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«Be fast (and open-minded): the world must go on…even without us»

Thibaut Schlaeppi has been driving a new office of BNP Paribas Cardif for a year, to globally manage relations with the startups. In a workshop in Milan he has shown the vision that drives the call due to expire on 10 November. “Working with startups is matter of strategy»

26 Apr 2016

There is a gap between the current ongoing, the potential of big data and the IoT and use that currently companies make of it. Two fields, digital-tech and the one of traditional business organizations, running at different rates. There’s only an answer to rebalance the situation, or rather, to accelerate the process of alignment of the traditional organizations to huge changes in business models coming from new tech companies, which burst into the market, without begging leave to anyone: engage the startups.

In a nutshell, this is the basic concept raised during the Internet of Things and Big Data workshops: the impact on the insurance industry, promoted by BNP Paribas Cardif and organized by EconomyUp-InsuranceUp at Polihub. Big data and Internet of things are the reference fields of Call4ideas for startups of the second edition of Cardif Open-F@b, at InsuranceUp and realized in partnership with Polihub. (The deadline for submitting an application is on November 10th, click here to apply).

The workshop began with the participation of Thibaut Schlaeppi, Global Head of startups relations & Internet-of-Things at BNP Paribas Cardif (a department of the organization for a little over a year) who explained how insurance carriers are facing the leap into a new Insurance era. “There is a new energy, especially in the US, new companies with new business models are emerging, this has also led to new opportunities even in Europe, and to the possibility of creating new models. The BNP Paribas Cardif group has derived from this, the pretty deep belief that working with startups is a strategic choice”

The intervention of Schlaeppi (pictured on the left along with the EconomyUp director, Giovanni Iozzia) explained how concretely this strategic vision is being achieved, what kind of relationship the company wishes to set with the startups and what kind of effort this transition requires, with respect to renewal even inside the same company.

“BNP Paribas Cardif has a business mindset, so it is quite natural for us to engage the startups. However it is necessary to have a professional and industrial approach. To accomplish this we have chosen to take advantage of three levers, first of all, be proactive in the ecosystem of startups. Startups are everywhere, USA, Europe, growing very fast, and without our role, this show will go on, even without us.

We must also have an open mindset, open source, which meets the mood of the startups. The latter needs to build a product, and asking for exclusivity, the startup cannot grow. Looking at the more mature startups, which may have already found private equity investments, with an already finished product, we want to be the first customer: startups always are in trouble finding their first customer. We want to let them grow them and, by doing this first step, we will have a leading role.”

In the company’s strategy is crucial for the company a not obvious attitude to to chance planning and schedule, says Schlaeppi. For example, the discovery of the startups is local (and local is their main market as well), this means that appropriate teams and initiatives, as well as new partners, are needed. In Italy collaboration with Polihub has been achieved since last year and has created the initiative Cardif Open-F@b, that just at its first edition has brought good results .

The discussion panel has specifically addressed the main theme of the event, IoT and Big Data, suggesting the experiences and considerations of some founders of former Italian startups in the sector which have already been working with the corporation, using their services. For example, Cosimo Palmisano, Decisyon (Italian software house, which has moved headquarter in US after receiving an investment of $ 22 million from US investors) pointed out that the difficulty of the Italian companies (compared to US) to adopt data-driven systems, is often a cultural obstacle. “We do not have a statistical culture, we are instinctive. Just watch an NBA game on TV and see all the statistics being proposed over the sameand figure out how, in the United States, the statistics are part of the prevailing mindset”. The sectors most delayed on the digitization and exploitation of big data and Iot technologies, according to Palmisano, are exactly the banking and insurance sector. “We are aware that with regard to insurance carriers, it depends on the same business organization, the value chain, the confidence that today relies ultimately on agents.”

Riccardo Samela, Head of Digital & Communication, BNP Paribas Cardif, admits the delay but pushes up the bidding. “Do not look for us on Facebook – he says – but soon we will be on Twitter. So far we only have a digital environment for existing processes. Now it is imperative to change, we have to be disruptive to innovate, and we can do it only with the startups”.

About disruption, Giampiero Lotito, Founder & CEO of FacilityLive (software house that has developed an innovative search system) noted that in organizations, particularly in the insurance sector, the disruption should involve mainly the inner part of the organization. According to Lotito, big data is just a sexy definition, but it is not the real issue. The digitization and the innovation process have to be something really deep, which invest primarily culture and business organization, and cannot be located on the surface.

The internal change is not easy, but the brave research, makes it possible. Simone Macelloni, Head of R&D, BNP Paribas Cardif and project manager Cardif Open-F@b, explained how his role in the project even consists in being an interface between the startups culture and the organization: “The insurance industry is very difficult, being highly regulated and has consequently many stiffness. In any case we were able to go ahead with certain initiatives, selected from call Cardif Open-F @ b last year, on which we are still working so that these can be used by us to improve our services.”

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