Innovation in digital customer service and empowers employees with Microsoft 365
Protecting the modern workplace
With Microsoft 365, AXA has the level of security it needs to support a digitally enabled, agile way of working. “The key benefits of moving to the cloud are innovation, agility, and security,” says Blottière. “It is my job to ensure all three for the new workplace at AXA. When it comes to keeping our data safe, we deployed Microsoft 365 to even further strengthen our security posture.”
As a cornerstone of its security strategy, the company consolidated local identity and access management systems within Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium P1, a component of Enterprise Mobility + Security. For AXA, this step involved educating employees on safe user behavior. “With Microsoft 365, we have a new way of looking at identity and security that helps IT promote freedom for employees to use the devices they want, when and where they want,” says Blottière. “For example, we’re teaching people how to use Office 365 Data Loss Prevention and Azure Information Protection to keep their information and documents highly secure.”
As a global company, AXA manages compliance with different security regulations for each country where it does business. This can hamper the deployment of global technology platforms that must be tweaked to meet local security regulations. “Microsoft spends a lot of energy in making its products compliant, and understanding the regulations locally,” says Blottière. “At the same time, we have a standard suite of security solutions that cover our basic security concerns everywhere.”
“With Microsoft 365, we’ve turned a corner when it comes to security regulations for different countries,” adds Djeridi. “We have deployed the solution almost everywhere, while remaining compliant with local regulations. We’re also making progress with our migration in countries where we must comply with GDPR.”
Enhanced security capabilities across the Microsoft 365 environment also contribute to enriched relationships with the company’s IT partners. “We use SharePoint with our external IT contributors because that solution is very compliant to our security standards and that’s the best way for us to share confidential customer information,” says Yong-Lang Tessier-Tso, Group Pension Product Manager at AXA.
Enhancing collaboration to boost productivity
When it comes to insurance, local markets differ greatly. Serving these markets efficiently can be difficult. “Finding the right balance between what we are providing globally and the needs at the local level is challenging,” says Djeridi. But AXA uses its global reach—and Microsoft collaboration tools—to achieve a competitive advantage.
As AXA deploys Microsoft 365 to its global workforce, employees are embracing its cloud-based communication and teamwork tools to work more productively and accelerate business. As more employees take advantage of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Power BI, the company can pull together as one to achieve great things. “We trust the strategy of Microsoft around collaboration,” says Djeridi. “Now that working together can be seamless, employees no longer struggle to make teamwork happen with time-consuming tools and technology. Today, we’re focusing on the business stakes.”
And for a global corporation, AXA has found great value in tools that reduce language barriers. Scharrer uses the Translator for Outlook add-in to send emails to colleagues in Japan and Indonesia in their local language. “Through the translator AI functionality in Office 365, we are able to speak together every day and knowledge-sharing is much easier. Working in an international company, we consider this a basic tool to facilitate communications and drive productive teamwork.”
Across the organization, Teams is emerging as the key to enhanced teamwork. “Microsoft 365 is the backbone of communication at AXA,” says Blottière. “And for me, Microsoft Teams is the next generation of collaboration.”
“When our leadership team acts as a role model for the new way of working at AXA, it goes a long way,” says Djeridi. “I use Teams to manage the Global Workplace Products team of 150 people. We collaborate more efficiently, share files, schedule video calls, and chat about strategies to provide the best workplace tools for employees to do their best work.”
Working together to drive innovation
At AXA, when people work better together, it’s a catalyst for the innovation that drives it payer-to-partner strategy. “Microsoft technology is a real innovation-accelerator for AXA,” says Scharrer. “While we have always been good at incubating new business products at the local level—and our proximity to clients is a key differentiator for us—with tools like Teams, we can achieve innovation at scale, building new products such as telematics solutions for car insurance, IoT solutions for marine insurances, or chatbots for disease management programs in Asia—all to make our customers’ lives easier.”
Scharrer points to examples of employees working together from AXA Italy, AXA UK, AXA China, and the AXA Group in Paris. These groups joined forces to deliver projects of value in each of these countries that can also be scaled out to other AXA entities. “Here, Microsoft 365 was necessary to foster innovation,” says Scharrer. “If we didn’t have strong collaboration and knowledge-management tools, we could never achieve this balance of local expertise that can drive a successful global business model. I call it the democratization of innovation.”
For Djeridi, Teams fosters innovation by helping experts find each other and facilitating “bottom up” dialogue that contributes to a new mindset about building and managing new products. He works with a 300-strong team that consists of AXA entities from different countries and employees from Group Operations. “We all work together in a Teams environment, sharing documents, posting videos, polling local experts, and fostering emerging ideas in a non-hierarchical fashion,” says Djeridi. “In Group Operations, we use Teams to work efficiently with local entities and develop products to help them sell AXA products to different global markets.”
Collaborating to better serve customers
According to Tessier-Tso, the corporate culture at AXA has always prized collaboration, but using Microsoft 365 helps to channel that productive teamwork toward better customer service. “We want to impact our customer process with our workplace transformation,” she says. “That is the real point to using Microsoft 365—to improve our efficiency and satisfy our customer requirements.”
With less friction stemming from multiple geographies and time zones, AXA employees can respond more quickly to industry disruptors and design new products. For example, on April 11, 2019, the French Parliament adopted the PACTE Act (Action Plan for Business Growth and Transformation), which merges insurers’ contract agreements for retirement and savings. The Group Pension business at AXA mobilized its response using Teams to gather key players in its IT, underwriting, and marketing departments, who shared their perspectives on how the new law will impact their customers.
“Working together in Teams, everyone stays on top of the latest information so we can efficiently develop new products within the Group Pension business that are compliant,” says Tessier-Tso. “Teams provides the perfect workplace to stay informed about the latest regulations and to quickly execute strategies to help our customers under the new law.”
With integrated tools and mobile access to data, sales agents can provide better service while visiting customers. “Today, they access all the latest documentation and contracts from OneDrive or SharePoint on their device so they can quickly answer questions,” says Tessier-Tso. “AXA support services staff who field calls from that same customers’ rank and file employees about their pensions need access to the same up-to-date contracts. Now with Microsoft 365, support staff and sales agents can easily communicate and share contract files to ensure everyone provides the right information.”
Digitalizing the workplace with Office 365 interoperable tools
Across AXA, employees take advantage of the suite of tools in Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise to bring to life a digital workplace that runs on anytime, anywhere access to easily shared information—from emails to videos to raw data. “The benefits of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise are twofold: a significant increase in efficiency for our tech support team because updates are automated, and ease of access to new capabilities for our employees,” says Blottière.
For Scharrer, whose department consists mainly of developers and data scientists, the interoperation between Office 365 and Microsoft Visual Studio is a boon. “We see huge value in integrating our daily administrative tasks—writing documents, reading emails, or collaborating in Teams—with our development activities. This capability is quite striking and drives our confidence that Microsoft is the right partner for the future; not only for business users of Office 365 but also for the more tech-savvy developer.”
According to Djeridi, AXA is transforming operational reporting using Power BI and surfacing these reports on SharePoint. “Of course, we still work with Excel every day, but we’re replacing some large spreadsheets with Power BI dashboards, which makes for a more intuitive way to present our annual results, our coverage of different solutions, and our sales,” he says. “And we can learn how to use Power BI very easily.”
Distributors and sales reps visiting customers are much better prepared now that they can access their contracts and sales pamphlets from OneDrive using a mobile device. “For me, OneDrive is absolutely at the core of how we collaborate,” says Blottière. “It’s an easy tool to use; you can store and access your data anytime, on any device, and you can co-create your documents.”
Sales force managers do not have the opportunity to meet all their agents around the world, but now they use Teams live events to run global sales force meetings and keep everyone on the same page with the latest products and marketing strategies.
Supporting a new world of work at the office
The new AXA Group Operations campus in Paris reflects the company’s digital workplace, albeit in bricks and mortar. It’s Stange’s favorite place to work, because she doesn’t have a personal office, a desk, a filing cabinet, or any paper. She and her colleagues now work from specific zones around the building that correspond with their needs at the time, from quiet zones to project spaces and individual workstations.
“I like to say, I walk the walk when it comes to the digital workplace,” she laughs. “We all work in our open office spaces in a completely agile way. Given our new work environment, the digital tools within Microsoft 365 are an essential component of the AXA work experience. Today, I can sit on the sofa here and broadcast a Teams meeting called “Thirty Minutes with Astrid” to thousands of colleagues around the world in 16 countries. It’s an opportunity for a new team I’m building to meet me, and for me to meet my team in an open exchange of ideas. Before Microsoft 365, we did not have this capability. Today, it’s a whole new world for AXA, our employees, and our customers.”