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IAG ramps up digital focus with new division, exec shuffle

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IAG has created a new Strategy & Innovation division to further strengthen its technological edge.

The new division “combines IAG’s existing strategy function” with Customer Labs and will be headed by Julie Batch in her new role as Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer. She was most recently Chief Customer Officer of Customer Labs.

IAG Group Executive Technology Neil Morgan will oversee an expanded Technology and Digital division, which will bring together the digital teams from Australia and New Zealand, including staff from Customer Labs and the existing Group Technology team.

CEO and MD Peter Harmer says in a statement the operating model changes are a “logical step” for IAG as the business builds on its core insurance portfolios and taps into adjacent opportunities.

“We continue to evolve our operating model to better align our customer and corporate strategies and further foster a culture of innovation as we consider and create new and different services for our customers,” Mr Harmer said.

An IAG spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au the aligned operating model will “ensure we have accountability in the right places across the business” and there will be “no major change to resources”.

Ms Batch and Mr Morgan will report directly to Mr Harmer when they formally take on their new roles on February 24. They are part of the Group Leadership Team that includes CEO Australia Mark Milliner, CEO New Zealand Craig Olsen and CFO Nick Hawkins.

Morningstar analyst Nathan Zaia, who tracks the industry, told insuranceNEWS.com.au the actions “simply reinforce the insurer’s focus on innovation and the digital offering”.

“The way customers engage with their insurer has obviously changed over the years, be it getting a quote or taking out a policy online at a time that is convenient for us, or even making a claim online,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for IAG to lower costs, but it’s also necessary to remain competitive against lower-cost online only players which are chipping away at their market share based on lower prices.

“Investment in data and analytics which helps the insurers price risks more efficiently will also likely be continual.”

In its 2018/19 annual report, IAG flagged the business will be stepping up its technology focus, encouraged by the results of Customer Labs since its creation in 2015.

The group will announce its first-half earnings results for the six months to December 31 on Wednesday.