Center of excellence accelerates Aegon’s digital transformation

Aegon’s commitment to digital expansion was announced at the company’s Analyst & Investor conference. To accelerate this expansion, a Center of Excellence for Digital is being created and the first projects are currently ramping up.

Young profesionals reading on an iPad

Addressing Analysts and Investors at a recent conference, CEO, Alex Wynaendts, said that "digitizing Aegon's businesses across the globe," would accelerate success.

By expanding its digital platforms to remain competitive, he said: "Aegon is able to enhance service and customer experience. It also makes it possible to reduce operating expenses, freeing up capital to invest further in speeding up our digital transformation. In the UK for example, we've reduced expenses by one third, by digitizing the business and, more importantly, by reducing complexity."

As some of Aegon's successful digital start-ups, such as Knab and Retiready, have proven, starting with a clean digital slate significantly reduces the time from concept to reality. These two initiatives together have attracted 300,000 customers and assets of more than 10 billion euro in just three years. But with a legacy stretching back more than 100 years for our core business, achieving an acceptable speed of digital transformation, cannot simply be achieved through organic evolution.

Robbert Bakker, head of Aegon's Digital Transformation Council, has been assessing Aegon's global digital competence over the past year. His assessment of how the company is doing? "We currently have pockets of excellence," he says. "To name just a few example, in Asia we have created an insurance meta-aggregator, GoBear, India has an award-winning multi-product digital business. Hungary and the Netherlands excel in data analytics, while Turkey has, among other things, created a successful app to support brokers.

"We have best practice in processes, digital media, e-sales, etc., but what we don't yet have is consistent excellence right across the board."

Center of Excellence

To help local operations adopt and innovate, Aegon's new service-oriented Center of Excellence (CoE) for Digital will promote international collaboration in the digital domain. The CoE will serve Asia and Continental Europe through four teams: Digital marketing, Analytics, User experience, and Digital strategy with a gradual rollout. With steering committee guidance, it will increase the quality and efficiency of digital initiatives, reduce overall cost of digital initiatives, and shorten time to market for solutions that help our customers.

Digital support will be provided as needed: sometimes on a continuous improvement basis and at other times like a 'SWAT' team, swooping in for a single project. The result will be a cost-effective means of sharing knowledge. "Not all countries have the bandwidth to hire global specialists," says Robbert. "That's where the CoE can help out. We will help country units implement relevant best practices efficiently by, for example, hiring one person to serve three countries."

With key roles for each of the four teams already filled, recruitment of specialists for each of the teams is currently in progress. The digital units will be made up of Aegon staff and contractors from partner companies, and will be based in two hubs; one in the Netherlands, and one in Singapore. Support unit staff will be a multi-cultural, multi-lingual talent mix of digital experts able to serve multiple locations.

Raising the bar

The CoE will drive the best practice sharing within the organization formally and informally. As Robbert puts it: "The first priority will be to ensure that information flows from one unit to the other and that successful initiatives are reused.

"Serving our customers is what it's all about," he adds. "Digital is more important than ever. With the CoE we can help country units accelerate their digital transformation, and serve customers better."