New BB app from Sagicor

Sagicor introduces a new app to make roadside assistance more efficient.
Sagicor’s BB roadside buzz
Originally published in the Business Guardian on December 06, 2012
by Mark Lyndersay
Dyan Loutan-Ali (far right), VP, Trinidad Operations, Sagicor General Insurance (SGI), discusses the new SOS App with (left to right) Sagicor’s Michelle Serville, Manager, Marketing and Business Administration, Ronnie Balwah, Managing Director, Auto Assist and Roger Spencer, Assistant VP, Marketing. Photo by Ken Hong Mack, courtesy Sagicor.

Next Monday, Sagicor will formally launch its new SOS app for the Blackberry, but the Business Guardian got an exclusive sneak peek at the product last week.
Available free to all its private motor insurance customers, the Sagicor on Scene app provides access via one virtual button to the company’s roadside assistance service. Sagicor’s customers already have access to this service as part of their monthly premium, and the new app is designed to improve both response times and the effectiveness of the crew when they show up.

The cleanly designed software does two things well.
It makes it easier for someone needing roadside assistance –who is probably not in a particularly coherent frame of mind –to identify an issue they are experiencing by choosing an icon for say, a dead battery or empty gas tank and with a single press of that icon graphic, sending a notification with GPS coordinates to the roadside assistance crew.

The other useful thing it does is give that crew, who will be armed with a dashboard mounted Garmin navigation device, exact directions to the disabled vehicle (with a claimed accuracy of up to six feet) and a heads up on what they are likely to find.

The roadside assistance team from service provider Auto Assist can deploy heavy trucks to pick up vehicles, but can also use motorcycles to dispatch battery starters and fuel in traffic gridlocks with this information.
This isn’t particularly sexy information until you actually need roadside support, so the company’s advertising for the product has fun with the way people give directions in unfamiliar situations.

To be sure, the Sagicor software is a simple solution that depends on very little resources to do its work, but the information it transmits is expected to prove critical to improving the speed and usefulness of the company’s roadside response.
Sagicor has invested in maps it describes as “very accurate” from local company Mora Systems, though it’s still reviewing other options for the service.

Sagicor has already had a launch it reported as successful in Barbados and expects to do well in Trinidad and Tobago with the 15,000 motor vehicle policyholders it’s won in this island.
Sagicor General is staking a claim to be the first General Insurance company to launch a smartphone super app in the Eastern Caribbean and after its deployments in Barbados and Trinidad is looking to expand the service to Antigua and St Lucia next.

Sagicor sought the advice of RIM and LIME before choosing Westlearner, a Barbados based company, as the developer of the app.
With new software come some inevitable hiccups. Sagicor claims that its website will do a platform check and refuse to download the software to an incompatible system, but I cheerfully downloaded it to my Android phone where it could do nothing at all.

Sagicor targeted Blackberry as the dominant platform when it began development nine months ago and the app works on phones running versions 6 and 7 of the BB operating system, but the company has wisely noted the growing adoption of smartphones from other manufacturers and will introduce versions of the software for iOS and Android by the end of the first quarter of 2013.
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