Michael Eitelwein, Group Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Board of Management at Euler Hermes Group

In this interview, Michael Eitelwein, Group Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Board of Management at Allianz Trade Group, explains how data intelligence, digitalisation and frictionless customer experience are at the centre of how Allianz Trade works.

How important and strategic are technology, innovation and digitalisation to Allianz Trade?

Allianz Trade is built on three main core competencies:

  • The first one is our capacity to monitor the financial health of more than a hundred million companies worldwide.
  • The second one is our capacity to process and analyze this huge amount of information to understand and predict the risks of our customers.
  • The third one is our capacity to combine this data intelligence with our deep insurance technical experience to help our customers trade safely, effectively manage their daily business, and have confidence in tomorrow.

We are at a time where data is becoming increasingly available and the number of alternative solutions to credit insurance is rising. Our value to customers is no longer only about the “what” we provide to them, but about the “how” we provide it: real-time, anywhere, on all devices, and seamlessly integrated in their daily work. It is based on data-driven insights and developed with a fully customer-centric approach. Creating this frictionless customer experience is all about technology, innovation and digitalisation.

From this perspective, technology, innovation and digitalisation are definitively a strategic priority for Allianz Trade and are positioned at the core of our operating model.

Would you say Allianz Trade is leading the way in terms of technology, innovation and digitalisation in the trade credit insurance industry?

I have been following the IT market very closely over the past 20 years. The past five years have seen disruptive changes in IT technology and architecture. Since 2018, as these new IT technologies became mature enough for our industry, we started to review our whole IT set-up using the most modern technologies and architectural standards, and implementing machine learning.

This is opening new horizons for us. It allows us to fully transform and reinvent how we address our customers’ needs and provide them with more added-value solutions and interactions. It also enables us to truly expand to under-served segments, such as the SME market, which we are now in the position to bring concrete value to.

We hear from our tech partners that they are not seeing any other traditional credit insurance company adopting these new technologies at such a speed. If you call this leading, then we are. But it’s not our motivating factor, our customers are the reason why we change and push our boundaries.

Have digitalisation and innovation always been important for Allianz Trade?

If you look at digitalisation as such, it’s all about information processing, and historically we have always processed large-scale information. Information processing is part of our DNA and our customers have the guarantee that the information they get from us is valid no matter the country or the industry. In this perspective, digitalisation is something we’ve been pursuing for decades.

What’s new is that we now have a strong focus on how to improve and digitalise the way we interact with our customers. Our new customer platform Allianz Trade Online is our first achievement and it’s great to see that customers who have started using it are really happy of the value it’s providing them.

Could you give us some concrete examples of how Allianz Trade is transforming the industry and creating a new experience of trade credit insurance?

We have to admit that in the past, most of the solutions we offered were too complicated for business owners to handle without the support of credit risk experts, and that some still are. Today, we believe that our customers shouldn’t just benefit from an insurance solution, but should also have a frictionless customer experience.

This is even truer for SMEs. They need no-brainer credit insurance solutions to focus on what’s most important to them: getting new contracts and growing their business. We are now 100% focused on how we can make our solutions intuitive and easy-to-use for our customers. Simplification and customer-centricity are driving us.

Allianz Trade Online is fully adopting these principles and has been completely designed from a customer perspective. We’ve worked with our customers and involved them at every step. Today, the results are tremendous: Allianz Trade Online is fully intuitive and our customers have adopted the new platform right from the start. That’s the kind of value we want to provide.

And tomorrow? Are there any innovations you can talk about that will bring customer experience to a new level?

We want to become the easiest and most intuitive partner to interact with in the industry. With Allianz Trade Online, our customers are interacting with us by connecting in person to the platform. But some customers also want to interact with us machine-to-machine by hooking up their system to our system. With the modern technology we now use, this is getting very easy to do.

My vision for the future is that our systems and our customers’ systems will automatically connect in real time through APIs. They will spot customer needs to address, based on the data changes and events they experience. This will allow us to provide instantly a relevant solution to our customers. Our end-goal is to be seamlessly integrated in our customers’ value chains and systems allowing for a truly frictionless customer experience. We know there is a huge demand for this and we are progressively doing a step change in enabling this.