16 Dec Digital Garage: A Space For Innovation
Just like cars, apps and software need to be tinkered with and worked on — so it goes with Insurance too it seems these days! Aviva, the British insurance corporation, has opened what they call a Digital Garage as a space for just that.
Insurance is boring. This what Andrew Brem, Global Chief Digital officer for Aviva says during the opening of the new Digital Garage opened by the British insurance giant. That is what Aviva is hoping to change. The opening of this new centre in Singapore seems to be the key. The second to be opened by the company after their inaugural opening of the first garage in London earlier this year, it takes up the space of what used to be a traditional Singapore shophouse on Armenian Street. So what exactly is a Digital Garage?
Brem’s take on it is that the Digital Garage functions as both a regional and global centre based around innovation and technology. The focus will be on disruptive technologies that improve business and customer experience, whether it is from Aviva itself or from collaborators sharing the same space.
“We started our digital journey a few years ago, when we established it as one of our key tenants,” says Chris Wei, Executive Chairman for Aviva Asia. He goes on to say that the aim of Aviva is to be disruptive in insurance technology.”
The vision is to have insurance that is completely digital, which Brem argues would offer services that Aviva’s competitors and peers do not. This is what the Digital Garage is offering: a place for innovation and creation, pushing the boundaries of what it means to offer insurance.
Wei and Brem give plenty of examples throughout the presentation of what Aviva itself is doing to promote innovative approaches to insurance. “We are doing what happened to e-commerce 10-15 years ago, but it is happening a lot faster here,” says Brem.
After the main discussion there were several demonstrations of innovations that Aviva are currently working on. These range from services to allowing workers to access their company health insurance without going through human resources. All in the name of simplifying the process of filling out insurance forms. They are all online based, removing the need for paperwork and focusing on simplifying the process of insurance.
For Aviva it is not just this space alone. Just like 71 Ayer Rajah Crescent is the boiling pot for the independent gaming scene in Singapore, Aviva hopes to invite smaller technology start-ups to share the space within the Digital Garage. Brem explains that some of these will have the opportunity to partner with Aviva, others will simply have a space to work.
These partnerships are already underway. Ryde, the latest technology start-up to take on what Brem calls “the sharing economy,” is a car-pooling app which allows for drivers to make some money on their commute to work. Alongside having office space to work, Ryde has access to a special kind of car insurance designed for car-pooling, provided by Aviva.
Most of the demonstrations however were performed by teams directly employed by Aviva, either from the London Digital Garage or from existing specialists in Singapore.
As the innovation space has just opened its doors, only time will tell how many start-ups will populate that prized space. Aviva’s hope is to invite promising Singaporean start-ups who are in need of office space to come work side by side with their teams.
The spokespersons for Aviva, Brem and Wei, did not specify how much space will be allotted for start-ups, but did assure that there does not need to be a direct link to insurance or finance to earn a place in the Digital Garage.
Brem emphasises that there are many potentially ground breaking and disruptive ideas and developments that can come from sharing a space with different companies and start ups, some of which will end up influencing the future of Aviva.