From digital wallflower to digital disrupter
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We continue our look at the technology trends outlined in the Accenture Technology Vision 2014 for Insurance with a closer look at the data supply chain. This trend is all about embarking on a journey to ROI by liberating data, generating value from it, and operationalizing its insights to drive strategic decisions through the organization.

Most insurers understand that data is the lifeblood of their business, that it is a premier business and IT asset. But because they have adopted big data and analytics technologies in a piecemeal fashion, their enterprise data is vastly underutilized. Today’s data supply chain technologies hold the key to changing that picture.

Thanks to federated data services platforms, insurers can now unify data from multiple systems into a single view and enable business users to interact with the data in a standardized way. The implications of an efficient data supply chain are huge. Firstly, it gives organizations the ability to ingest new sources of data and build a robust data platform.

Secondly, the manipulation of data through new methods of data discovery can add significant value to the bottom line. Currently, only one in five organizations integrate data across the enterprise. But those few that do are realizing great benefits, not least when they allow data to discern the very questions that they should be asking.

Thirdly, insurers have many new opportunities to capitalize on data’s value on top of using it to drive better internal decisions. From forging new partnerships to creating new revenue streams, or even entering new markets, insurers now have more potential than ever to realize the true value latent in their data. For example, they can take advantage of the opportunities for data monetization—to sell data insights directly, share them through partnerships, or develop entire ecosystems around them.

Insurers could extend data they collect from telematics devices or wearables into their ecosystem of partners to offer even richer data about customers’ behavior and context. In addition to ecosystem partners and aggregators, insurers could even sell data to their own customers or offer it to them as a value-add—for example, usage patterns of commercial vehicle fleets.

For insurers seeking to defend market share and find new sources of revenue, this is an exciting development. Imagine, for example, the partnerships they could forge with retailers, automotive companies, and many others, based on the data they have about what their customers own, their behavior and their usage.

Moving towards a true data supply chain will be a challenging project for most insurers, one that will take many years. But the effort is worthwhile because it can help insurers to become more agile, data-driven, and customer-centric. Our advice is to transform through small steps rather than trying to make one giant leap.

An insurer could start by establishing a data services platform, followed by implementing a single data supply chain for a specific outcome. Once that’s done, incorporate another—and another. With agile tools such as self-service business intelligence, insurers can to get data rapidly into their end-users’ hands and start benefitting from better decision-making.

In the post that follows, I shall have a look at how the business of apps could help insurers to become more agile. If you’ve missed the earlier posts in this series you can catch up here, or you can read the full Accenture Technology Vision 2014 for Insurance.

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