Ageas managers get to grips with data analytics

The insurance business is living with the consequences of the VUCA world and facing increased competition from a wider range of companies. More than ever therefore, Ageas has understood they need to maximise the value of the data it has and bring senior managers up to speed on the new subject of data management. Ageas chose Vlerick Business School to prepare a learning journey for their subsidiaries and joint ventures in 16 countries around Europe and Asia.

The Ageas Academy partners with Vlerick

As Ageas already had a positive experience with the business school , the company chose Vlerick to design and deliver a new learning experience around data and data management. The focus needed to be on the practical use of analytics so that participants would immediately be able to apply their newfound knowledge when back in their respective offices.

The Ageas Academy Programme Manager, Cindy Canoot explains the background in more detail: “A review of the company strategy in 2015 saw the establishment of the Ageas Academy in January 2016. The aim was to raise the knowledge level of the senior managers of the Group, and give them the skills they needed to develop the company’s business in the future. Three specific areas of focus were identified: the new data-rich world, particularly when it came to leadership and working with data; getting closer and more intimate with the customer to serve them better; and finance and risk, for example when it comes to global knowledge and regulations affecting the insurance industry.”

“It’s a true partnership with Vlerick. This is not merely a classroom experience in which a professor might simply share their knowledge with a receptive audience, no here we have co-created a unique and tailor-made experience that is both attractive to the participants and also offers a real long-term impact on the daily business.”

Ageas already had a good experience of working with Vlerick in the past through our Chair partnership. But more importantly we both share the same values.

Theoretical and practical

The Ageas Academy is where academic learning meets the practical business world. Once the data analytics theory has been explained, the Ageas participants are invited to participate in an interactive workshop and develop a concrete situation they might face in their daily business lives. This means that everyone can put their knowledge into practice and see the results of their understanding.

“We like how the participants know who to contact if ever they have a question, also after the programme. It means that not only can they reach out to the professor but they also have each other, as we ensure that there is strong on-going peer interaction when they get home,” adds Cindy Canoot.

A safe environment to learn and experiment

While it’s too early to see an immediate business impact, the Academy experience has already changed the way Ageas works with data. Georges Theys, (the Group Director of the Centre of Expertise for Data Analytics within Ageas) explains: “Vlerick provides a safe environment to learn analytics, and it’s working very well. With a good mix of academic rigour and a hands-on approach, we’ve been able to create traction very quickly. I’m confident we are giving the senior management of the company the tools they need to have the right conversation about data with their teams.”

Ms. Canoot concludes, “We have been very selective as to who comes to Vlerick in Ghent, so we’ve had no issues with engagement or lack of enthusiasm … on the contrary, many of the participants have been encouraging their colleagues to come . The quality in the learning has been there from the very beginning, and yet still we want to make it better. This means we take the time to analyse what went well, and what can still be improved, even after the 3rd wave of participants. The reality is data analytics are hard but we are changing for the better: maybe not with a big bang approach, but step by step.”

Creating value with data

Specialised in business analytics and big data, Professor Philippe Baecke helps companies create value with the data they already have. Not only has he helped Ageas develop a strategy but also opened the eyes of each of the participants as to the possibilities of learning from each other. Prof Baecke confirms this, “As Ageas is a pretty decentralised organisation, there is a possibility that a company or business unit within the Group is doing one thing, and that another is actually preparing the same thing without either one or the other knowing about it. Our workshops are a good way to integrate the knowledge of these different decentralised units so that everyone can learn from each other.”

The best advice I have learned in order to get the initiative working? Start small then execute a pilot study, evaluate the results then scale and make it operational for the entire company.
Yalcin Terlemez, IT Division Manager, AkSigorta, Turkey

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