Innovation achieves success
Authors: Andrew Torrance
Andrew Torrance, CEO, Allianz Insurance
30 October 2012
Innovation is at the heart of our culture at Allianz Insurance because it makes a significant contribution to growing and developing our business. It’s also a major factor in ensuring we embed best practice and is a tangible way of showing that we value the ideas and contributions from our employees. It’s a powerful motivator and has been instrumental in driving tangible changes to our operations and our products and services which have helped us improve the customer experience with Allianz.
As part of an exercise to discover how other businesses used innovation we recently commissioned opinion research among 500 business leaders. 83% said that innovation is a key driver of commercial success and that this would go on being the case well into the future. They agreed with us that having innovative processes in place helps businesses achieve higher profits, engage employees, stand out from competitors and deliver growth.
I was disappointed if not entirely surprised to learn that many business leaders said they had felt compelled to move innovation down their list of priorities of late. Nearly one in four of our respondents reported that the double dip recession had made their innovation programmes less important. In addition to recessionary pressures, our research also showed that business leaders believe that other barriers to innovation within their businesses are: a lack of money; a focus on profits; and a focus on managing other business needs.
Although maintaining a focus on innovation can be extremely challenging in difficult economic times, my view is that it is even more important to encourage employees to be innovative when the temptation is to focus on immediate business pressures.
I have heard it said that innovation is only for large organisations with the resources to be able to move their people from their day-to-day responsibilities to focus on innovation. I disagree and as part of our research we came across many stories from our small business customers showing how they are using innovation to help their businesses. For example, one of our Premierline Direct customers, Rohini Jansari, who owns A View Opticians in North London, employed innovative strategies to grow her business and extended her network of referrals to local GPs and invested in equipment which is normally only available in hospitals. As Rohini told the London Evening Standard, this has meant increased customer numbers and patients treated in three days instead of waiting for a hospital appointment. She has also invested in her employees with four optometrists now taking the exams necessary to use the specialised equipment.
At Allianz we have seen clear success through innovation, despite difficult economic times, and as a result I would encourage other British businesses to continue to devote time and energy to being innovative. The A View Opticians story is just one example of a business using innovation to expand their footprint and grow their business in difficult times. A philosophy we agree with and one that our employees embrace because it works.
Allianz Insurance is a partner of The Work Foundation.
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