Axel Schell lays foundation for Alliance transformation

Axel Schell lays foundation for Alliance transformation

With a global IT platform, the CIO of the Year 2021 is creating the basis for a new business model and interlinking IT even more closely with the business. Congratulations Axel Schell from Allianz! […]

How is one of the world’s largest insurers adapting to the upheavals in the market? How can he keep up in the race with innovative InsurTechs that are pounding digital products out of the ground without a grown IT landscape? Axel Schell, CTO of Allianz Germany and member of the Allianz Technology Executive Management Team, gives the answer: “We focus on simpler product design, more customer orientation and the greatest possible digitization.“

The Munich-based group has developed the “Allianz Customer Model” (ACM), in which IT plays a key role. The ambitious goal is to simplify products and processes so that they can be reused across all Allianz companies. This only works with a company-wide harmonized IT. This is how the strategy project for the development of a global IT master platform (ITMP) was born. As a cloud-based and “business-agnostic” IT platform, it forms the new technical core of Allianz, Schell reports.

A look at the initial situation shows how challenging the project was. The IT landscape of the insurer has grown over many years, legacy systems in the backend caused high maintenance and operating costs. In addition, each Allianz company has developed country-specific products and IT tools independently to date; core processes were often covered by different IT systems and data structures.

“With ACM and ITMP, we are taking advantage of economies of scale and scaling effects,” says Schell. “This way we can offer all customers the same experience.” With the new platform, Allianz is offering uniform products worldwide and using the same IT systems. This not only leads to significant cost savings, but also to simpler internal processes, which in turn facilitated cooperation within the Group. Last but not least, this would free up enormous capacities so that employees could focus more on product innovations, new technologies or strategic partnerships.

“It’s no longer just about IT issues, but almost equally about mindset and change management,” says Axel Schell, CIO of Allianz and CIO of the Year 2021 in the Large Enterprise (c) Allianz category

Along the way, the CTO first had to clean up the IT department. One of ACM’s most important and largest subprojects is Decom (“Decommissioning”), an IT restructuring program that has been running since 2019. At its core, it is about replacing legacy systems, simplifying the IT landscape and migrating data to new target systems. By 2025, Allianz aims to shut down 75 percent of all legacy applications. For this, the Munich-based company is taking more than 640 million euros in its hands.

However, not only technical aspects are outstanding about Schell’s application for CIO of the Year 2021. As Chief Technology & Transformation Officer of the subsidiary Allianz Technology SE, he is driving the digital transformation of the Group on several levels. For example, in the Agile@Scale project, he supports closer cooperation between business and IT areas and relies on agile teams.

“It is clear to us that all our activities bring a lot of change,” he explains the impact on the company. “It’s no longer just about IT issues, but almost equally about mindset and change management.” Open communication and transparency are enormously important. For example, in the ITMP project, we work closely with colleagues from all over the world: “Of course, this is demanding. But we see that it is precisely through this cross-cultural diversity that the best products are created – because they take into account all customer needs.“ (kf/rs)

The jury also praised the holistic approach that Schell is pursuing: “A very holistic transformation program that addresses the simplification of products and processes globally so that they can be reused across all Allianz companies.“

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