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API products: a great way to develop a business model and customer experience

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Conversation with Claire du Mesnildot at MAIF

As France’s sixth automobile insurer and first insurer in the associative sector, MAIF covers all the needs of more than three million members—property insurance, provident insurance, health, assistance, savings, credit etc—with a turnover of 3.7 billion euros in 2020.


Regularly acclaimed in terms of customer relations, in 2020 MAIF has become a purpose-led company, with the raison d'être of paying sincere attention to others and to the world and to placing it at the heart of each of its commitments and actions.


Introducing digital products

MAIF’s reputation and brand are built on foundations of positive, social activism. It is an organisation known for its purpose and values.

"Market interest in platforms is growing. This is an opportunity to bring our services closer to the solutions and surroundings where customers need them."

Owner of MAIF’s Insurance as a Service strategy, Claire du Mesnildot, explains how digital products contribute to this: “MAIF is based on so-called purpose-led insurance. Caring about our customers and partners is at the core of our strategy. Building meaningful, long-lasting relationships with platform providers is key to our success. We want to develop our business model and our customer experience, and so API products are a great way of doing this.

“Market interest in platforms is growing. This is an opportunity to bring our services closer to the solutions and surroundings where customers need them.

“For example, people rent apartments from a platform that offers related services such as home insurance. For us to be part of this process, we can serve third party platform providers and share our specialist insights and knowledge on, say, qualifying leads and pricing. This calls for an API-enabled way to go-to-market that allows us to easily control what information we want to share and with whom. This has been the starting point for IaaS.”

Digital means different

The team at MAIF knew how to make APIs for internal use, but needed help with making them ready and usable outside the organisation. To help grow API and digital product understanding and adoption, they partnered with APIsFirst and fellow members of The API Collective.

“APIsFirst was able to provide an international team with a global view on APIs-as-products, instead of a narrow view focused on our home market."

Claire describes that “We wanted to find a partner who could help us increase awareness of the market’s expectations and give us new methods and tools to address them. APIsFirst was able to provide an international team with a global view on APIs-as-products, instead of a narrow view focused on our home market. ”


“Working with The API Collective has given us an understanding of the market needs and we now have a clear direction and goal we are working towards.”, Claire explains. “Of course, as we are a large and mature organisation, it takes time to spread this new mindset and culture, but we are on our way.


“The tools and techniques of highest value to us were the ones that helped us gain market insights and write a solid value proposition for our services. We also got lots of great suggestions on how to improve our existing APIs making them simpler and aligned with industry standards. They are also experienced in agile working and so they quickly adapted to our three-week delivery sprints.”


Growing adoption across the organisation

The impact of digital products is felt across the organisation in teams such as marketing, digital, technology, legal or risk.


“To keep our stakeholders engaged in the process” Claire explains, “We invite them to take part in sprint workshops and show why it is important to grow our API capabilities. It’s been helpful to use benchmarks and case studies that are already familiar to some people and teams. They help to make the initiative more concrete and to share a common set of reference points.


“Having APIsFirst as an external partner was highly valuable in being able to consider all relevant stakeholders and identify the best ways to involve them. Outside expertise gives colleagues more confidence. Now we keep our stakeholders aware and engaged with regular insights and success stories both from our own organisation and from other companies.”

Lessons learned

Success from partnering with APIsFirst came from more than an improved go-to-market for MAIF’s digital products. Claire sums up what they learnt from the process: “One of the biggest takeaways for us was the boost in confidence. The API Collective experts validated that we are on the right path and gave us the needed tools to take the journey forward. We now feel comfortable arguing for the importance of our digital products and are confident in our own work.

“Changing...mindset and culture is a big task and an outside expert team can really help”

“For others looking to expand their digital products or offers, I would highly recommend getting external help. Changing your and your organisation’s mindset and culture is a big task and an outside expert team can really help you a lot. It’s also important to accept and embrace the trial and error mode since you will be doing a lot of that. We have maintained a great relationship and are constantly able to adjust the way we work and work together, which has been great.”


Photograph thanks to unsplash.com.



The author, Claire Barrett, is a Director at APIsFirst, helping organisations realise the full potential of APIs. She is also a founding member of The API Collective, and leader of the global Women In APIs community. Claire is contactable at LinkedIn on www.linkedin.com/in/claire-global.

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