Tavio Roxo, co-founder and CEO of Ongawari and OWLSTM Software gave us his thoughts on 2020 and his expectations for 2021.
OWLS TM Software gave us his thoughts on 2020 and his expectations for 2021.
COVER: As an insurance software technology provider, what are your thoughts on 2020?
Tavio: 2020 had a profound impact on the way that people operated and use technology. No massive changes, but lots of small incremental changes, which individuals and businesses implemented over the course of the year. You know, it’s all these sort of minor or minute little changes, as a whole, and which everyone makes, that has a complete shift and a profound change in the way people operate. Little things, like moving from face to face meetings on to zoom and then making sure that they have the infrastructure at home with the Wi-Fi etc.
Where some didn’t have Wi-Fi before, everyone now has Wi-Fi at home, even a full structure set up. And with that comes quite a strange little nuance, which is instantaneous expectations, which people are expecting when they are interacting with any cloud piece of software to buy a plane ticket or book accommodation. Similarly, with insurance, we have found that people are expecting things to happen on a much quicker rate than what they were satisfied with before.
COVER: So that would have a whole lot of knock on effects, but I think most probably good. Where do you think the industry lacked, strong response during this time?
Tavio: By and large, I actually think the industry did quite well. There were lots of premium holidays, and lots of the people that work in the industry were very quick to shift from face to face to an online environment. Some of the guys who were perhaps lagging in terms of technology were quick to understand that they were lagging and, at least from where I’m sitting, we certainly were inundated with requests for upgrades from paper based systems or XML based systems to more up to date technology based systems. This assists with automation and in bringing the workforce collaboratively together. I am sure that this will probably continue in 2021.
COVER: Do you think that the industry managed to bring policyholders with, in terms of this shift to a more digital environment?
Tavio: I think the first thing that has to happen is that you have to set up that new environment, and I think that 2020 was a year in terms of which people were setting their whole infrastructure up. I would say that, if the trend continues on the same path that it’s going at the moment, over the next six months to a year, there definitely will be a shift where they’ll start incorporating the policyholders and bringing them into this new technology infrastructure. So, to answer your question, I think they did as much as they could, but with the constraints which they had. I expect further big changes in 2021.
COVER: So, from your perspective, how did your clients react and how does this response then carry through to 2021? What was the first thing that happened for you, from your client side?
Tavio: I think, for us, one of the biggest ones is that in technology implementation you typically have a lot of face to face meetings in order to inspect a system and to define the parameters of the system, prior to implementation. And those meetings, traditionally, always happened face to face. In previous years we tried to insist that the meetings happen virtually.
There are many efficiencies in virtual meetings, such as that you can record the meeting in real time and that you can bring in many people, from all over the country, into the very same meeting, without much logistical effort. But people were very reluctant to do it. Now, since COVID, that is the way that business operates and how implementations happen in our world. This shift, which we had hoped would have occurred five years ago and just didn’t occur, now had to happen. Now everyone’s arms were twisted and I think that we are all better for it.
COVER: As a software provider, what will you be focusing on in 2021?
Tavio: One thing which we’ve always known, that has become even more apparent, is that we have to focus on our people, both internally and externally. Because, if our people aren’t healthy, or safe, business won’t happen. So we’re going to focus on the actual people, on the staff and their clients, in terms of making that journey frictionless. Then to focus on the technology. There are shifts and there are profound shifts in the way that people operate and the way people express their expectations of clients. The expectations of our clients and their clients. We, therefore, have to make working with insurance much easier.
We have to make working with insurance simple for the clients and their clients to understand. You therefore have to evolve your technology landscape, to simplicity, ultimately. So it’s a journey, which we are on as a technology provider, in terms of trying to get better and better at removing all the heavy lifting technology in the path of the client.
This way they just see a very simple interface, a very simple product and a very simple benefit structure. But meanwhile, in the back end, there is a fair amount of technology, running all of that which our clients, and their clients, do not need to see any of.
COVER: Are you excited about those opportunities?
Tavio: Very much so. I am more excited than I have been in years past. I’ve been trying to move into a place where it is a virtual world, a cloud based world, a world where things happen instantaneously, quickly, efficiently. And now, with the landscape that we’re in, it’s providing us with the opportunity to be able to really harness it. So yes,
we are very excited.
COVER: Lastly, from a personal perspective, what do you think has been the biggest change that you might carry through after this?
Tavio: I think one of the difficulties that I had last year was this morphing between work and personal life. Being available doesn’t mean I am available if you know what I’m saying. Just because I can work all the time, doesn’t mean that I should be working at 10 o’clock at night. So, one of my focus areas for 2021 is to try and have that distinction between when I’m working, and when I’m spending time with my family and friends and trying to almost switch off from work during that time.
That was one of the biggest difficulties that I had last year and one of the things that I’m looking to, hopefully, change in 21.