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AXA is a global insurance company with offices in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Operating since 1859, the company employs over 100,000 people worldwide and is one of the largest insurance providers in the world.
Like many financial services companies AXA has experienced significant change as digital advancements, evolving customer needs and new competitors present themselves. To adapt to shifting market conditions, AXA Asia has adopted an agile approach to improve their competitive advantage.
“AXA’s overall aim is to empower customers to have a better life. Our role in this is to simplify insurance,” says Michelle Loke, AXA Digital Services and Engagement Team Lead. Ms Loke’s team manage the digital platform in support of the customer journey − with products that cover insurance needs right throughout the customer lifecycle. “The customer has become a lot more digitally savvy. They are able to do a lot more through self-service, and they prefer it that way. Because of this, we’ve changed the way we interact, the way we sell, and the way we get their insurance sorted online.”
The digital team have embraced an agile approach to developing and managing products such as their MyAXA mobile app where high levels of uncertainty and complexity that meant it was well suited to an iterative approach.
Supporting them on their agile journey, AXA has partnered with SoftEd to provide in-house agile training for their team in Asia. This includes training in agile fundamentals, product ownership and agile leadership for the wider AXA group.
“The training has been important to help us to align on agile principles and develop an agile culture. SoftEd has also helped connect us with the community, shared real-world examples, and case studies which have been very valuable.”
“What we’ve gained is a strong starting point to form a questioning framework. When approaching a problem, we know how to first take a step back and then breakdown the real requirements to work out what the minimal viable product is. We now have the holistic approach and strategic view to be able to do that. We are much more impact and outcome focussed.”
Ms Loke says a more agile way of working has changed the way the team communicates and collaborates with stakeholders and their ability to move from initiation to deployment. “With different stakeholders coming from different lines of the business – it’s about being able to pull them together. When we look at requirements, we need stakeholder buy-in. Since engaging stakeholders can be tricky, it’s a good way to take them along on the journey. The stakeholders aren’t caught by surprise with any changes.”
An agile approach has placed the customer at the centre of their efforts. “Overall it is important to understand the customer journey and to take a customer-focussed approach to a solution by working out an MVP and improve from there.” The digital team are already seeing improvements in customer feedback loops. Using the MyAXA app, customers provide real feedback, ask questions and can provide insight into the customer experience.
Ms Loke acknowledges agile is as much about a cultural shift as it is about adopted new principles and practices. “We still have a journey to go, but we are adopting a more agile way of thinking. I think we’ll see a greater uplift of an agile way of working and cross-functional teams.”
“We’ve seen a fundamental shift – the team can see the logic in an agile approach. In a traditional sense, developing a product could become a checkbox exercise. When we put a strategic hat on, it’s quite different. Mindset and outcome become the focus.”