With the announcement that Insurity has acquired Valen Analytics, the core and analytics landscape has changed again. We have been tracking M&A activity and outside investments in the core systems space for some time, and the past year has seen a marked trend toward the acquisition of data and analytics firms by core systems providers.
Insurity and Valen are only its latest manifestation. Duck Creek acquired Yodil. In March 2016, Guidewire acquired EagleEye Analytics, and prior to that Millbrook. The momentum of these acquisitions and core providers’ other investments in expanded capability is morphing the core provider landscape significantly.
The insurance industry is awash in data, and more and more data presents itself every day. Historically, insurers had three choices for how to extend data and analytics capabilities across the enterprise. Many contracted with outside providers, for example, SAS, SAP and IBM. Others chose to build their own data and analytics capabilities. Both of these options had expense and skill set considerations that put these paths beyond the reach of most small and mid-tier insurers. They most frequently turned to the third option: spreadsheets. The big players had the best options – and smaller insurers having to make do struggled to join their ranks.
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When SMA surveyed insurers on their plans for becoming Next-Gen Insurers, we found out just how important data and analytics are. We measured insurers’ progress along seven “bridges” – initiatives that provide defined pathways upon which insurers can build transformation strategies critical to becoming a Next-Gen Insurer. The results were published in the recent report, Insurance in Transformation: Building 7 Bridges to the Future. The number one bridge was “majoring in data and analytics.” 95% of insurers are making progress in this area. It is imperative, therefore, that insurers look for ways to further their data and analytics capabilities.
Based on insurers’ three options for data and analytics, smaller insurers have been at a disadvantage. Although they are well aware of the importance of data management and analytics, they are limited by resources and skill sets.
While core systems have advanced in many areas the past 10 years, their data and analytics capabilities have typically focused on business intelligence functions, like operational reporting and data standardization. Predictive analytics and link analysis have not been within the scope.
The analytics firms that we are seeing acquired by core solution providers, however, have the deep expertise in these areas that many insurers have never been able to access. Smaller insurers and others who depend heavily on the built-in capabilities of their core systems stand to gain the most from this trend of core providers acquiring data and analytics expertise. The benefits are significant. Insurers that previously were not able to gain necessary insights from their data will now be able to obtain them. New insights that will allow insurers to innovate will go a long way toward leveling the playing field.
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Integrating the new acquisitions is a work in progress for the core providers. The major upside for insurers is that pre-integrating analytics into the core environment supports the trend of bringing analytics closer to real-time transactional processes. This is an important goal for all insurers to attain.