A student duo helped Pohjola Insurance map the preconditions for a digital insurance sales channel

The study focused on the needs of small business customers, for which the students sought fluid solutions from around the world.
Räätälöity opiskelijaprojekti Pohjola Vakuutukselle_projektitiimi
Nico Byman (left), Atte Pitkälahti (OP) and Aleksi Ala-Uotila

Master's students Aleksi Ala-Uotila and Nico Byman from the School of Business carried out an extensive study on the digital insurance sales of small business customers for Pohjola Insurance. The aim of the customised business project was to find out what small business customers expect and want from the digital insurance sales channel and what kind of solutions have been developed and implemented in the insurance market around the world for digital business insurance sales.

The students interviewed small-scale entrepreneurs for their needs, analysed the solutions of other insurance operators globally, created a customer service path model and developed the user interface model they recommended based on their findings. The research carried out in early 2022 was presented to the management of Pohjola Insurance and the experts responsible for the development of OP’s digital channels.

‘Aleksi and Nico committed to this project way more than expected. I would particularly like to thank them for their self-directed, determined and structured work. An example: Aleksi and Nico looked at the world's 50 largest insurance companies in terms of digital transformation. This comprehensive analysis produced so much data that it was actually quite challenging to include all findings in the final presentation given to Pohjola Insurance’s representatives,’ says Tomas Falk, Associate Dean of the School of Business and Professor of Marketing, who supervised the project.

The students’ investigation paves the way for the strategy work of Pohjola Insurance

The results both confirmed the previous research conducted by Pohjola Insurance and provided new and valuable information for future development work. It is now clearer to Pohjola Insurance what kind of digital services they should offer to their corporate customers.

During the research, the students came upon several important findings, such as the importance of highlighting voluntary insurance in digital services and the fact that small business customers need plenty of background information on the complex entity of corporate insurance. Background information must be easily accessible so that they can make decisions on the insurance they need independently without the help of an expert.

‘Pohjola Insurance is currently updating its strategy and its priorities for 2025.  As part of this work, we wanted to determine the wishes of corporate customers about digital services and channels. On the other hand, we wanted to see how digital services for corporate customers have been developed around the world. We wanted to approach the matter openly and with fresh pairs of eyes,’ says Jukka Impiö, Director, Head of Corporate Insurance Customers at Pohjola Insurance.

‘From the first discussions, Aleksi and Nico understood our needs very well. The focus of the research remained clear all the time, and it was easy for us to work together. The results were excellent and answered our questions even beyond our expectations. Nico and Aleksi seamlessly brought together the fruits of their background work and the findings of customer interviews in an easily understandable manner,’ Impiö continues.

A learning experience in the world of digital services and work skills

The student duo of Information and Service Management (ISM) major said that the project provided them with excellent practical experience in the development of a digital service and made it possible to develop their own competences as specialists.

Nico Byman emphasises that such projects combine studies with work in a student-friendly manner. Working on the project was a good counterbalance to studies and an excellent opportunity to utilise the skills I have learned at school in such areas as interviews, benchmarking and analysing my findings.

‘Even though the project was challenging in a positive sense, it was easy to combine it with studies, as we were able to schedule our studies alongside the project. The project’s objective was also designed appropriately according to the needs of Pohjola Insurance, and the results were genuinely beneficial to them. This made us motivated to do as well as possible and challenge ourselves in a new way. Me, Aleksi and Tomas were a good team, and working with Pohjola Insurance went very well.’

Aleksi Ala-Uotila, on the other hand, emphasises that although the final digital service may appear to be a simple solution for the customer, a large amount of research and development work is hidden behind the service.

‘It was very interesting to get a more accurate idea of how many levels development of digital services has and how many issues should be considered in the development process. For example, through semi-structured in-depth interviews, we were able to examine the needs of corporate customers in connection with digital services in depth. We were also able to bring up customers' thoughts successfully. I feel that my professional competences have improved considerably during the project, including communication between different stakeholders and guiding the project forward. These improved my interaction and project management skills, which will certainly benefit me once I start working.’

‘Thank you very much to Pohjola Insurance and Aalto University for this excellent project. We would highly recommend customised business projects to other students as well.’

Pohjola Insurance is Finlands largest insurance company. Pohjola Insurance Ltd was established in 1891 and became part of the OP group in 2005. Small companies are an important part of their customer base.

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