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Does the Big Data Future Start with One Step Back?

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The old saying, “Data Rich, Information Poor,” seems more applicable today than when it was first coined.

Paradoxically, at the same time as we are facing data avalanche, the most important tool to exploit 21st-century data might be one that has been around for more than three decades.  However, this “one step backward” approach may point us to a better customer-centric future.

Is Big Data too big for us at the moment?

Insurers generate a large amount of data.  With the advent of Social Media, Telematics, and other Internet of Things technologies,  these data sets are going to increase in size and complexity by orders of magnitude, and will extend beyond the boundaries of the enterprise.

We have heard how these massive data sets could and should be informing our underwriting, marketing, claims, financial decisions.  However, utilization is still in the formative stages.

As reported in Computer Weekly, a BearingPoint study found that while 70% of insurers defined Big Data as a priority, only 10% had a corporate strategy for it.  Big stumbling blocks were lack of skilled resources and general lack of understanding within the organizations.  As a result, only 37% of insurance executives said their organizations were prepared to implement Big Data driven new ideas.

So where can we turn? 

Data from a study of smaller company marketers suggests that most next generation tools are not widely exploited.  In a recent survey conducted  by Ascend2, reported in eMarketer, the most effective  data tool today was plain old Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  This beat out marketing analytics software, email marketing management, and marketing automation and, SEO.

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(As an aside, back in May, this blog explored the re-emergence of a concept called ‘Market of One’, which was driven by early stages CRM tools.  This concept looks a lot like the current marketing nirvana of ‘Personalized Marketing’.)

Can CRM take us forward? 

Several developments suggest that CRM could be the gateway drug to proper exploitation of Big Data and related tools.

Accenture recently announced a new tool built for insurance agents which provides sales management with “visibility into the end-to-end agency performance cycle, from the establishment of agency and territory sales goals to tracking production results and developing individualized action plans to improve agent performance.”

The application is built on Salesforce, a cloud based CRM platform.  This approach allows ease of implementation combined with the ability to scale rapidly.

And how far can we go?

A major benefit of using modern CRM technology as a starting point is that most versions link relatively seamlessly to external data sources and social media tools.

At the recent Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum, Jim Ryan from AIG provided a an overview of its CRM approach, now live with large commercial clients and several international brokers.  The core is the Salesforce CRM, which has been expanded to allow a social-media driven marketing, collaboration, and a service platform.  The benefits include real time access to accurate data by stakeholders inside and outside AIG.

Jim noted that in future, this could be tweaked to handle personal lines, and small commercial insurance.  As well, the platform could be extended directly to the customer.  Rather than causing disintermediation, Jim believes that this will enhance the real value of the independent agent/broker who will be able to better focus on the relationship manager and trusted advisor role.

What do you think?

I confess that the real utility of social media and Big Data escaped me for a while.  However, when I see the creative application of tools to support a truly customer-centric environment, I can get excited.

How about you?

 

One Comment

Wendy Watson

I was excited and invigorated to hear what Jim Ryan had to say and see great value for brokerages. This means having resources and the know-how to leverage this information and technology. I see real partnership opportunities between brokers and carriers to capitalize on this data.

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