Introducing changes to the way of doing business doesn’t always translate to new products, nor does it mean disturbing current practices, but such innovations could make a difference to the quality of goods and services and the speed of getting them to customers.
This was the theme of Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn as he spoke with ICBL executives, staff, shareholders, and well-wishers during that company’s 40th anniversary celebrations over the weekend.
That business began as a state-owned enterprise trading in insurance then expanded its services over time; evolved into a private entity at the turn of the century; saw government cede majority interests to a Bermudan company by 2006; and today boasts of almost 200 staff, $400 million in assets, and 2,300 Barbadian shareholders, accounting for 48 per cent ownership.
Now with the company being a significant player in the financial services sector and trading on the Barbados Stock Exchange, ICBL’s declared Friday night at Sandals Royal, “We have matured into an all-encompassing life insurance company with innovative and creative solutions for our valued clients.”
Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Scott reflected on a number of the company’s digital innovations including a range of online services and quipped, “We can still take cash, although not for too much longer.”
Musing on the next 40 years, he said, “We’ve been doing research and our customers tell us that they want us to be easier to do business with,” adding that in response, the company will beef up its package of electronic services.
On the matter of innovation to suit customers’ demands Finance Minister Straughn said, “Persons can mistakenly think that innovation automatically means ‘new and improved’ or disruptive. It is not always necessary to formulate some grandiose idea, but one can also take an existing product and make a few tweaks, thereby helping to reshape [it], or create a new digital product for an existing market which leads to the creation of a product … which has a quick impact and brings greater value.”
He pointed to ICBL’s plans for increased use of digital platforms as encouraging. Consistent with this view, he said Government will be chipping in as insurance companies on the island will get a boost in the processing of motor claims through the soon-to-be-introduced electronic filing of accident reports by the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Pointing out that this will greatly help insurance companies more efficiently process insurer benefits he said, “We feel that given this technological intervention your assets need not be tied up unnecessarily and that speedy resolution with respect to not just the settlement of the claims can be done.”
“The world in which we live has become progressively more digital, and the customers of today are increasingly more comfortable using these new technologies. In fact, they have come to expect digital interaction in almost every area of their lives, including with insurers,” Straughn said.
He added, “The 21st century customer no longer has a tolerance for standing in long lines waiting to be served. They expect their interactions with service providers to be speedy, efficient and accurate.” (GA)