The case traces the development of Ping An Company of China Ltd from its launch in 1988 to 2018. The company, founded by Ma Mingzhe in Schenzhen, started in insurance and became the first Chinese insurer to adopt a shareholding structure.
By 2018 it was the largest insurance company in China. The case charts the development of the company and how it diversified across financial services. In particular, it talks about its strategic transformation, which included attracting foreign employees and encouraging diversity.
A key pillar in the strategic transformation was Ping An Technology, a division of the Group created in 2008 that would develop its technology capabilities. This division was critical to later enabling Ping An to develop into an ecosystem player across five segments.
Ping An Technology had three core functions – including data, incubating new businesses and new products. Its immediate goal was to align the Group’s different IT systems, reduce bureaucracy and increase efficiency. Harnessing the latest technologies, Ping An would operate as a ‘human being’ with a brain formed of AI, its body of cloud computing, and a nerve, arterial and vein network of blockchain.
The case then charts the rise of the Technology division and its ambition to become a global technology ecosystem player. It looks at the core technologies that the division developed including facial and voiceprint recognition and medical imaging and their applications to different parts of the ecosystem.
The final part of the case looks at the five ecosytems – finance, healthcare, automobile, real estate, and smart city and Ping An’s collaborations and offerings. The case closes with Ma reflecting on the 15 years of the transformation but questioning whether Ping An’s technology leadership can continue given the challenges of competitors Alibaba and Tencent in financial services and Huawei, Alibaba and Tencent in smart city solutions. Ping An was also mainly a domestic player but served other parts of Asia, Ma questions what it will take for the Gorup to become a global player.
The aim of the case is to illustrate how a company can transform from focusing on one area, here insurance, to harness technology and transform into an ecosystem player. In particular the case addresses three learning objectives:
- Organizational – how an organization can co-evolve with its transformation.
- Strategic – how does strategy co-evolve with its transformation.
- Technological – what enables innovation when transforming. Additionally, participants will understand the particular Chinese approach to organizational transformation.