Insurers are creating a new environment with vast amount of readily available data yielding new insights. Getting this right calls for robust data quality management and new approaches to dealing with the workforce.

In previous posts, I have talked about how external data is opening up new possibilities for insurers in areas ranging from underwriting to claims processing to product development.  Creating value from external data, however, is not always easy.  Some companies create a “self-service”  business environment – a decentralized, business-led setting in which analysts can rapidly access a wide range of unstructured data sets and new technologies, then build their own models and analytic.  Rather than controlling what data their analysts can access, these insurers are pushing for access to useful internal data and the technologies to obtain insights and the technologies to get these insights right away.

Insurers doing this also need robust data quality management, with rapid, near-real-time feedback mechanisms to deal with issues or inaccuracies emerging from within external data sources.  This becomes more and more important as the business becomes increasingly dependent on external data and the associated analytical models and processes.

The self-service environment also calls for new approaches to dealing with the workforce.  Analytics can no longer be the exclusive territory of data scientists; instead, larger segments of the workforce need to be trained to use analytics to add value to marketing and core insurance functions.  These individuals also need support from colleagues with the right skills, based on their unique insight into front-line challenges and opportunities.  Increasingly, managers will be chosen and evaluated based on their ability to use data, in addition to how they manage their teams, understand the dynamics of their jobs, and make decisions based on their experience.  As described in Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance 2016, the goal should be a “liquid workforce” that incorporates internal and external resources and readily adapts to new skills and tasks.

In my next and final blog on this topic, I will discuss some of the steps that insurers can take to build momentum in harnessing external data.

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