Aviva’s Head of Innovation Operations On InsurTech Disruption

This week we chat to Paul Heybourne, Head of Innovation Operations at Aviva, about the future of the insurance industry. We’ve been working with Aviva to help track the InsurTech innovation insights and use Catalyst to help the digital team stay ahead of these key trends.

1. Can you tell us a little about your job as Head of Innovation Operations at Aviva?

I work out of Aviva’s London Digital Garage, which is one of the many digital work places we have established globally to transform Aviva into a digital company. A key part of my role is working with new start up technology businesses that we have identified as having the potential to help our customers or where we are able to help them grow their business. We look to marry their solution to an identified business problem or opportunity, on-board them into the organisation to carry out some initial tests of their capability, and then if successful – enable the pilot scale to a production level standard.

Paul Heybourne

As an innovation team we focus on a number of future technology themes, which enables us to develop deep knowledge of emerging ecosystems. One of my main focuses currently is ‘Connected Car ’ which covers the broad range of activity from consumer retrofit devices such as telematics and dashcams, to full vehicle autonomy. We are starting to see some significant changes in motoring and as a large motor insurer we are taking steps to be at the forefront of those changes.



2. What is the role of innovation with Aviva and your physical space, the Digital Garage?

Our innovation strategy revolves around three core pillars: building new products, partnering with startups and investing through Aviva Ventures. We provide foresight for the organisation on the new emerging technologies and trends that will be relevant to us and our customers, and where the market is going. We then provide the validation by undertaking small proof of concepts and taking them to market to test the capability and the customer response.

The Digital Garage is a great working environment in the heart of London’s tech city that helps us attract talent and engage with new start up businesses, but the Digital Garage is about more than innovation – it houses teams with the capabilities that are deployed to Aviva’s Digital Businesses around the world including Engineering, Digital Product & Design, Customer Analytics and Digital Marketing. We have also established similar workspaces around the globe, including our Digital Garages in Singapore and Canada.


3. How has the insurance industry changed over the last 5 years?

The insurance industry has been hard to deal with and not great at digital solutions. So it’s not surprising that we have seen a number of new players enter the market – start ups that are tackling specific areas of the insurance value chain. We’ve also seen insurance products evolve to cover new customer needs such as the growing threat of Cyber Risks and new consumer needs such as the Sharing Economy. And of course, larger firms like ours are changing at pace as well. It is a really exciting time of the industry.

It is a really exciting time of the industry – its still yet to be digitally disrupted, so for me there has never been a better time to be involved in it!


4. Aviva has partnered with Founders Factory to invest in five fintech / insurtech startups from artificial intelligence, blockchain to virtual reality. How does Aviva partner with startups to drive innovation?

We have a number of different streams to engage with start ups: From the set up of Aviva Ventures which invests in startups businesses, partnering with accelerators like Founders Factory, as well as co-creation with start ups from within our London Digital Garage. We are taking a multi-stream approach to this, because from my experience there is no single universally proven approach to innovate within a large corporate. In addition to the partnership with Founders Factory in the UK, we have an extensive startup partnership programme in multiple locations, including Silicon Valley in the US, Canada, Singapore and Israel.

Aviva Digital Garage in Shoreditch


5. What do you think are the key trends impacting the insurance industry today?

The emergence of technologies like AI and Automation that are enabling the industry to become much more efficient, and create a far more engaging and consistent customer experience; automating claim approval for instance and making payment at the point of notification, which reduces costs for us and improves the experience for the customer.

Emerging connected eco-systems such as Connected Car and Connected Home also present our industry with great opportunities to understand more about the customer, tailor products to meet their individual personal needs and start to shift the insurance model to one of prevention and engagement, rather than the current ‘fix’ model.


6. Finally, how does Catalyst help your innovation team track InsurTech innovation?

Insurance is a hugely broad topic from car, home, travel, pet, health, retirement savings and investments. Technologies and startups are operating across the full range of products and its important our team keep abreast of the technology developments and market activity that is happening globally. Catalyst helps surface the news stories that are relevant and package this insight up for our team and in a format we can share with the rest of our business stakeholders to help inform and educate.

Aviva Tracking InsurTech

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If you would like a demo of Catalyst then get in touch via info@editoreye.com