Matt is the Head of Digital Culture for Allianz Trade Northern Europe, working to improve digital business transformation. He joined the company back in 1996 after studying German and business at university. Since then, he’s held a wide range of roles in sales, account management, partnerships, finance and controlling, marketing and innovation. Matt has also worked in various offices, beginning in London then moving to Hong Kong, Germany and Singapore.

The digital transformation team

Matt is now back in our London office in the digital transformation team for Northern Europe – covering some 15 countries, ranging from the UK and Ireland in the West, through Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, to Russia in the East.

The digital transformation team is comprised of nine staff and the work they do is vitally important to the organisation. “We live in a world where digital impacts on every aspect of our lives,” he says. “We’ve recognised that the world is changing at a speed that we’ve never seen before and is unlikely to slow down or go back to a time when change isn’t constant.”

“The purpose of our team is to really equip us as an organisation to identify and act upon new digital opportunities as soon as they come along,” he explains. “First of all, it’s about spotting and seizing these opportunities – and then reducing the lag time in terms of adapting and reacting to these opportunities.”

Matt’s own job is to create a positive attitude towards digital transformation. “When you talk about digital innovation,” he continues, “you can talk about data but really we’re talking about people. My role is to foster a culture that embraces constant change and which allows us as individuals and as an organisation not only to survive but to thrive in a digital world.”

Defining digital culture

The terminology used is important to Matt. “It’s not about a digital culture,” he reveals, “because what does the word ‘digital’ even mean? What we talk about is culture for a digital era.”

To create a successful culture for the digital era, Matt and his team are working to instil nine attributes:

  1. Customer centricity
    Using digital solutions to transform the customer’s experience

  2. Innovation
    Behaviours that support disruptive thinking and exploring new ideas

  3. Data-driven decision-making
    Using data and analytics to make better, more informed, business decisions

  4. Collaboration
    Creating inter-departmental teams to optimise the enterprise’s skills

  5. Openness
    Partnering with external networks, whether these are third part start-ups, customers or suppliers

  6. Digital-first mind-set
    Adopting digital solutions as the default way forward

  7. Agility
    A speedy and dynamic approach to decision-making

  8. Flexibility
    The ability to adapt to changing demands and technologies

  9. Lifelong learning
    Understanding the skills needed and being equipped to deal with constant change

Matt is clear about the purpose of his and his team’s efforts. “Digital for me is less about technology and more about what the end result is,” he says. “Technology is the enabler and the end result is seamless interactions. It’s ease and simplicity.”

“Technology gives a consumer the ability not only to demand but actually get the service how they want, when they want and through whatever channel they want. The old days of Henry Ford and “you can have any colour as long as it’s black” are long in the rear-view mirror – and digital is the enabler of all this.”

Digital innovations

During his time with us, Matt has witnessed various digital innovations that will ultimately help our customers. Due to the time involved in successfully developing and introducing new initiatives, particularly ones involving sophisticated technology, some of these are still in the testing phase. Others have been introduced in markets where there is particular demand or need and a wider roll out is to follow.

“One example that we launched last year in the Netherlands is called Go Trade,” says Matt. “It’s an end-to-end platform that allows customers to assess the creditworthiness of their trading partners and then insure the trade that they are doing with them at a transactional level.”

“What we also have,” he continues, “is the Allianz Trade Digital Agency, an in-house team based in Paris, but with a global footprint. They’ve developed a single invoice cover. Until now, trade credit insurance has been offered at more of a portfolio level, covering many different transactions. But our single invoice cover allows customers to purchase invoice-level insurance with a few clicks.”

“Digital initiatives such as single invoice cover bring big advantages”, points out Matt. “One of the biggest challenges in the credit insurance industry is that our products can be perceived as complex, and so they have traditionally been adopted by midsized corporations up to large multinationals. Although SMEs are often seen as the engine room of an economy, we haven’t been great at addressing their needs. One of the most exciting things about digital innovations is that they allow us to simplify products and cater to the needs of SMEs too.”

Being involved in sharing innovative new initiatives such as single invoice insurance is part of what Matt likes most about his role. “I’ve always enjoyed working here,” he says, “But what I particularly enjoy about this role is that it feels as if what I’m doing is making a fundamental difference to how our organisation – and the industry – will look in the future.”

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