Digitalization at the heart of the transformation of AXA Assistance

Digitalization poses many challenges for AXA Assistance as well as bringing  great opportunities. Alexis de Schonen, Digital Transformation and Strategy Director, and Roman Puszka, Chief Compliance Officer and Data Privacy Officer, discuss this issue.

Does digitalization play a central role at AXA Assistance? And if so, which one?

Alexis de Schonen : Digitalization is the major focus of our transformation in the AXA Group and particularly at AXA Assistance, a specialist in emergency response and daily assistance in four areas: auto, travel, home and health. Our digital transformation process is essentially based on three main fields of action.

First, we need to develop our ability to position ourselves in new markets, which we couldn’t access before the digital era. This includes diversifying our distribution channels by moving towards online distribution. For example, we have recently opened a dozen travel insurance sites worldwide. We are also considering a more multichannel strategy. This might have a marginal impact today but it will continue to grow around connected devices and robotics. The second main field of action is improving the customer experience. This is becoming a competitive advantage thanks to digital tools. Finally, we are working to develop a digital culture at AXA Assistance by educating our teams about digital issues, developing open innovation … This cultural dimension is extremely important to supporting our transformation.

How can you ensure customer data security while allowing for the smoothest possible customer experience?

Alexis de Schonen : The AXA Group is very engaged in this issue. Data security is a critical subject that we monitor and control very closely. It should be noted that AXA Assistance is required to put a minimum percentage of its investments in security issues. Data security is a constant struggle and we bend over backwards to incorporate ever-higher standards of security in all our digital assets.

Roman Puszka : Data security is a technical means to ensure that we are in compliance with our data protection obligations. The AXA Group is particularly concerned about this issue and wants to position itself as a leader in it. Last year, the Group published a declaration of data privacy in which it makes several commitments to its customers about data security.

The AXA Assistance Group is present in 34 countries, sometimes as a small entity. What is the impact of digital on compliance and risk management for a group as widely scattered as AXA Assistance?

Roman Puszka : The role of the Data Privacy Compliance department has doubled, especially when it comes to everything related to digital. We intervene to support the inventiveness of Alexis de Schonen’s teams. Digital issues are first studied at the central level in the holding company then a data privacy officer in each subsidiary implements them locally. We also promote a working environment that allows the company to develop digital projects. Compliance with personal data regulations is at the heart of the issue. This is further complicated by the fact that AXA Assistance wants to have uniform standards on data privacy despite the big disparities between countries. Another fundamental problem is that we often act as a service provider. In this case, it is the intermediaries who contact customers. We don’t necessarily have control over the information that is given to the customer on the use of their data. Raising employee awareness about digital problems is paramount to promoting compliance within the Group and limiting risk. To do this, our internal network ONE is very useful. We will soon also benefit from an e-learning tool.

What about Big Data? Is it useful to you in monitoring your global operations, for example in detecting fraud?

Alexis de Schonen : We have actually used Big Data to work on fraud in auto repair, to check whether the billing corresponded to the service provided. We detected some cases of fraud but mostly we observed an effect we had not anticipated. By making data available that existed but was not previously available, Big Data has radically changed the way that the network and assistance agents deal with repair shops and service providers on a daily basis. This enrichment of the relationship goes well beyond our initial expectations and brings more value to the medium term than only fraud prevention.