Successful digitization as a joint venture – looking back at the Digisurance event

26. February 2016

At the beginning of February, established giants of the insurance industry met with young startups at the Digisurance event in Munich in order to discuss the following question: “What is the sale of insurance going to look like in the future?” Founder and Managing Director of etventure Philipp Depiereux and Managing Director at W&W Digital GmbH Nils-Christoph Ebsen gave a presentation about their joint venture.

W&W Digital GmbH has brought together two companies that could hardly be more different: Wüstenrot und Württembergische, a traditional company that has more than a quarter of a millennium of combined experience, and digital consultant and company builder etventure, which has only just turned five. Despite these difference – or, in fact, precisely because of them – W&W Digital GmbH unites “the best of both worlds,” as emphasized by Nils-Christoph Ebsen at the Digisurance event. This is because the joint venture combines etventure’s digital expertise and entrepreneurship with W&W’s many years of industry experience.

The partnership between the two companies has now been in place for one year. The joint venture was founded in December 2015 and it has already started up its second business model, which was launched recently. This is rapid development, which is something that is part of the winning formula, as Philipp Depiereux explained. “With digitization, the key is speed rather than control.” Prototypes, i.e. products that are deliberately imperfect, must first be put on the market as quickly as possible. This makes it possible to identify ideas that are promising – and those that are not – at an early stage. The only products that prevail are those that offer customers genuine added value. “We actually fail all the time,” said Depiereux with a twinkle in his eye, “but we fail fast and cheap.” In contrast, companies often invest a lot of time and money in developing perfect products for which there is ultimately no market demand.

Another significant success factor is providing the digitization process with a “protected space.” Philipp Depiereux explained that the development of digital business models needs to be independent of existing organizational and IT infrastructures. As exemplified by W&W Digital GmbH, creating a separate digital unit allows new ideas to emerge without any interference from normal business processes. Products are only integrated into the organization once they have been validated as successful. The duo explained that this can only be successful if it has the full support of the management board.

Nils-Christoph Ebsen described the process: “Together with etventure, we have conducted 2,000 customer interviews and developed and tested 500 ideas.” The two digital business models that W&W Digital GmbH has already successfully launched on the market are evidence that this principle works. The end of 2015 saw the launch of the Wüstenrot Wunschmieter platform, which digitized the service provided by real estate brokers. The Wüstenrot Immowert digital service for the fast, independent appraisal of properties was launched just a few days ago.

The Digisurance event was organized by software startup flexperto and global reinsurance company Munch Re. In addition to etventure and W&W Digital GmbH, other companies attending included RWE, IBM, Helvetia and Generali. A concise summary of the event (in German) is also available here in video format:

Digisurance – Den Versicherungsvertrieb der Zukunft gestalten (Designing insurance sales for the future) from flexperto GmbH on Vimeo.

The Digisurance website also features numerous video recordings of presentations, along with the accompanying documents.

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Doris Bärtle ist PR Managerin bei etventure. Zuvor arbeitete sie im Bereich Unternehmens- und Markenkommunikation und im Event Management.

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