3. Value Creation Story
(1) Target Profile: “A Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing”
Against this backdrop, “A Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing” is our target profile.
“A Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing” does not only mitigate negative events by functioning as an economic backstop in the way that conventional insurance does when unlikely events occur. Before such events, we use our products and services to be a partner that remains close to and enriches the daily lives of customers. For example, our offerings help prevent diseases and dementia, reduce fires, and promote safe driving. In other words, we provide value by making a positive contribution to the quality of people’s lives. To put this another way, the Sompo Group gives concrete form to the abstract concepts of security, health, and wellbeing. Our vision entails addressing social issues and providing cohesive support by accompanying people, who are the main constituents of society, throughout their lives and by making appropriate use of digital and other leading-edge technologies. Ultimately, our vision is to contribute to the happiness of customers, society as a whole, and all stakeholders, including the Earth. To this end, in the field of security, health, and wellbeing we will continue providing solutions that bring together the expertise and real data accumulated by our respective businesses and which dovetail digital technologies with operations that call for the human touch. In this way, we will become a unique creator of new value.
Looking to the future, companies should promote growth by taking on businesses that help humanity realize its aspirations and address environmental and social issues. As a consequence of such efforts, corporate value will increase, and sustainability will spread. This is precisely the scenario envisioned when we refer to “A Theme Park for Security, Health & Wellbeing.”
By being useful when unlikely events occur and bringing happiness into lives as a result and by helping solve social issues, the Sompo Group will ensure that its presence remains valuable and indispensable to society.
(2) The Sompo Group’s Strengths
To realize the aforementioned vision, we will leverage our three major strengths.
Our first strength is sustainability. The Group’s starting point was a firefighting service established more than 130 years ago. We founded Japan’s first fire insurance company because we wanted to protect people from fires, a serious social issue at the time due to the large number of wooden buildings. This desire to help address social issues is expressed in our current Group Management Philosophy, which calls on us to “contribute to the security, health, and wellbeing of customers and society as a whole by providing insurance and related services of the highest quality possible.”
In addressing the increasingly complex social issues of recent years, an indispensable approach is the creation of impactful initiatives through cooperation that brings together the capabilities of diverse stakeholders. From generation to generation, the Group has passed down an approach to business that emphasizes such stakeholders. To date, we have contributed to the realization of a sustainable society through an array of different businesses and research activities based on industry–academia–government partnerships, tie-ups with companies in other industries, and cooperative initiatives with civil society.
For example, Future Care Lab in Japan, a laboratory that we established last year with the aim of developing new ways of incorporating technology into nursing care, is jointly conducting R&D that combines the technologies of start-ups, major manufacturers, and research bodies with the Group’s operational know-how in relation to nursing care facilities. Going forward, we will utilize leading-edge technologies to enhance quality of life and bring people happiness. By partnering with a wide variety of entities to offer products and services that enable people to be happy throughout the entirety of their lives, we will help tackle the social issues that Japan is facing as its population ages. Moreover, I believe our initiatives will win acceptance in the wider world.
The second strength of the Sompo Group is its digital strategy, which is critical in efforts to evolve and enhance the productivity of existing businesses and to create new businesses. Also, we are bringing together diverse professionals to drive our digital strategy forward. To underpin the digital strategy, we have established SOMPO Digital Labs—a trilateral structure encompassing Tokyo, Silicon Valley, and Tel Aviv. Furthermore, we have recruited our chief digital officer externally.
In utilizing digital technologies, real data is particularly important. “Real data” refers to data that is not obtainable from the Internet and is instead acquired through sensors that detect the real-world activities of individuals and companies. We will use digital technologies to gain an in-depth understanding of the actual activities and issues of society and customers as well as to conduct high-speed, high-data-volume analyses of the causes of these issues. Then, we will use our findings as the basis for solutions.
Through its insurance and nursing care & healthcare businesses, the Sompo Group has accumulated huge volumes of valuable real data on accidents, catastrophes, lifestyles, health, and nursing care. We believe that using such data will allow us to provide solutions that prevent accidents and diseases, thereby converting our real data into an invaluable asset.
With a view to realizing such solutions, last year we collaborated with a major data analysis company in the United States, Palantir Technologies Inc.("Palantir"), to jointly establish Palantir Technologies Japan K.K. When I visited Palantir, I found it shockingly different from the technology companies that I had visited in Japan and other countries. I got the clear impression that, in focusing on big data analysis, the personnel of Palantir not only take pride in their advanced technological capabilities but are also a group that emphasizes the social meaning of the company’s existence and which has a philosophy of considering how technologies can be used to benefit people and society. When thinking about Japan’s current social issues, knowledge and inquiries enlightened by such a philosophy will be important.Furthermore, this year we decided to acquire a stake in Palantir. Working with the company, we will leverage its advanced software technology to create a platform for the utilization of real data, called the Real Data Platform for Security, Health and Wellbeing.
On the other hand, real data includes a large amount of important personal information. For this reason, if we are to utilize real data successfully, naturally we must comply with statutory laws and regulations. Of equal importance, however, is an approach to real data that carefully takes into consideration concerns people may have so that they feel comfortable trusting the Sompo Group with their information. In addition, we need to market products and services with merits that engender in customers a willingness to providing information voluntarily. Through our joint venture, we will realize such products and services and develop solutions to social issues by utilizing our new partner’s big data analysis technology—which is among the best in the world.
The Group’s third strength is its human resources. This year’s Davos Conference unveiled the concept of “talentism,” meaning an approach that places importance on personnel and their capabilities. The argument put forward was that we must bring together the world’s talent to grapple with the world’s issues. I was particularly sympathetic to the view that, as talent is not limited to a small number of geniuses but is present in everyone, full-fledged measures to promote diversity and inclusion should be taken. The same can be said of the Sompo Group. Our management team has to provide strong support for the establishment of a corporate environment that is conducive to the transformation of human resources. The goal should be to enable each employee to draw on his or her talents and strengths and drive the Group toward its mission and goals.
Further, given the significant restrictions on travel and face-to-face meetings that have been introduced worldwide in response to the current COVID-19 crisis, not only business practices but also lifestyles will have to change dramatically. The crisis has provided a powerful reminder of the importance of common practices, such as ensuring employees have an environment in which they can work healthily and with peace of mind. We have to see the aforementioned changes as a rare opportunity to make a fresh start as an even better entity and as an opportunity to contribute to society.
Specifically, we want to tackle work-style reform. The Sompo Group will transition to a rigorously results-oriented corporate culture, heighten the emotional intelligence quotient of employees so that they can accurately intuit stakeholders’ varied and rapidly changing needs, and encourage behavior based on a strong awareness of productivity. Also, as factors that both support and are supported by heightened productivity awareness, we will accelerate efforts to enhance work quality and establish location-independent work styles. Furthermore, we will invest unstintingly to advance these initiatives. To realize digital transformation in workplaces, we will revamp work processes by utilizing digital technologies and AI and introducing robotic process automation (RPA) and promote new work styles by updating work rules and enabling new forms of communication. By becoming a group that achieves high levels of competitiveness and sound growth as its employees work with a sense of mission and job satisfaction, I want us to a set a favorable precedent that helps address issues in Japan’s job market.
Another of our focuses will be diversity and inclusion. It is important to establish conditions that allow us to implement the work-style reform that I just mentioned and thereby attract diverse personnel who can realize their capabilities and contribute significantly to operations. Looking back at the 30-year Heisei era, I feel that Japan ought to be chastened by the lack of innovation that was the result of excessive conformity. If I were to be self-critical, I would say that, in a similar way, we are still very much lacking in diversity and inclusion. The essence of innovation lies in gathering diverse individuals, embracing the resulting “good clashes,” and using them to find new value. Accordingly, we have to realize major innovations by achieving true diversity and inclusion through earnest consideration of each person’s talents and strengths that is uninfluenced by nationality, gender, or age.
To ensure the success of its reforms, the Sompo Group must pursue transformation that creates a mission-driven, results-oriented corporate culture. Consequently, we aim to evolve into a corporate group in which each person clearly understands his or her role, focuses on accomplishing it, and thinks and acts independently based on a strong sense of ownership. I would like our employees to consider what they can do in their areas of specialty and to hone their capabilities even further. I believe that companies that value such personnel sustain growth.