Tokio Marine Nichido Fire Insurance Accelerates Its Digital Strategy: Japan’s First Co-creation Project With SAP Fioneer

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance is an industry leader in digital transformation initiatives, including innovations in insurance services. Today, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance is revamping its core system through collaboration with SAP Japan and SAP Fioneer, a venture company specializing in the financial services industry. We interviewed key people from the three companies to find out more about the new type of business they are aiming to realize.


Susumu Harada

Managing Director, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance

Susumu Harada joined Tokio Marine & Fire Insurance (currently renamed to Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance) in April 1985. After working mainly in overseas divisions and promoting and planning IT projects both in domestic and international countries, he was appointed as Executive Officer and Head Manager of the IT Planning Department of Tokio Marine Holdings. Since 2019, he is Managing Executive Officer of Tokio Marine Holdings and Managing Director of Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance. He oversees the IT and cyber security management for the entire group.

Hirofumi Suzuki

Manging Director, SAP Japan

Since joining SAP Japan in 2015, Hirofumi Suzuki has greatly expanded the consumer industry business through his outstanding leadership. As Managing Executive Officer, Industry Business Management, he was responsible for major enterprise customers in all industries, driving SAP Japan’s business growth. In April 2018, he was appointed as President and Representative Director. He has 31 years of experience in the IT industry and is committed to helping Japanese companies transform digitally with a focus on customer success.

Dirk Kruse

CEO, SAP Fioneer

Dirk Kruse has more than 20 years of professional experience as an executive in the technology and financial services industry. Throughout his career, he has worked with major international banks and insurance companies to support their transformation journey through strategic IT initiatives. Prior to joining SAP Fioneer, Dirk served as member of the Management Board and Head of Service Industries of SAP Germany. As SAP Fioneer’s CEO, Dirk Kruse is responsible for the company’s direction and growth by providing strategic, financial, and operational leadership.


Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance (hereinafter “Tokio Marine & Nichido”) is promoting a group-wide digital transformation. What is the background and purpose of this project?

Harada: Our society today is undergoing major changes. In addition to medium-to-long-term trends – such as demographic change, the advancement of technologies including automated driving technology and AI, and the intensification of natural disasters–, the pandemic that began in 2020 has led to a rapid digitalization of people’s everyday lives and business. The environment surrounding the insurance industry is also changing, and I have really come to feel that the rules of the game itself are constantly being renewed.

On the other hand, having a solid grasp of such changes by transforming ourselves can also present us with an opportunity to create new value. In recent years, the Tokio Marine Group has focused on expanding its post-incident services – from disaster prevention and mitigation over the detection of signs of accidents, to early recovery and prevention of recurrence in the event of an accident. Based on the Tokio Marine Group’s purpose (Protect our customers and society in times of need), we aim to evolve into an entity that can always support them.

Thorough use of data and digital technologies is indispensable in this process. With the goal of solving business issues in mind, we are speeding up the trial and error of various ideas, without being stuck with traditional ways of thinking. Another crucial factor is that we must not forget the power of people. In the insurance business, it is of utmost importance to stay close to our customers, and this cannot be accomplished by technology alone. All employees must truly understand the group’s purpose, interpret it as their own purpose, and constantly take on challenges with originality and ingenuity towards realizing that purpose. With the best mix of human and digital power, we aim to become an unprecedented new insurance company.

What are your thoughts on the importance of digital and IT at Tokio Marine & Nichido?

Harada: Our company formulated the “Nine Principles of Office Mechanization” about 60 years ago in 1961. By following these principles, which define the ideal form of IT governance, the utilization of IT as a true power of business management, and by implementing continuous improvements, we have firmly established the use of IT to support the group’s purpose.

Among the above-mentioned nine principles, there are two crucial ones to consider. The first is our “discernment” to select the latest and best technologies and solutions. This means, we always strive for advanced technologies according to global standards and evaluate their suitability for our medium-to-long-term business. The other is “execution capability,” which is the ability to carry out an IT implementation project end-to-end. It means that the IT department, management, and business departments work in unison to bring the project to true success and fruition. This includes its deployment and utilization, which is difficult to realize with mere technology implementation.

In addition, it is inefficient to proceed with this kind of transformation on your own. We believe it is essential to work with partners who have advanced knowledge and expertise. We are aiming to quickly incorporate the value of technology into our own business.

Revamping the core system with a “Fit to Standard” approach.

SAP’s package for the insurance industry – SAP for Insurance – has been introduced as the core system this time. You are the first company in the Japanese insurance industry to choose SAP for Insurance. What helped you to make your decision?

Harada: In order to maximize the value of the SoE (Systems of Engagement) that is responsible for the customer interface in the digital world, it is essential to update the SoR (Systems of Record), or core systems. We aim to enable agile system development and allow data to be linked flexibly between tgethe systems. With insistence on this realization, we proceeded with the selection of a new system.

It is said that ensuring the concept of “Fit to Standard” is essential to implement SAP for Insurance. Although this would require a major transformation of our own, we decided that this was the only and best way to meet our requirements for faster system development, shorter and lower cost implementation, and promotion of business standardization based on best practices. With a wide variety of APIs implemented as standard, we can accelerate the utilization of data by linking with various systems. In addition, from the system operation perspectives, we thought that we could concentrate on the study and implementation of high value-added areas by receiving the high-level management services that are based on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud.

Suzuki: Thank you very much. Above all, I think Tokio Marine & Nichido’s challenging spirit of being the first to adopt new technologies is very impressive. As a pioneer, you take into account the risks and hardships, but aim for the benefits that lie ahead. I felt that we would like to respond to your passionate desire to lead the digital transformation of the industry.

Harada: While it is true that there are many difficulties involved, being the first to adopt new technologies enables us to improve the skills of our IT department‘s employees and organizational capabilities. Also, IT departments tend to be rather passive; however, they will be required to acquire the attitude to take action on their own. This is because they will become the ones to lead change and create value in the future. I believe that a change in mindset through this attempt will lead to various new initiatives and the improvement of execution capabilities as well.

SAP Fioneer specializing in the financial services industry supports customers

The project is being carried out in collaboration with SAP Japan and the spin-off SAP Fioneer. What is new about SAP Fioneer?

Kruse: SAP Fioneer is a company that provides SAP solutions specifically for the financial services industries. It is a joint venture between SAP and the investment company DEDIQ, and has been in operation since September 2021.

Originally, SAP has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. In fact, more than 80% of the top 1000 banking and insurance companies in the world are SAP users. From our conversations with those customers, we learned that the financial services industry is one of the most rapidly changing industries. In this situation, SAP aimed to help redefining and sustainably transforming financial services. After much deliberation, we came to the conclusion that we needed a dedicated unit that could move agilely in response to customer requests. That is how SAP Fioneer was established.

We will enhance and provide SAP’s financial solutions to meet rapidly changing customer needs, including IFRS 17 (insurance contracts), ESG management, compliance with financial laws and regulations in each country, and strengthening end-to-end solutions such as data management. In the future, we also plan to start developing solutions that support cross-organizational digital transformation.

What kind of initiatives will you be undertaking for the Japanese market?

Kruse: Japan is one of the world’s largest economies, and the market size of the banking and insurance industry is also huge. In order to bring the value of SAP solutions closer to the many customers, SAP Japan‘s president Suzuki has been appointed as a director of SAP Fioneer Japan.

Suzuki: SAP Japan will continue to be the point of contact for customers. In cooperation with SAP Fioneer, we will develop and provide functions that support the digital transformation and meet the unique requirements of our customers. In addition, we will promote more than ever the movement of providing global knowledge to domestic customers and conversely, fulfilling the requests received in Japan and bringing those fulfillments (customer support cases) to the global market.

Promoting co-innovation based on co-creation with customers

It is reassuring for client companies to have the support of a dedicated, industry-specific company. What is planned beyond that?

Kruse: In addition, SAP Fioneer focuses on co-innovation to create value together with customers. By driving innovation through co-innovation with companies in various industries and at SAP, we work together with companies in the financial services industries to achieve their business growth and goals.

Harada: We have already started this co-innovation initiative between the Tokio Marine Holdings and SAP Japan to support digital transformation in small and medium-sized manufacturing companies. By linking the Tokio Marine Group’s risk data on our business activities and calculation algorithms for the amount of risk with the data existing in the SAP systems of manufacturing companies, we will develop solutions to evaluate the risks of manufacturing sites. The project will also lead to the provision of new insurance products and risk management services for the manufacturing industry.

The collaboration among the three companies will be a big step towards the digital transformation of Japan, including the financial services industries.

Kruse: In the future, the processes of banks and insurance companies will be merged, and more integrated financial services, called embedded finance, will be required along the customer journey. We know that this project with Tokio Marine & Nichido, which is aiming for the next generation of financial services, is a challenging project. But I am confident that we will be able to accomplish it.

Suzuki: The mission statement of SAP Japan and SAP Fioneer Japan is “to become an indispensable partner for the success of our customers and the company of choice for our customers and partners”. We will continue to work with Tokio Marine & Nichido to help them achieve their goals.

Harada: In addition to products, services, and support, SAP’s diverse customer relationships and credibility in the global market are very attractive. We believe that we can create great value by combining these strengths with our own capabilities. I want to help solving social issues not only by transforming our own company, but also by spreading our value far and wide. I have high expectations for SAP and SAP Fioneer as partners who will walk with us along the way.


This article was published in the Nikkei Business Electronic Edition Native Tie-up (February 10, 2022):

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