One of the biggest challenges for insurers in achieving excellence in data analytics is the competition for
the right analysts.
As companies get excited with the possibilities that
come from better analysis of their data, insurers are
faced with the problem of finding the right people to
perform the analysis.
Top-end insurers, those that understand their future is
in data and analytics, are looking at other places beside their own staff for help in data analytics, explains
Karen Pauli, research director for CBE TowerGroup.
One area that shows promise, particularly for the mid-tier and smaller carriers, is with core systems solution
providers. Pauli believes the tools vendors are providing their customers are constantly improving, which
takes some of the strain off the customers.
“The mid-tier insurers—even the bottom end of the
large insurers—don’t have 150 data scientists,” says
Pauli. “Who could afford that unless you are a top five
or top 10 insurer? The technology providers recognize
they need to bring better capabilities to the dance.”
Smart insurers look for help in different places and the
competition is heavy because they aren’t just compet-
ing with other insurers to find the right people; nearly
every industry is looking to data analysis as a way to
improve business, explains Pauli.
“There is no class among the 22 technologies we cover where analytics is not at least a work in progress or
they have capabilities that are adjuncts to the primary
technology,” says Pauli. “Vendors invest in R&D and it
lets the midtier insurers compete on the same footing
with an AIG or a Liberty Mutual. Maybe not toe-to-toe,
but they are in the same ballpark.”
Heather Wilson, chief data officer for AIG, agrees that
this is not an issue isolated to the insurance industry.
“I think the focus and sponsorship that our CEO and CIO
have on bringing technology, data, and science together
Finding the Right People
Goldberg doesn’t believe there is a
single tool that an insurer can bring in
that will handle all the data reporting
and analytics. What’s more important is
the underlying data and trying to understand the data sources.
“Insurers tend to have many data
sources, but you need to understand
how you are going to speak to them to
understand that when you are reporting
on the data with different tool sets you
are thinking about the source data in the
same way—clean and robust,” he says.
“As long as you have a data governance
process, there is a place for different
Wilson believes technology has been
a great friend to those working in the
field of data and analytics. New tools give
employees the capability to act in a more
agile manner, process things quickly for
insight, and bring in any type of data to
enhance and supplement internal data.
“One of the biggest advances I’ve
seen is what visualization has brought
to the table,” she says. “It allows us to
quickly gain insight or work through
predictive scenarios bringing lots of
correlations together in a visible manner.
Before, we had to do queries and wait for
an answer. Visualization has changed the
game and the conversation. This capa-
bility gives us indications earlier.”
Wilson believes visualization tools
also have changed the way data analysts
can collaborate as well.
“It’s dynamic and allows us to have a
discussion as opposed to sitting with a
static piece of paper with little insight,”
she says. “I realize our customers are able
to create, catalog, and share an aston-
ishing array of information through all
types of devices, which is making our
world smarter and more connected. I
try to bring that same approach to our
stakeholders at AIG through the data
Pauli also is encouraged by data
“You have a lot of smart people that
are good at using the tools, but how do
you get the insight out of what the tools
are generating,” she says. “You need an
actuary or specialized folks that can look
at the analytics and make a decision on
interpreting the data. The business side
needs to make those decisions and do
what-if scenarios. To me, the visual-
ization technology is transformative
because it turns good business people
Dashboards and data visualization
tools are becoming more commonplace
within the walls of insurance companies.
Underwriters and claims people are now
able to interact with the data.
“It’s a change and we know that
change takes a while,” says Pauli. “
Certainly the younger people you get in
the industry are more comfortable with
the technology. It accelerates the use of
analytics and the insight.”
Wilson works across the enterprise with
Unlocking the Secrets