Insurance Data Mastery Strategies

July 2004 — Celent provides a guide for insurance executives addressing the difficult issue of extracting useful information from masses of disaggregated data.

The ability to extract information from data is vitally important to the insurance industry. Few other industries are so rich in customer, product, and operational data, and so yet so poor in the ability to extract useful information from that data. Silo-ed systems and legacy environments make it very difficult for most insurers to extract even basic information from their databases in a timely and flexible way.

Like CRM, data warehousing has acquired a negative reputation due to many overpriced and under-planned initiatives begun in the late 1990s and subsequently judged as failures. Most large-scale data warehouse (and CRM) initiatives failed because of an over-focus on technology elements, and a lack of focus on the specific business goals and tangible success metrics of those initiatives. These disappointments should not lead anyone to conclude that it is pointless to try to extract information from raw data that an enterprise has collected.

Celent has coined the term “data mastery” to describe any initiative to extract useful business information from raw data which may be scattered throughout one or more systems in the enterprise. Data mastery encompasses all of the various methods of turning data into usable information through data consolidation and analysis; it includes technologies and methodologies like data warehouses and data marts, unified presentation layers, business intelligence, profitability analysis, and some elements of CRM.

“With today’s difficult business conditions and investment markets, CIOs are coming under renewed pressure to provide business strategists and operational staff with the information they need to plan and operate more effectively,” says Matthew Josefowicz, manager of Celent’s insurance group and author of the report. “A rising market covers a multitude of operational sins and turns attention towards expansion. But in this increasingly difficult environment, insurers have turned introspective. There’s renewed focus on streamlining operations, focusing on profitable businesses and customers, and improving underwriting results. All of this requires data mastery.”

This 29-page report provides an overview of the structures, technologies, and uses of data mastery within the insurance industry, as well as some best practices and guidelines. This report is intended to familiarize insurance IT and business executives with the roles that data mastery will play in their enterprise and provide them with a framework to successfully implement data mastery projects. Dozens of vendors offer solutions related to data mastery; these solutions will be reviewed in a future Celent report.

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