IMPACT OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) ON THE GROWTH OF NON-LIFE SECTOR OF THE NIGERIAN INSURANCE INDUSTRY
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
From time immemorial, information has always played a prominent role in human life but the emergence of social progress and the vigorous development in science and technology has immeasurably increased the role of information in every facet of human endeavour. The rapid expansion of a mass of diversified information has born the term “information explosion” and gave rise to a scientific approach in information and elucidation of its most characteristic properties which has led to principal changes in interpretation of the concept of information. It was broadened to include information exchange not only among men but also among machines as well as the exchange of signals in the animal and plant worlds. The pace of change brought by new technologies has had a significant effect on the way people live, work, and play globally(Agbolade, 2011).
Today’s business environment is very dynamic and experiences rapid changes as a result of creativity, innovation, technological changes, increased awareness and demands from customers. Business organizations, especially the insurance industry of the 21st century operates in a complex and competitive environment characterized by these changing conditions and highly unpredictable economic climate with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) being at the centre of this global change curve(Adesina and Ayo, 2010). Business organisations especially the insurance sector are operating in an environment characterised by a complex and competitive climate. In most developed countries, technology is a central element to deal with challenges in modern insurance operation, such as lowering costs and enabling efficiency improvements. Certainly, most insurance companies worldwide are growing primarily by utilising ICT to provide efficient insurance services to their customers (Elgahwash and Freeman, 2011).
The use of ICT in the insurance industry is relevant and beneficial considering the significant role of insurance in the economy. Amongst other, insurance promotes business activity by providing financial intermediary services necessary to induce economic growth (Ward and Zurbruegg, 2000; Liedtke, 2007; Apampa, 2010). ICT initiated a radical change in the latest style of insurance business in a way that is threatening the traditional form of insurance (Twati and Gammack, 2006). Technological advances are the most important variables which have contributed to the radical shift in the patterns of the insurance business in the era of globalisation; technology has focused the keen interest of insurance to intensify attempts to take advantage of the latest information technologies, communications and computers, and to adapt efficiently in order to invent insurance services and the development of novel methods of submission (Abubakar and Tasmin, 2012). Microsoft Encarta (2009) defined information and communication technology as the processing of data via computer: the use of technologies from computing, electronics, and telecommunications to process and distribute information in digital and other forms. Information technology combines the technology of computers and communications to provide information processing services throughout the office or around the world.
Information and communications technologies (ICTs) have changed the approaches to conducting business transactions and meeting the growing demands of customers for most organizations. The promise of ICTs in the insurance sector has been seen in terms of its potential to increase customer base, reduce transaction costs, improve the quality and timeliness of response, enhance opportunities for advertising and branding, facilitate self- service and service customization, and improve customer communication and relationship (Adesina and Ayo, 2010). Most insurance firms in developed and some in developing parts of the world are now offering e-insurance services with various levels of sophistication. However, most Nigerian insurance firms seem to be content with having a Web presence with only a few of them making strides towards full-fledged e-insurance applications. Therefore, this study shall assess the Impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the growth of Non-life Sector of the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Contemporary business practices and environment are heavily influenced by information and communication technological changes today. In order words, ICT is currently perceived as the engine of innovations and growth for modern business practices with insurance as no exception to this disposition. It is surprising however, to note that despite the enormous benefits derived from ICT in the field of business, trade, industry and commerce, in Nigeria it is widely speculated by social commentators and stakeholders that most insurance operators hardly embrace and fully explore the immeasurable advantages of ICT in their businesses.
The present system of business transaction in most insurance organizations in Nigeria is slow as a result of the manual transaction which is not efficient and effective as customers are asked to wait indefinitely on queue or come back another day because of the slow manual process or sometimes, network failure in transactions process. Despite advances in computer systems and the acceptance of such technologies by organizations in the advanced economies, the same level of adoption is not evident among several organizations in Nigeria which has negatively affected business growth and performance.
Many insurance firms are unfamiliar with operating a computer and are skeptical of the benefits and value it gives to the business and have the notion that ICT is only for multinational companies even when they have the will and financial resources to integrate ICT into their core businesses.
Many of the studies on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and growth of the financial system were done outside Nigeria. These studies particularly focus on the banking sector. Researches on ICT and growth of insurance industry are very few. In Nigeria, most of the available studies about Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and growth of insurance industry such as Obaremi (2007), Adeyele (2011), Fadun (2013) and Afande (2015) were too brief and lacking depths. Moreover, these researches were also theoretical studies whose findings were subjectively based on researchers’ personal opinions. It is noted that the past studies did not give adequate attention to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the growth of Non-life Sector of the Nigerian Insurance Industry, as well as highlighting plausible strategies that can stimulate the growth of Non-life Sector of the Nigerian Insurance Industry. It is against this backdrop that this research study is seeks to examine the Impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the growth of Non-life Sector of the Nigerian Insurance Industry.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The primary objective of this study shall be to examine the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the growth of Non-life Sector of the Nigerian Insurance Industry. Other specific objectives include;
i. To examine the relationship between Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and service delivery by the insurance industry
ii. To find out the relationship between ICT adoption and new product development in the Nigerian insurance industry.
iii. To check whether computer utilization is a predictor of cost of operation.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The undertaking of this research work shall be guided by the following research questions:
1.Is there a relationship between Information and Communication Technology (ICT) andservice delivery by the insurance industry?
2.What is the relationship between ICT adoption and new product development in the Nigerian insurance industry?
3.Is computer utilization a significant predictor of cost of operation?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The following hypotheses will be statistically tested at 5% level of significance:
1. Ho: There is no significant relationship between ICT and service delivery by the Nigerian insurance industry
HI:There is a significant relationship between ICT and service delivery by the Nigerian insurance industry
2. Ho: There is no significant relationship between ICT adoption and new product development in the Nigerian insurance industry
Ho: There is a significant relationship between ICT adoption and new product development in the Nigerian insurance industry
3. Ho: Computer utilization is not a significant predictor of cost of operation
HI:Computer utilization is a significant predictor of cost of operation.