Inaugural visit to Factory Berlin

Digitalisation & innovation, 28.07.2017

Berlin, once a divided city is now the throbbing start-up heart of start-ups in Germany – and even of Europe. At ERGO, we bundled up all our innovation activities in the Factory Berlin. I came here at the start of our partnership so that I could talk directly with the members of this lively community. The site was great. When I arrived at the historic brewery building immediately next to where the Berlin Wall once stood, one could feel it. The atmosphere was contagious. Whether they were from the worlds of politics, major companies, start-ups or freelancers, in every corner people were beavering away at digital solutions and innovations. It was good to see that great ideas can be generated not just in the Far East or in Silicon Valley but a whole lot was going on right here in the middle of Berlin. I was really, really pleased that this is possible.

Initial cooperation in the Factory

It was quite evident from my first talk with the start-up "Future of Voice" that we were benefiting from this new location. The founders program so-called "skills" for Alexa, Amazon's digital language assistant. ERGO staff from our Digital Lab are working jointly with them on an Alexa skill for ERGO. It has been clear for a long time that there is a lot more to it than just the technical implementation, it’s also about the needs and behaviour of the Alexa users. What products and services are particularly interesting to them? And how do we work it all out so that Alexa offers ERGO clients exactly what they are looking for? This exchange with the company showed me: the factory is a platform where it is easy for us to come into contact with many interesting discussion partners and where we can quickly identify trends and opportunities. I am convinced that we can implement innovations even more systematically by working with the Factory community as the bottom line is that we must make innovations something that clients can share in and which is useful for them.

Welcome talk: Discussions with the participants

In the evening, there was the "Welcome talk" to which the members of the factory community were invited. I was first interviewed by Niclas Rohrwacher, co-founder of the community, after which I answered participants' questions. More than 100 guests attended. A good feeling! We are part of the start-up scene in Berlin.

One of the things we discussed was client expectations – expectations we want to meet. Clients rightly expect that we attend to their concerns quickly and convincingly. For it, we want to specifically use modern technology in our processes – and we are also very interested in solutions of our partners.

One of the guests asked me whether insurers would still exist ten years from now. I’m quite sure they will! Protection from risks will still be an important offer for our clients and society. But we must use the opportunities of digitalisation which enable us to better understand our clients and offer them more than ever before. Insurers must change from being risk carriers to risk managers; in addition to provide risk protection, insurers must also tender clients customised services and continuously update them.

The exchange after the Welcome Talk reinforced the impression I already gained at the Digital Insurance Agenda in Amsterdam: many of the people from the start-up scene I talked to see themselves not as classic "assailants" but as potential partners.

The inaugural visit to the Factory demonstrated to me that ERGO is a sought-after partner for many start-ups and potential cooperation partners. We are on the right track and have made an important step forward by combining all our innovation activities onto one site. But of course we want to move forward systematically. This is just the beginning. I look forward to everything that we will jointly achieve in the Factory.

I also look forward to your comments, questions or suggestions.
Mark Klein

Author: Mark Klein

Mark Klein is Chief Digital Officer ERGO Group and Chairman of the Board of Management of ERGO Digital Ventures AG. Here you find Mark Klein on LinkedIn.

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