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Chuks Udo Okonta
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has said its portal that will integrate all insurance transactions into a single hub will be deployed in the first quarter of 2020.
The Acting Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, disclosed this at the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN) 2019 insurance professionals’ forum in Abeokuta, Ogun State, whilst urging insurance firms to embrace new trends in technology. He added that the commission on its part is committed to improving the use of technology in the sector.
“It is on this premise that the Commission is investing hugely in automating most of its operations. To this end, the Commission’s portal that will integrate all insurance transactions into a single hub will soon go live. The implication of this will be a transformation of businesses to online. Hopefully, by the time we meet next year, our processes would have become fully automated and operational. Suffice it to say that NAICOM has at all times encouraged practitioners to imbibe the adoption of technology in their businesses,” he said.
He noted that insurers must understand that digitalisation has now taken precedence in people’s day to day affairs and the implication will be detrimental if they fail to fix that gap that it will create in their business between them and their customers, stressing that operators must effectively integrate into the robust financial circle for insurance to take its rightful place in the economy.
He urged operators to invest in technology in order to meet up with current phase of advancement and take their products to the door steps of consumers, adding that the demand by consumers for ease of transacting business is becoming clearer and aggressive and that how they respond to these demands will certainly determine their position in the financial market and long time sustainability of their businesses.
“If the industry is to effectively key into the financial inclusion target of the federal government, it therefore behoves us to reinvigorate and face the challenge of digitalising our operations not only to build trust, confidence and reassurance of all stakeholders that the industry is ready to encore its peers, but to enhance penetration.
“Insurance professionals need to be more alert and integrate SMAC as a baseline or core competency first before adopting newer technologies- the internet of things (IoT), telematics, “big data”, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), “chat-bots”, distributed ledger technology (DLT) and so on. Choosing carefully the customized and on-demand customer experiences we intend to target is essential before we can work backwards to map out or develop a strategy on these three things; How to get there; Identifying what ecosystem partners we need and our position in that ecosystem
“All of these simply mean, better decision making for all of us in the insurance industry. We all need to move beyond our comfort zone. This means moving beyond the current structures and culture we have in order to achieve our goals,” he posited.
According to the NAICOM boss, for this transformation to occur, strong leadership is required. Chief Executives of insurance entities must embrace this change and do so rapidly. “This is if they are all willing to benefit from the opportunities the digital era brings, so as not to be left behind as the industry is being transformed. The opportunities require that we reserve old qualities while engaging talent, focus and digital energy towards the new structures, model and culture which will become the energy of business transformation. Again, to recognize this, leadership is required,” he maintained.
Thomas noted that the Insurance Industry is indeed, in a position to embark on a digital journey that can have real impact on them and customers while exploiting existing assets.
President of the CIIN, Eddie Efekoha, said the digital era is here and Artificial Intelligence is playing a major role in its evolution as more organisations are embracing the idea of a single microchip processing multiple functions. Indeed, the future which Artificial Intelligence promises for insurance is a series of touchless processes from premium collection through to the entire claims process, he submitted.
“Big data is all around us, ready to be harnessed and put to use. As an industry, how are we leveraging on technology to simplify data analytics in order to: Make pricing of insurable risks more accurate; Enhance self-servicing of customers through interactive websites; Tweak sales practices in line with customer needs and wants in order to improve profitability; Cost efficiency and Maximize overall performance?
“Importantly, Artificial Intelligence has never been less expensive or inaccessible. The question that arises however is: what is the role of the modern day insurance professional as this evolution plays out and what will be his when this evolution attains its full cycle? How will he/she stay relevant in an artificial intelligence driven society? As you ponder on these questions, let me restate that any professional who wants to remain relevant must see the opportunities in the threats posed by this digital era,” he said.
He submitted that as operators embrace digital they should not overlook the dangers posed by cybercrime around them, stressing that Cybercrime isn’t a myth, it is real as the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) stated that in 2017, Nigeria lost $500million dollars to cyber-attacks, a figure up by $50 million from the year before. Globally, these numbers are even bigger and it is projected that damage related to cyber-crime will hit $6trillion annually by 2021. This Trojan horse is a big threat to professionals. As managers of businesses, we must keep abreast of the dangers its poses to businesses. Except we control this threat, we may have no relevance in the nearest future; that is if we still have businesses to run, he posited.