How Brazil’s Biggest Insurer Runs like a 21st Century Factory
Around the world, when many people think of Brazil they envision the famous coastline and the parades of Carnival. However, this emerging nation is also an up and coming international economic player. Global attention is also beginning to focus on Brazil since the country is host to the 2014 World Cup as well as the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
These are exciting times in Brazil and major international events will create an unprecedented number of new opportunities. Perhaps in anticipation, the Brazilian market has already rallied this year, with the Real rising more than 5%. According to Business Insight in Latin America, Economic growth in Brazil in the fourth quarter of 2013 came in above market expectations at 0.68%. As a result, 2013 growth totaled 2.3%, an improvement on the 1.0% growth recorded in 2012.
Brazil is on the move and Insurance and Reinsurance markets would be among the sectors poised to most benefit. Considering the size and growth of Brazil’s economy, it is reasonable to imagine the rise of at least one Brazilian reinsurer as a global player. With over a 40% market share, IRB Brasil RE is the largest reinsurance firm in the region and has consistently grown since its founding in 1939. Their headquarters is in Rio de Janeiro and their largest branch is located in Brazil’s biggest city São Paulo. With its rich history and recent privatization, the company is a tremendous source of national pride in Brazil. They also have offices in London and New York and have revenues of $1.5 US billion.
According to IT Manager Antonio da Torre Marques, the goal of IRB Brasil RE is indeed to become a global company. Their rating by U.S. agency A.M. Best of A- (excellent) was achieved by advanced development of internal control mechanisms and corporate governance. However, according to Marques, until recently the company lacked integrated systems and aspirations for international growth meant they would require more efficiency and global systems. Modernization needed to occur rapidly and the most immediate areas of need were mobility and cloud computing. Now this high degree of automation ensures that the right tasks are being performed in the right way and that issues are identified before their business is impacted.
“We realized we needed to get a better understanding of our IT landscape and also to empower our internal staff to work much more proactively…SAP delivered a specific roadmap for IRB to help us understand how run like a factory could help us”.
– Antonio da Torre Marques, IT Manager, IRB Brasil RE
Specifically implementing SAP “Run Like a Factory” has created numerous benefits including:
. Reducing transport requests by 50%, stabilizing systems
. Reducing cost of IT ownership by 7%
. Reducing IT non-compliant items by 85%
In less than one year IRB implemented the SAP Operations Control Center. SAP Solution Manager provides monitoring and alerts in real time, which is critical for a company whose business is contingent on monitoring and reacting in real time to world events.
The implementation of the “Run SAP like a factory” concept has enabled IRB Brazil to optimize and increase resources on innovation and growth. IRB’s SAP Operations Control Center includes Central Monitors and Dashboards and continuous optimization process for event and problem management. Marques said this has significantly reduced their cost of operations and created global transparency for business processes.
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Recently the company expanded into the continent of Africa when they acquired 4.8% of the capital of the African Reinsurance Corporation. IRB Brasil RE believes in people and a vision above simply maximizing profits. They are firm believers in social capital which allows for a view that goes beyond company growth and sees the bigger picture. In keeping with that vision, the company strategy in Africa is to take on the reinsuring risks created and generated by African GDP growth. It’s a win-win and culturally IRB Brazil feels at home in Africa since according to the company CEO “as Brazilians they are as Latin American as African in descent.”
While it’s clear IRB’s ascendance to a global company is underway, they remain firmly committed to helping their beloved Brazil in that process. Brazilian companies going global helps IRB meet their own goals since their foreign operations also become clients, therefore international revenues increase.
These are exciting times in Brazil and soon the international spotlight will shine on the entire nation. The action at the World Cup and in the Olympic Games will be fast but IRB Brasil RE has the technology to be ready. In the words of their IT Director Antonio da Torre Marques, “SAP is now seen as an integral asset to the company and we all count on SAP solutions to help us Run Better”.
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Great article Darren!
Excellent work Darren!!