Modern Insurance Magazine catches up with Craig Olivier, Group Chief Technology Officer at Genasys Technologies, to find out more about his journey into the insurance technology sector, challenges being faced and predictions for the industry in 2023 and beyond.
Q. Let’s start by talking about your role at Genasys…
A. I’m Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Genasys Technologies. I joined the company around 25 years ago as a developer, fresh out of college and just as it was starting up, so I’m very proud to be regarded as a co-founder. We’re an insurance software solutions provider and our approach is simple: we enable our clients to evolve their technology and product offering, while succeeding fast on the customer experience.
When I started, there were four of us. Now there’s around 150 of us and counting, which is a testament to the steady and consistent growth we’ve seen since the beginning. We’ve worked incredibly hard to expand Genasys into new territories beyond South Africa, including a focus on the UK. As a result, we now support clients across the globe to manage a gross written premium of over £1 billion.
It’s been an exciting journey for us so far. To reflect our trajectory as a global insurtech, we’ve opened our new global technology innovation headquarters in Cape Town – which I head up. Even now, in my role as Group CTO, I’m still placing myself in the shoes of developers. I’m constantly working with our team to create the best product available, now and for the future. After over 25 years in business, we have a depth of knowledge that means that what we deliver works for insurance businesses because we understand their needs and speak their language.
Q. So, what are the challenges facing your business right now, and how are you working to overcome them?
A. I’m focused on maintaining the ‘challenger’ culture within Genasys as we continue to grow. Scaling any business means constantly reviewing the priorities and how these evolve; we want to take our team on that journey with us. It’s common for the identity of a business to change as it grows, but for us, it’s about making sure that we stick to what made us successful in the beginning – being able to deliver a strong product for our customers, enabling them to flex for the future and embrace innovation, all while operating as a genuine partner.
Great tech gets to the heart of removing operational inefficiencies as well as customer frustrations, but insurance businesses are often side-tracked by innovation for the wrong reasons, and not focused on these major, age-old problems that we want to solve. This is a real industry-wide challenge, and over the past 25 years, we’ve seen insurance companies repeatedly tripped up by hype – driven by buzzwords rather than using the right tech to solve genuine business issues. So, for us, continuing to cut through the hype remains a key driver as we help businesses to explore how innovation through digital evolution can be effectively used to support their commercial vision.
Q. If you could go back to the start of your professional career, knowing what you now know, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
A. One of the biggest pieces of advice I’d offer to myself would be to keep concentrating on being technical. I was, and continue to be, very much focused on building technology which addresses the business and consumer needs of the industry we’re in. Secondly, I would tell myself to ensure that there is value creation in everything you do. In terms of what I do now, that ‘value’ is bringing the technology and the insurance business puzzle-pieces together. Thirdly, your people are super important in any business – creating the right culture and establishing transparency is some of the best advice I could give. People first.
Q. What would be your prediction for the industry in 2023 and beyond?
A. Insurance is an ideal model for disruption and innovation, but the challenge is getting businesses to embrace these changes and to do something about it. Doing nothing is just not an option if you want to survive long-term. At Genasys, our approach is to make sure we have a fluid and dynamic product model to adapt to the changing world. We’re always alert – exploring how innovation can be used to support the insurance industry’s aspirations, and looking at how we then translate this into the real world of business.
While I don’t foresee any fundamental changes within the types of insurance available, the industry will be more focused on operational efficiencies and more personalised types of cover for the consumer. Insurers are now selling to a new generation of people that have different priorities, needs and interests; therefore, it’s crucial to have an agile product with the right interaction to reflect this. That means a gear-change in product innovation and automation, so insurance businesses need the right technology now and in the future to support consumer demand.
We’ve got a good idea of where insurance is going to go, and how automation and responsible AI will change interactions and personalised insurance covers. A number of years ago we opened our architecture up to future-proof our software platform. We’ve also focused on finding the right ecosystem partners to enable our customers to easily integrate beneficial technologies – AI being one of them – throughout the insurance user journey.
Q. What made you want to work in this sector?
A. My initial focus was always on the technology, and I ended up in the insurance sector by pure chance. In retrospect, I think this sector feels right for me because insurance and its place within the wider financial services sector poses so many great challenges that software can help to solve.
I believe in the positive impact of technology to change the consumer view of insurance, and magic happens when you partner with insurance businesses who have the same ethos. I’m very much in touch with my roots as a software developer through my role as Group CTO and leading the Genasys Product and Innovation Campus. It’s a great position to be in.
Q. So far, what has been your most significant or proudest achievement in your current or previous roles?
A. I’m always proud of the product that we sell. As a team, we’ve made great architecture decisions right from the beginning, which means that we’ve been able to create, develop and deliver a fantastic product. Compared to other policy administration platforms on the market, ours is fully scalable, and it’s allowed us to consider new territories and markets as a consequence. This flexibility and agility has enabled our business to grow.
We know that we’ve got two key assets at Genasys – our product, and our people. I believe that we’ve managed to create an awesome culture, and a group of people that believe in our strategy and where we’re going. There’s a real ‘can do’ attitude at Genasys. As a team, we’re focused on getting it right and being a genuine partner to our clients as we help them to realise their digital capabilities. Our priorities today are the same as they were back when we were first building the Genasys platform. Some things never change – and some things never should!
As published by Modern Insurance Magazine here.
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