As the digital market continues to evolve, businesses can take advantage of new opportunities to develop and apply their expertise. Speaking to Bain at a recent World Economic Forum workshop on the digital enterprise, Andrew Rear, CEO of Munich Re Digital Partners, shares the benefits of working with partners to improve digital operations on a global scale.
Read the transcript below.
ANDREW REAR: Munich Re Digital Partners is the digital arm of Munich Re, which is one of the world's largest insurance companies. What we do is provide wholesale insurance capabilities to insurance start-ups, to the large digital verticals and to some industrial companies who have insurance technology needs. Munich Re's heritage is in its expertise and using that expertise to the benefit of the insurance industry as a whole.
And what we realized was that, with the digital evolution, we had an opportunity to change the way we developed and applied that expertise. So we started Digital Partners to work with external partners. We now work with over 30, from insurtech start-ups to digital verticals, and also some industrial companies who are on a similar journey with us, to work with them together to generate insurance solutions for the new economy using new types of data and new analytics.
For us, this is a new source of business; we see the insurtech revolution as one that is going to create a new channel for us to exploit. And Digital Partners is very clearly exploiting that channel and also exploiting the B2B2C channel through large digital-native distributors. It's also a way for us to learn and help our traditional insurance company clients learn as they are going through their own digital journey themselves. Partnerships are the key to our model.
Sometimes, you use a partnership because they're doing something you simply couldn't do yourself. You couldn't recruit that kind of skill into your kind of business. You couldn't access a particular talent pool or a particular group of customers. Sometimes, we also use partnerships just for pace. Even as the digital business sitting on the side, if you like, of a large organization, still we can't operate at the pace that some of our digital-native and start-up partners can. We try our best to use Agile, but the way they use Agile is simply better than we are ever going to be able to do.
So what we simply do is we partner with them to learn from them. And we bring a lot to them, because we have expertise, we have money and we have use cases. So we create a market for them. We're a global business, so we have to operate globally when we do digital as well. Initially, we set the pilot up in the UK. And then we moved to the US, and we built a standalone business. That was a deliberate choice, because at the time that you're building a brand-new business and trying to understand how that business is going to operate, you need flexibility to experiment.
And the easiest way is to build it with a really core group a little bit outside the organization.
But now, as we expand—we're expanding this year or next year into several European countries, into China, Australia, Canada—as we expand, we have to use the capabilities of the wider Munich Re group and be part of the transformation of the wider Munich Re group. So what we're doing is we're building a series of partnerships again, but this time partnerships with our core, traditional Munich Re business, which has expertise and skills. And we now have a model of how to do our kind of digital business.