An Interview with Tony Dixon


SAINSBURY: What are your top IT priorities for the next 12-18 months?


DIXON: We will be continuing with consolidation of legacy systems into one system, continuing our virtual business on line initiatives and implementing a new BCP model while still trying to do more for less.


SAINSBURY: What are the most effective channels with which an insurance agency can engage customers to build loyalty and communicate information?


DIXON: The best is still one-to-one communication but of course there is a certain amount of pragmatism needed. With that in mind, for any form of communication to work all the relevant information needs to be readily available to hand and with insurance companies that’s still a character building challenge – abiet it sounds so simple!


SAINSBURY: Given mobility is set to become a dominant technology focus for engagement, where are the opportunities for insurance in mobile applications?


DIXON: There are some opportunities that are emerging but cost effectiveness is still the key issue when it comes to mobile investment and development. One exciting area I do see some value in is with online virtual advisors that would work a bit like Facetime on the Apple iPhone to assist with claims-related communication.


SAINSBURY: New Zealand is often a testing ground for technology innovation. What are some of the really exciting technologies you see are currently coming through?


DIXON: For me the release of the Windows 8 operating system across the mobile and tablet space is going to push boundaries to another level of intense competition. The benefit is on the developer side; the day that developers can write code once for many platforms will be a good day as it will lead to greater technology acceleration.


But that aside, our biggest challenges are still in dealing with the legacy systems whether they are air line reservations; banking systems or policy admin systems. This is where the serious investment will happen commercially with the strain on keeping up with the mobility of people and how they work.


SAINSBURY: How do you encourage innovation within your team?


DIXON: I’ve found the best way is by simply prompting by question. Often the most effective ways to encourage innovation is simply to help people understand that the universe itself opens the question but you have to be aware of it to answer.  As Billy Connolly once said “stay awake!” I believe that listening with the heart sometimes has the truth of it.


SAINSBURY: What inspires you – both in and outside of financial services?


DIXON: The drive to conquer, no matter what! It is part of my own make up. It is like winning a race of any kind the elation is what gets me satisfied and elated.


SAINSBURY: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they would like to be remembered for, what is yours?


DIXON:: I did well, I did it once; and people appreciated the effort.