Industry 4.0: Cyber security a focus for insurers

Digitalization as a risk – Switzerland’s largest insurer Axa Winterthur faces new challenges. Head of Corporates Dieter Gosteli is relying on the people factor when it comes to mastering them.

Industry 4.0: Cyber security a focus for insurers

The increasing importance of IT security

AXA Winterthur’s core business is insuring risks. The digital exchange of data and delicate information presents new risks for many SMEs. “Our objective is to remove some of these risks for companies”, says Gosteli, “because if an SME doesn’t have its IT risks under control, then this can quickly jeopardize its entire existence.” Here as well, AXA Winterthur relies on offering appropriate advice and services. The digital transformation is forcing insurers to become more involved in the value-creation chain of the client and to acquire findings about new (cyber-) risks whilst doing so.

It’s about a digital revolution – not just an industrial one

Digitalization doesn’t stop at the factory gate. “It affects the entire economy and runs through the entire value-creation chain”, stresses Gosteli. Will individuals still play a role here? “We place trust in people, not in technologies.” For Gosteli, it goes without saying that people are required as integrators and communicators. Yet there are still a few unanswered questions. In which processes are people essential and where is digitalization appropriate? Dieter Gosteli: “Machines can relieve us of many tasks. A scanner, for example, can measure hail damage on a car quickly and precisely. The trust that the car will be repaired correctly and payment made quickly, however, is put in people. Human interaction thus continues to play a role where services are concerned.” As a company, AXA Winterthur has taken measures to be ahead of the game in terms of digitalization. Here, the vertical integration is questioned “where there are other providers who do things better than us.” AXA Winterthur is actively seeking collaborations with technology start-ups, maintains its own venture funds, and thus has its finger on the pulse of developments. Gosteli has confidence in Swiss SMEs. They are more agile than bigger firms, he says, and are often at the forefront of technologies, “but quickly come up against financial limitations.”

Politics still slows things down

“A new insurance provider must first present licenses and the like. This is required by the legislator and thus gives existing firms more time to adapt”, says Gosteli, “but it’s also conceivable that entirely new concepts will develop that do not fall within the existing regulations. Communities, for example, that insure each other.” Switzerland is well positioned internationally, including with regard to export-oriented SMEs, says Gosteli. And it’s set to stay that way: “Some of our neighboring countries are worse off there.” Crucial factors for Swiss companies attempting to get to grips with the digital transformation are speed and flexibility, he says. “The prerequisites for keeping up the pace are all in place”, is Gosteli’s positive conclusion.

2016 Foreign Trade Forum on the topic of industry 4.0

At our Foreign Trade Forum in Zurich on 21 April, you can join Axa Winterthur as it dives into the world of hackers and cyber-crime. Of course, you will also discover how you can arm yourself against it by means of targeted risk management. Register now!

You can find more information on the topic in our Dossier: Industry 4.0

Article: Industry 4.0: leading companies on opportunities for SMEs

The individual:

Dieter Gosteli, 1959, lic. oec. HSG, has spent around 30 years at AXA Winterthur, during which time he has held various management positions in entrepreneurial functions. Alongside his experience in controlling, marketing and distribution, Dieter Gosteli also boasts broad technical expertise in P&C business, particularly as head of private client business. He has been in charge of the Corporates division since 2015.

The company:

AXA Winterthur has been rooted in Switzerland for 140 years, and in 2014 achieved a transaction volume of 11.7 billion francs. As the largest insurer in Switzerland, AXA also offers comprehensive services and specialized consultancy for business clients – for which it is trusted by 40% of all Swiss SMEs. Thanks to flexible, industry-specific solutions and a far-reaching international network, AXA is well-placed to serve its approximately 1.87 million customers.

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