BrightRock’s Leopold Malan talks Business Insurance on Classic FM

Executive director Leopold Malan appeared on the station’s Classic Business show, where presenter Michael Avery interviewed him about business insurance.

Being able to afford the right cover is a stumbling block for many business owners, because traditional business assurance policies are structured the same way as personal life insurance policies. Leo’s interview on Classic FM was an ideal opportunity to put BrightRock’s needs-matched approach to business cover in the spotlight. Listen to it below:

The Brightest Idea for Your Business

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As small and medium enterprises continues to grow and boost the economy, business assurance for entrepreneurs is becoming more and vital. Are you adequately covered for changing needs and times? 

 

Small business is big business. From the hardware shop on the corner to the mobile food stand at the market, from the work-at-home web designer to the out-and-about dog groomer, SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) contribute more than 36 percent to the Gross Domestic Product of South Africa.

That’s a lot of enterprise, a lot of sweat and toil, and a lot of prospect for creating jobs and wealth and boosting the economy. But it also means a lot of stress and planning for the small to medium entrepreneur, who must learn to balance risk and reward as the business grows.

A big part of that planning is contingency: what if something goes wrong? What if something happens to you or your business partner? That’s where business assurance comes in, as part of the quest to create an “enabling environment” for SMEs to thrive, says Leopold Malan, Executive Director of BrightRock.

“Being able to afford the right cover is a stumbling block for many business owners,” says Leopold, “because traditional business assurance policies are structured the same as personal life insurance policies.”

In contrast, based on its unique Needs-Matched philosophy, BrightRock offers business owners flexible cover that matches their needs, with premiums that are up to 40 per cent cheaper.

Leopold uses the example of a small or medium business with a one-million-Rand loan from the bank.

“You might want to pay that off over 10 years, so you don’t want to be buying long-term cover for whole of life. You would be paying a much bigger premium than if you were taking appropriate cover just for 10 years.”

That’s why it’s crucial to look for a product that is relevant to your business needs, and flexible enough to cope with the most powerful and dynamic force in nature and in life: change.

“The entrepreneur is the most important asset in the business,” says Leopold. “Without the entrepreneur, the business won’t run. It’s important that you start your insurance by making sure you’ve got that individual covered.”

This applies equally to what is known as key-man insurance, which provides cover for the loss of a business partner, and to contingent liability insurance, which covers you for payment of a bank loan.

”Let’s say you start a small law-firm,” says Leopold. “People often forget that the professional fees you’re earning pays not just your salary, but also the overheads of the office. Being able to insure not your income, but the revenue you create for the services you deliver is very important. Because when something happens to you, all of that revenue dries up and then none of those bills can be paid.”

Work hard, dream big, plan ahead. That’s the formula for making it in business, whatever line of business you’re in. And if you include flexible, relevant cover for your business as part of your planning, you’re assured of the brightest possible future.

This article first appeared in The Comet, an online platform by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes.

David O’Sullivan interviews BrightRock’s Leopold Malan on Hot 91.9 FM

Executive director Leopold Malan was interviewed by David O’Sullivan on his Joburg PM-show on Hot 91.9FM about what it takes to start your own business, and how to equip it for a success story like the BrightRock success story. The interview was broadcast on Thursday, 8 December 2016 at 18:30 – listen to it below:

Cloud computing 101: five things you need to know

BrightRock executive director Leopold Malan shares his top five cloud computing tips.

1. It’s time to join the bandwagon

Cloud computing is not as new to the South African business landscape as you might think, with an increasing number of business owners signing up for cloud-based products and services. According to South African research firm World Wide Worx, there was a 10% jump in SMEs in South Africa using cloud technology between 2014 and 2015 – bringing the tally to 39%.

2. It’s not just a back-up service
Many people tend to associate cloud computing with data storage and transfer services like iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox, but it offers so much more than that. According to Ventureburn.com, South African companies utilise a range of cloud-based services, ranging from email (83%), online backups (47%), online accounting (37%), project management (27%) and online CRM.

3. Work anywhere, anytime
We’re moving into an era where we don’t have to be office-bound to do our work, and cloud computing is instrumental to this. Consumers of cloud technology are able to access information and services as long as they have sufficient internet connectivity. Under ideal circumstances, you also don’t need a desktop or laptop computer to access the cloud – up-to-date products and services are compatible with tablets and smartphones.

4. Cut down on costs
Think of cloud computing as the new outsourcing. If you have limited capital or resources, cloud computing is a fantastic way to cut costs. Systems like Quickbooks, Sage One, FreshBooks, Office365 and Abukai Expenses allow owners of small businesses to do big things with their admin. The affordability of some of these systems make them particularly attractive – some solutions are offered at monthly fees in the vicinity of R200 to R300, and there even are payroll systems offering integrated solutions at as low as R22 per month, per employee.

That said, you need to do your homework before signing up for a cloud-based product or service: Just like optional extras on a new car, add-ons can prove to be costly – not to mention a lack of technical expertise on both ends of the cloud-based relationship, which brings me to my last point.

5. Choose carefully
The cloud is one of the safer places in a world where data disappears thanks to viruses and theft. Should any problems arise, you have the added benefit of not being responsible for fixing it – systems issues lie with the service provider. Make sure that your cloud service provider has a proven customer service track record with experienced and knowledgeable technicians on the back-end who are able to assist you on a 24/7 basis.

Also be extra cautious with sensitive or valuable data. One of the ways you can ensure that your data stays extra safe, would be to opt for a hybrid system that allows you to use both your servers and the clouds as a backup. This will also allow you to suss out the reliability of the service you opted for.

  • This article was originally published on BizCommunity.com on 6 June 2016.
  • Leopold Malan has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, the majority of those years spent consulting and working within the financial services space. He currently heads up integrated processing, systems and IT division at BrightRock, provider of needs-matched life insurance.

Our wireless future

17 November 2014. By Leopold Malan.

When I look at the latest technological trends and developments in agriculture, I can’t help but wonder to what extent farming in the future will be done by remote control. 

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I recently stumbled on an interesting interview with US scientist Dean Anderson,who is known for his research in the field on virtual fencing. He firmly believes farmers of the future will be able to contain and control their livestock through wireless fencing.

This will be done by setting up virtual perimeters on their farms. The livestock is contained in spaces he calls ‘electronic polygons’ through GPS devices that are attached to the animals and are known as Ear-a-rounds.

According to the Economist, these devices control the animals through “quiet sonic alerts, mild tingles, major ones to shouts or shocks” on the ear opposite to the direction in which the animal is being nudged. “You could be driving your property in your air-conditioned truck and you notice a spot that received rain in the recent past and that has a flush of highly nutritious plants that would otherwise be lost,” explains Anderson.

“Well, you can get on your laptop, right then and there, and program the polygon that contains your cows to move spatially and temporally over the landscape to this ‘better location’. Instead of having to build a fence or take the time and manpower to gather your cows, you would simply move the virtual fence…”

Just imagine what this technology will mean for ‘free range’ farming. Watch a video demonstration of a virtual fence in action here. With this kind of technology, farmers might even reach a point where they will be able to control their farms thousands of kilometres off site. The security implications should, of course, also be considered. One of the blogs I read about this went as far as to say we’ll also need to answer the question of how to deal with cow-hacking and virtual rustling!

I previously wrote about the surveillance capabilities of drones, but there are many more technological marvels that are making farmers’ lives easier. We’re already able to monitor cables and wires with technology that sends SMSes as soon as anything has been tampered with (GSM has some interesting technology in this regard).

Solar- powered CCTV cameras enable farmers to keep tabs on troughs, tanks, livestock conditions, traps, security and more. Tagging systems are also becoming more advanced, not only assisting farmers with surveillance and the counting of cattle (like Tramirloc for example), but also enabling the monitoring of soil moisture and movement.

All of this technology comes at a price, of course. Virtual fencing is said to cost around $600 (R6714) USD per cow, but the developers hope to bring the price down to around $100 (R1120). The fact remains everything is becoming more affordable and accessible.

So when will we see this technology on local soil?

* Leopold Malan has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, the majority of those years spent consulting and working within the financial services space. He currently heads up BrightRock’s integrated processing, systems and IT division.

** This piece was first published on BrightRock executive director Leopold Malan’s BrightBytes blog on the Farmer’s Weekly website.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the drone era

13 October 2014. Leopold Malan.

If you look into a city-sky, you’ll probably see a plane or a helicopter once in a while. Fast forward to a few years from now, city slickers will be very likely to see some spider-like vehicles hovering up there, serving as security cameras or delivery vehicles. By BrightRock executive director Leopold Malan.

And by the looks of things, this will happen sooner rather than later. Take the day of the verdict in the Oscar Pistorius trial as an example. It wasn’t just the accused that attracted the attention of the crowds waiting outside the High Court building. A drone also attracted its fair share of attention while it hovered above the scene to capture images of the fracas.

These flying machines are very likely to gain an increasing presence in our everyday lives. Earlier this year, online retailer Amazon caused a stir when it announced plans to start delivering packages to homes within 30 minutes using drones.
Considering the surveillance and delivery capabilities of this technology, the benefits of using drones in the agricultural space seem endless. In one of his earlier blogs, Greg Miles mentioned how drones could make the monitoring of watering troughs, livestock and the scanning of crops easier.

Affordability and size are definite drawcards, with prices varying between R1 000 and R100 000 and the length of a typical drone measuring around 1,5m. Range and controllability shouldn’t be a concern, with many drones programmed to return to the spot it took off from if it moves out of range. The only concern, it seems, is user friendliness.

In his article, Farming with Drones: No Single Solution, Ben Potter writes about the “negative reflex” we tend to see with new inventions, which leads to a delay in the uptake of technology like drones. Many farmers are unlikely to have the time to learn fly their drones, or to sift through all the data acquired from them. But as the technology progresses, it will hopefully become more accessible and less time-consuming to adapt to it.

A functionality I’m particularly excited about is some of the agricultural drones’ ability to collect data that’s not always visible to the human eye. Just imagine – no more walking, driving or flying planes to survey your land; simply launch your own drone (which you probably bought online) from your backyard to monitor soil moisture, crop disease or the body temperature of your cattle through an attached camera’s infrared imaging.

This could lead to substantial savings and increased efficiency with irrigation and the use of pesticides as we move into an era of data-driven agriculture. And if the idea of delivering a normal, day-to-day items by drone really does become a reality, urgent deliveries in the agricultural space could also be much, much easier and more cost effective.

* Leopold Malan has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, the majority of those years spent consulting and working within the financial services space. He currently heads up BrightRock’s integrated processing, systems and IT division.

** This piece was first published on BrightRock executive director Leopold Malan’s BrightBytes blog on the Farmer’s Weekly website.

 

 

 

 

Building a customer centric business

13 March 2014. SA Leader.

In our modern world consumers expect companies to be intelligent and connected.

Leopold Malan one of the founding partners at BrightRock insurance discusses with Geoffrey Dean, Publisher of The SA Leader, how BrightRock designed its systems and material in a very conscious effort to “debunk the gumpf” and to build products and systems that work for the customer, not just the company.

To listen to the podcast of this interview, click here.
(Originally published in SA Leader.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eliminating the CEO

1 February 2014. The Business Brief.

When a group of business partners join forces to start a new company, the selection of a single leader often is a predicament. What to do when each founder brings unique expertise to the table and invests equal time, effort and risk in the venture? BrightRock executive director Leopold Malan explains.

In instances like these, it may be counterproductive to single out one founder as the CEO. Decision making processes and the growth of the start-up could be inhibited because of a lack of collaborative spirit. A limited sense of shared ownership and passing the buck to a single leader is also not conducive to growth, especially is the leader’s experience is skewed towards a single division or function of the start-up. This could ultimately lead to the growth of silos.

The solution? A flat leadership structure which eliminates this risk and enables the growth and success of the start-up — especially where the founders have to grow their own respective teams around their expertise. In instances where the founders of the start-up have an equal say in the company, the growth and the management of these functions tend to enjoy equal priority.

A flat leadership structure ensures that everyone has a say about what they do and how they do it. The nature of debates and discussions in this environment is passionate and rigorous and moves the company forward. This progression happens on condition that the leaders’ values and ideals are aligned and that they fully trust one another to make decisions that are in the best interests of the start-up.

Over the last decade, flat organisational structures have become more popular, with many leadership experts observing the latest trends — and challenges — in this field. Business publications regularly list top performers and top companies to work for — and an increasing number of these companies ascribe their success to their flat organisational structures. A regular top-performer is Google, who sets the benchmark in terms of flat organisation, lack of hierarchy and a collaborative environment. Other examples include Apple and Facebook — companies where employees are encouraged to take charge, participate in decision-making and all employees feel responsible for the company’s success.

Flat leadership requires a balancing act between explicit and implicit leadership. In their Harvard Business Review article, Are you a collaborative leader?, Herminia Ibarra and Morten T. Hansen explain that collaborative leadership starts at the top — managers have lead by example if they want to encourage a collaborative culture in their organisations.

Start-ups (especially growing ones) tend to have limited human resources and the optimisation of expertise through cross-functional interaction is crucial to ensure success. Collaboration should flow through the respective teams on a multi-disciplinary basis. The elimination of a single leader and the implementation of an equal, flat leadership structure facilitates this, by levelling the playing field, encouraging cross-functional collaboration and transparency throughout the company.

So is the CEO a thing of the past? Not necessarily. Responsive and flexible leadership models are more important than ever. The no-CEO model works well for many companies in the start-up phase, but it’s important to stay aware that as the business grows and evolves, the de-evaluation of the leadership structure might be necessary.

What should be non-negotiable, however, is that the collaborative spirit remains firmly entrenched in the company values.

(Originally published in Business Brief on 1 February 2014)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simplicity, & Sophistication

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Oh, for the Simple Life Life is easy when you know how, and at BrightRock, IT expert and systems architect Leopold Malan knows how in the way that suits you best. 

Down in the Langkloof valley, between the Kammanassie and the Kouga mountains, just off the R62 in the Western Cape, you can drive and drive until your cellphone signal disappears into the sky.

That’s one of Leopold Malan’s favourite places in South Africa, far from the noise and bustle of the Big City where he spends his working days and nights.

“I love the vibe and excitement of Johannesburg,” says Leopold, “but I also love spending time in the countryside whenever I can and not hearing a cellphone ring. It’s a good place to get some thinking done.”

These days, the topic uppermost on Leopold’s mind is nothing less than life itself. How to make it easier to understand, how to deliver it more efficiently, how to make it less  cumbersome, complicated, and, quite frankly, old-fashioned.

Because life as we know it is changing, and Leopold is right there in the frontline of the revolution.

As a founding partner and Executive Director of Processing at BrightRock, Leopold’s area of expertise is harnessing technology and people in a way that makes it easy for you to forget about
the technologies, and focus on your needs.

By way of example, Leopold points to the interactive, electronic policy document that BrightRock uses in place of a pen-and-paper fillable form. It’s called the Owner’s Manual.

“Many people don’t see their life policy as a living asset,” says Leopold. “It’s a document that you get in the post, and you put it away in the hope that your family will be able to find it. We want to make it a much more interactive process. An interactive pdf is much easier to go through, and it’s quickly updatable and shareable.”

It all comes down to the quest for a simple life, using the intricate architecture of information systems, built from scratch, to make the process of selling, buying, and claiming on a policy as seamless and as straightforward as possible.

“Simplicity is in our DNA,” says Leopold, who brings a wealth of practical experience in IT and insurance to his role at BrightRock.

“Simplicity, and sophistication.”

Combine that with the occasional expedition to your personal place of quiet contemplation, and you’ve got the ideal recipe for life as it should be lived. Brightly.

This article first appeared in The Comet, an online newsletter by BrightRock, provider of the first-ever life insurance that changes as your life changes.