.

“In insurance there’s a
lot organisations that have started (an innovation lab) and shut it down. Or it
became the thing to do but it didn’t succeed…We’ve got to find a way to bridge the
gap between amazing technology and what the business needs are now and what our
customers are asking for at a simple level. So you can give them all the whizz-bang
but if they don’t know who to call for their claim, is that really a good
experience?” she adds.

A recent output of the more
pragmatic innovation effort is a proactive messaging service, which sends
customers in areas due to be hit by extreme weather information about how to
claim if their property is damaged.

“Our internal team
can assess the weather patterns and based on that send out an email to a certain
customers that we think will be impacted by a storm or fire or catastrophe,”
explains Gill.

.(tagsToTranslate)innovation(t)change management(t)Microsoft(t)agile(t)research(t)digital(t)Xbox(t)qbe(t)insurance(t)lab(t)drones(t)IoT(t)digital delivery(t)chatbots(t)digital transformation(t)Jesmin Gill

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