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Valen Analytics’ Kirstin Marr

Kirstin Marr, President of Valen Analytics, talks about how the insurance marketplace is making strides in its use of data analytics, and how Valen is positioned to serve those needs and grow.


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3 Reasons Millennials Should Join Industry

With more than 70,000 expected U.S. retirees in 2017, the insurance industry faces an imminent talent crisis. Industry leaders have been eagerly searching for ways to recruit and attract young talent to replace the outgoing staff, but, due to poor industry perception, it remains an uphill battle.

The Insurance Careers Movement began as a grassroots, industry-wide initiative to combat the coming talent shortage and the ill-fated perception of the industry. We endeavor to empower young professionals who already work in insurance to share their feedback and experiences, educating their peers and students about the vast career opportunities available to them. As a part of the annual Insurance Careers Month each February, we conducted interviews with more than 30 millennials from a wide range of insurance carriers and agencies about their thoughts on the industry.

Contrary to the general perception outsiders have of insurance, findings from the interviews revealed that many younger workers view insurance as a dynamic field with significant opportunities for growth and development of personal relationships with customers and coworkers. In fact, their responses largely resemble the theme of the movement, referring to insurance as, “the career trifecta,” to emphasize the idea that pursuing a profession in insurance is stable, rewarding and limitless.

Here are the three recurring themes mentioned across all the interviews:

1.It’s Stable

In many of the interviews, one of the distinct benefits of working in insurance is the extensive career options, and the flexibility to try different sections of companies. A recent graduate can begin with underwriting, then branch into marketing, risk management or any other career path she wishes to pursue.

See also: 10 Commandments for Young Professionals  

The insurance industry holds a long, rich history and is in nearly every part of the world. Therefore, there is a vast number of opportunities available in many areas of the field, adding to the stability factor. Ashley Jenkins, controller at Pioneer State Mutual Insurance, said, “Insurance companies are very stable compared with many other industries. As an example, my current insurance employer and prior insurance employer did not have to lay off any employees during the major financial crises in 2008 and 2011.” Additionally, according to the National Insurance Brokers Association, the median salaries in insurance are all well above the national average at around $30,000 a year. With more than 75,000 jobs opening up due to retirement, members of younger generations are being afforded regular growth opportunities, promoting a stable career path that doesn’t exist in many fields; today’s young employee tends to change jobs four times before they’re age 32.

2.It’s Rewarding

Although many jobs require employees to sit in cubicles, a career in insurance allows people to interact and cultivate relationships with other customers and coworkers. Koory Esquibel, TRAC risk analyst at Marsh, said, “One of my favorite parts about this industry, and the reason why it is so easy to recommend to students and new graduates, is the ability to form so many strong relationships with colleagues and business partners.” This is a pivotal time in insurance where improved employee and customer interaction is happening at all points of the workflow. Between mobile technologies to better interact with customers and analytics to improve speeds of underwriting and claims processes, the industry has never prioritized innovation so aggressively.

According to the survey conducted as a part of the Insurance Careers Movement, more than 92% of millennials working in insurance said that they are proud to work within the industry and want to promote the benefits and opportunities it provides. Their answers also revealed that millennials are already putting efforts into recruiting their peers, as 73% of respondents said that they have tried to convince at least one of their friends to choose a career in the risk management and insurance industry.

3.It’s Limitless

With the wave of digital innovation looming and new regulations and product offerings being created daily, the insurance industry is more dynamic than ever before. Employees at all levels, regardless of their areas of focus, are challenged to come up with creative solutions to tackle emerging problems. Yasmin Ahmed at Marsh said that she was “drawn to work in insurance because of the career mobility and succession planning.  Seasoned insurance professionals plan to retire within the next five years, providing more career advancement for young people.”

In fact, according to the Jacobson Group and Ward Group Insurance Labor Outlook Study, the insurance industry has added 100,000 new jobs in the past five years, and 66% of insurers expect to increase staff this year. The number of opportunities and intellectual challenge are perfect for millennials as, according to the My Path survey, new graduates are more interested in career advancement possibilities (25%) and learning opportunities (20%) when considering a job than older generations. Therefore, young professionals consider development within their careers more important than salary or benefits.

While the industry remained largely stagnant for years, the technological disruption is closing the experience gap and opening important roles for those interested in data science careers combined with creativity. In fact, Accenture’s fintech report found that investments in insurtech more than tripled from $800 million in 2014 to more than $2.6 billion in 2015. In addition to the heavy focus and investments in IT, startups like Lemonade are joining the industry with new technology-based business models. The entrance of startups has already brought recent changes as it motivated insurance giants to expand their focus. Some of the world’s largest insurers, such as Aviva, Axa and XL Catlin, announced their efforts to establish in-house venture capital funds and stated that they will be dedicating more than $1 billion investments in startups to spearhead digital transformation. This focus on new technology also creates more opportunities for the younger generation, as they can make contributions to their team regardless of the job titles.

See also: Can We Disrupt Ourselves?  

Most say that millennials are known for job-hopping. However, according to a recent Census study, once they’re satisfied, most will stay at the place of employment for three to six years. The bottom line is that carriers must not blame the generation for their lack of interest in insurance and instead work on raising awareness about the value the industry offers. Right now, a lack of talent is one of the biggest challenges for innovation growth. Insurers will have to make concerted efforts to follow through the recruitment process and provide robust training program to attract and retain young professionals. Through recognizing the underlying cause of the crisis and making an industry-wide endeavor, the insurance industry will be able to grow as a whole and successfully combat the talent shortage.

How Acquisitions Are Reshaping Landscape

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.

See also: Applied Analytics Are Key for Progress  

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.

See also: Why Data Analytics Are Like Interest  

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.

Insurance in the Age of the 12th Man

Brian Duperreault, chairman and CEO of Hamilton Insurance Group, told attendees at A.M. Best’s 23rd annual conference in Scottsdale, AZ, that the insurance industry has been an analog laggard rather than a digital leader, and that the clock is ticking on responding to the needs of a digital world. The address follows:

Thank you, Matt, and thanks for that wise review of the forces that have shaped the industry over the years.

Hearing that history line makes me feel pretty old. I lived through a lot of those highlights.

You’ve heard where we’ve been as an industry, and I’ve been asked to give you some thoughts on where we’re going.

The title I’m using is Insurance in the Age of the 12th Man. I’m sure most of you know what I’m referring to by the 12th man – any Seahawks fans with us today? – but in case you don’t:

The reference to a 12th man was first used more than 100 years ago to describe a really dedicated football fan.

It gained some significant traction at Texas A&M, and the Aggies still claim it’s theirs – in spite of what the Seahawks say.

The point is this: Fans can be so fanatically loyal to their team, it’s like having a 12th man on the field. Fans can shape the game and often affect a win or loss.

I’ve heard they can even make the earth move.

Last month, fans at a soccer game in the U.K. celebrated a last-minute goal so “enthusiastically” that it was recorded as a minor earthquake.

Why am I referring to the 12th man in a talk about the future of insurance?

Because we’re doing business in an age that’s profoundly different from anything we’ve ever experienced, and I believe it’s driven by what I’m going to call the 12th man phenomenon.

Virtually every industry has been redefined by an increasingly demanding customer, and it’s doing the same to ours. It’s the fan base – the collective 12th man – that’s driving how we develop, market and distribute our product.

And for many companies, there’s not much time left to figure out how to stay in the game.

PwC just released its annual CEO report and noted that access to digital technologies means that we’re more connected, better-informed and, in PwC’s words, “increasingly empowered and emboldened.”

This isn’t just a shift in market forces. The market has always been changing, and we’re used to that. This is something entirely different.

Given the digital world we’re living in and the impact of real-time communication through social media, the market’s voice is much more crystallized. There’s an immediacy, an intimacy that we’ve never had to deal with before. This is a voice that’s loud, clear and specific.

One of the best examples of the effect of the 12th man is Uber.

You probably know Uber’s story.

Its founders were so fed up with how hard it was to get a cab when they wanted one that they developed an app that puts a taxi at your fingertips. They didn’t just enhance the taxi industry; they blew the existing model apart.

They didn’t care what the regulations were. They just made it work – and it continues to work, because Uber gave customers what they wanted. AirBnB did the same thing to the hotel industry.

  • If you’re used to downloading apps to watch a movie, do your banking or order your groceries;
  • If you customize how, when and where you listen to the radio or watch TV;
  • And if this uncluttered, efficient, highly personalized way of living is what you’ve been used to since you could walk, then

There’s no reason that you’re going to expect anything less when you’re buying insurance.

Maybe this sounds like background noise to those of us who’ve been in the business for a while. After all, our industry has been resilient over the centuries. It’s been a safe bet for decent returns on investment.

But people my age see the world through an analog prism. This is our Achilles heel – because there’s a generation of 80 million Americans who see the world through a digital lens.

This is the workforce that Matt referred to earlier.

They’re going to be the buyers and sellers of our products. They’re going to run our companies. As the largest voting bloc in the U.S., they’re going to elect our governments.

They’re going to be a noisy and demanding 12th man. They already are.

This expectation for a streamlined and efficient buying experience is one of the main drivers behind my company, Hamilton Insurance Group. We believe that insurance has been an analog laggard, not a digital leader. We think we can do something about that.

As I give you thoughts on what will shape our industry over the next decade, I’m going to keep coming back to the 12th man.

I’ve seen lots of lists of future industry trends – some of them are mine – but I think it comes down to:

  • How to build a sustainable company
  • How to be smart about data and
  • How to strip waste out of our industry.

Let’s look at sustainability.

Traditionally, creating shareholder value in an insurance company has had two main components: investments and underwriting.

Right now, we’re between a rock and a hard place on both counts.

We’re in a prolonged zero-lower-bound period where interest rates dip in and out of negative territory.

In a traditional insurance company, there is no money to be made on the fixed instruments that most companies are required to invest in.

Having low-yield assets on a balance sheet for regulatory purposes virtually ensures little investment income.

What’s a CEO or CFO to do?

Well, you can shift your investment philosophy and invest in equities or alternative instruments with a higher yield. But you have to prove you can handle the additional risks that come with a different mix of asset allocations.

You also need an expert asset manager who’s well-versed in current regulations, as well as the commitment of your executives and board, to move to a riskier investment strategy.

You can bank on profitable underwriting – but in a market like this, that’s a grueling experience. Terms and conditions are tough, and margins on most lines of business are razor thin. You have to stay disciplined and resist the siren call to write discounted business. And it seems the days of large reserve takedowns are over.

You can look for M&A opportunities, which in many cases may delay the inevitable and add the stress and cost of effectively integrating what are likely to be legacy systems and cultures.

And while you’re grappling with investments, underwriting and M&A, you have to keep an eye on the rapidly changing digital world, which could render your company obsolete.

So what’s a sustainable business model look like in the age of the 12th man?

I think part of the answer lies in a flexible regulatory environment.

If you’re a company in Bermuda, where your regulator is the Bermuda Monetary Authority, you can establish an alternative investment strategy, as my company has done, in return for putting up additional capital, and work with a data-driven investment manager like Two Sigma, which manages Hamilton’s investments.

Almost a decade ago, the BMA embraced the Solvency II framework and then fought to get Solvency II Equivalency for Bermuda. Their persistence will be rewarded when official recognition of Bermuda’s equivalency takes legal effect on March 24.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that virtually the day after Bermuda’s Solvency II Equivalency was announced, XL Catlin announced it was moving its company registration to Bermuda. I think others will follow.

Bermuda has reacted well — better than most — in recognizing that flexibility is key to staying solvent.

In the States, things are more complicated. Deloitte released a report last month that said one of the biggest challenges for today’s insurance companies is trying to comply with new capital regulations that were originally designed for banks and don’t provide much flexibility in modifying an investment strategy.

It’s an accepted tenet that regulation works best when it addresses market failures and protects insurance buyers. But regulation can over-correct: In some cases, states have been too slow to rewrite laws, some of which have been in place for almost 100 years.

Today’s regulator has to confront the effect that the digital dynamic is having on both the insurer and the insured. This creates the need for a delicate balancing act: defining the right regulatory regime in a market that’s morphing in front of our eyes.

A word about rating agencies – sometimes referred to as de facto regulators:

Some agencies, like A.M. Best, have been forward-thinking in broadening the factors they consider when assigning ratings. I applaud Best’s for undertaking the survey on predictive analytics that Matt discussed. This is a meaningful contribution to the dialogue. We need more of that from our regulators and rating agencies.

Best’s has also done the work to understand alternative assets. For example, at Hamilton, Best’s spent time onsite with our investment manager, recognizing that these complex strategies require some effort to understand.

Having said that, I’d like to urge rating agencies to put more weight on the 12th man’s voice. How you’re accepted by the market matters. The quality of the relationships you establish, the panels you’re on, the submissions you receive – that all matters.

I said investments and underwriting were traditional aspects of building sustainability. M&A can play a role, and technology definitely does.

However, in this second decade of the 21st century, there’s so much more to running an insurance company.

In addition to a vocal, demanding 12th man, we’re living in a world of extreme political polarization, exchange-rate volatility and social instability.

And against that fragmented, disrupted backdrop, there’s the expectation that a company’s commitment to purpose should be as important as its commitment to profit.

Almost half of the 1,400 CEOs surveyed by PwC feel that, in five years, customers will put a premium on the way companies conduct themselves in global society.

Building a sustainable company is one of most complex issues we’re going to face over the next decade.

Now let’s look at data.

A few years ago, we were all talking about Big Data. It was THE buzz word.

Looking back, I think it’s safe to say that most of us didn’t know what we were talking about.

But living with the effect of disruptive technology, we’ve been on a steep learning curve. We’ve begun to wrap our heads around what we can do with the massive streams of data available to us.

EY just released a study on sensor data. It’s worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

As lead director at Tyco, I have to declare my interest in the subject. We’re spending a lot of time looking at how streaming data can help us develop better products.

We’re taking a holistic, data-driven look at behavior across multiple channels to give our clients the insight that helps them optimize their performance.

EY says top-performing insurance companies are already innovating with telematics, wearable technology and sensor data. EY lists the competitive advantages of being smart about data this way:

  • You can assess risk more precisely
  • You can design products faster
  • You can connect with customers more directly
  • You can revolutionize claims handling
  • And – you can maximize profitability because of better targeting

The implications for what sensor data can do for our industry are remarkable.

We’re talking about sensors on people, on cars, on ships and planes, in offices and homes, on GIS systems that provide data about climate – pretty much anything on the earth, or in the sea and sky.

Understanding this voluminous amount of data, finding correlations and eliminating bias can help us develop policies that are better-written, more comprehensive and more relevant.

Being smart about data also helps us come to grips with emerging risks, particularly a risk like cyber.

At Hamilton, we’re taking a cautious position on cyber. We’re not writing it as a class until we’ve identified an approach that gives us comfort. We haven’t found one yet, mainly because there’s been a tendency to underestimate the interconnectedness of cyber risk.

Too often, discussion about cyber revolves around hacking. But if you put any credence in what I just said about the impact of sensor data, you have to believe that there’s data-based risk in everything we do nowadays. If that’s true, what are the implications for cyber?

Getting back to sensor data –

Access to this type of intelligence has some significant implications for our distribution partners. The role of the broker and agent has been evolving for years, but data analytics is one of the greatest threats – or opportunities – for the partners who help us develop and distribute our products.

Who owns the data? Who interprets it? Does the insurer or the insured need anyone to do that any more?

Then there’s the duality of the role that brokers and agents play. They represent the insurer’s interest as well as the insured or reinsurer. Serving two masters is never easy. How well can you do that in an age of colliding data sets?

I think the answer to whether there’s still value in an intermediary is a qualified yes – IF the broker or agent brings a level of expertise and counsel that far surpasses what the carrier offers or the client can determine by himself. This means setting the gold standard for manipulating and interpreting data.

A last comment on data –

One of my own learnings over the last year or so is that if a company is going to embrace data and technology, it has to be a company-wide initiative. It can’t be done in silos.

I don’t think it works to have an incubation or innovation lab where a dedicated team is exploring a new risk management frontier and the rest of the organization is conducting business as usual. You’ll have constant dissonance between the analog and the digital.

At Hamilton, one of the advantages of being a start-up is that we’ve been able to make technology a focus of our strategic plan from the beginning.

Last year, we bought a Lloyd’s syndicate that we’ve completely rebuilt. The benefit of not having any legacy has allowed us to create an end-to-end, integrated system with all reports coming from one centralized data warehouse.

We’ve already demonstrated the value of this model. When Lloyd’s moved to require its syndicates to report pricing data for gross rather than net performance, a lot of managing agencies struggled. We didn’t.

Finally, I’ll look at the last issue I listed in my opening comments – getting rid of the waste in our industry.

By waste, I mean the massive cost of doing business. I’ve been beating this drum since Hamilton was established a couple of years ago, and I’ll keep at it because, if anything puts our industry at risk, it’s the inefficient way we acquire business.

Thirty to 40% of every premium dollar goes to acquisition and managing the business. At Lloyd’s, it’s even higher, largely because analog data-gathering weighs on the market like an albatross.

The quest to make buying insurance easier and more efficient through data analytics is the DNA of our U.S. operations, where our focus is small commercial business.

We want to remove the pain of the rate/quote/bind experience and sharpen the underwriting. We’re blessed with employees who believe in our mission and who have moved mountains to make it real.

They’ve spent the last year stripping unnecessary questions from the forms used in the acquisition process. We know a lot of that data suffers from human bias or error, and much of it is available from public sources that are more reliable.  We use data that comes from dozens of different sources as part of our risk scoring and underwriting process.

Our long-term goal at Hamilton USA is to get the questions that an agent or broker asks an insured down to two: name and address. Smart data analytics, as well as more informed underwriting, will do the rest.

We’ve also created streamlined portals for quotes and are just weeks away from launching mobile-based technology that rates, quotes and binds business owners policies.

The small commercial segment that we’re working in has an average policy size of under $25,000. This is business with small margins and high transactions. Efficiency is critical if you want to make any money.

And there’s ample room for doing just that. In the U.S., this is a $60 billion market. It’s almost $90 billion when specialty risks are included.

You can see why speed to market can make a huge difference in profitability.

Speed to market doesn’t mean we’re cutting out the middleman.

There’s plenty of room at the table for brokers, agents and MGAs – as long as they want to align their systems and practices with our cutting-edge analytics.

We’re working with partners who are as excited as we are about the potential that data analytics represents. We’re being approached by many others who are interested in taking this journey together with Hamilton.

And there’s a generational component to all of this. Some older clients want to do business with a broker or an agent. It’s a relationship they recognize and feel comfortable with.

But remember that 12th man. There are 80 million of them for whom a middleman just gets in the way.

In closing –

I know that Matt was a keynote speaker at a conference earlier this month organized by Valen Analytics. I understand there was lots of good discussion and some fascinating stats underscoring the imperative to embrace data analytics.

Apparently, 82% of companies surveyed last year by Valen say that underwriters are resisting analytics. 30% worry about a loss of jobs. 30% don’t trust the data.

77% of underwriters and actuaries argue about pricing. The No. 1 reason? Underwriters dismiss data in favor of their own judgment.

While we continue to resist change, venture capital companies are looking at our industry and seeing dollar signs.

In 2015, VCs invested $2.65 billion in start-up insurance companies like Oscar, Gusto and PolicyGenius. Ten years ago, that figure was $85 million.

So the clock is ticking. There’s not a lot of time left to figure out how to build sustainable companies, be smart about data and be more efficient.

Above all else, we need to get over our inherent resistance to change. If insurance as we’ve known it was an ecosystem, large sections of it would be on the endangered species list.

But I’m an eternal optimist. I know we have bold people working in insurance and reinsurance. I know a lot of us get what needs to be done.

So let’s just do it – before that 12th man comes down from the bleachers and does it for us.

3 Key Steps for Predictive Analytics

The steady drumbeat about the dire need for data and predictive analytics integration has been there for several years now. Slowly, many carriers have started to wake up to the fact that predictive analytics for underwriting is here to stay. According to Valen Analytics’ 2015 Summit Survey, 45% of insurers who use analytics have started within the past two years, and, of those that don’t currently implement analytics, 56% recognize the urgency and plan to do so within a year. Although it used to be a competitive advantage in the sense that few were using predictive analytics, it can now be viewed as table stakes to protect your business from competitors.

The real competitive advantage, however, now comes from how you implement predictive analytics within your underwriting team and focus its potential on strategic business issues. New competitors and disruptors like Google won’t politely wait around for insurers to innovate. The window to play catch-up with the rest of tech-driven businesses is getting narrower every day, and it’s either do or die for the traditional insurance carrier.

All of this buzz about data and predictive analytics and its importance can be deafening in many ways. The most important starting point continues to center on where to get started. The most pertinent question is: What exactly are you trying to solve?

Using analytics because everyone is doing it will get you nowhere fast. You need to solve important, tangible business problems with data-driven and analytic strategies. Which analytic approach is best, and how is it possible to evaluate the effectiveness? Many insurers grapple with these questions, and it’s high time the issue is addressed head-on with tangible steps that apply to any insurer with any business problem. There are three key steps to follow.

First Step: You need senior-level commitment.

You consume data to gain insights that will solve particular problems and achieve specific objectives. Once you define the problem to solve, make sure that all the relevant stakeholders understand the business goals from the beginning and that you have secured executive commitment/sponsorship.

Next, get agreement up front on the metrics to measure success. Valen’s recent survey showed that loss ratio was the No. 1 one issue for underwriting analytics. Whether it’s loss ratio, pricing competitiveness, premium growth or something else, create a baseline so you can show before and after results with your analytics project.

Remember to start small and build on early wins; don’t boil the ocean right out of the gate. Pick a portion of your policies or a test group of underwriters and run a limited pilot project. That’s the best way to get something started sooner than later, prove you have the right process in place and scale as you see success.

Finally, consider your risk appetite for any particular initiative. What are the assumptions and sensitivities in your predictive model, and how will those affect projected results? Don’t forget to think through how to integrate the model within your existing workflow.

Second Step: Gain organizational buy-in.

It’s important to ask yourself: If you lead, will they follow? Data analytics can only be successful if developed and deployed in the right environment. You have to retool your people so that underwriters don’t feel that data analytics are a threat to their expertise, or actuaries to their tried-and-true pricing models.

Given the choice between leading a large-scale change management initiative and getting a root canal, you may be picking up the phone to call the dentist right now. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Following a thoughtful and straightforward process that involves all stakeholders early goes a long way. Make sure to prepare the following:

  • A solid business case
  • Plan for cultural adoption
  • Clear, straightforward processes
  • A way to be transparent and share results (both good and bad)
  • Training and tech support
  • Ways to adjust – be open to feedback, evaluate it objectively and make necessary changes.

Third Step: Assess your organization’s capabilities and resources.

A predictive analytics engagement is done in-house or by a consultant or built and hosted by a modeling firm. Regardless of whether the data analytics project will be internally or externally developed, your assessment should be equally rigorous.

Data considerations. Do you have adequate data in-house to build a robust predictive model? If not, which external data sources will help you fill in the gaps?

Modeling best practices. Whether internal or external, do you have a solid approach to data custody, data partitioning, model validation and choosing the right type of model for your specific application?

IT resources. Ensure that scope is accurately defined and know when you will be able to implement the model. If you are swamped by an IT backlog of 18-24-plus months, you will lose competitive ground.

Reporting. If it can be measured, it can be managed. Reporting should include success metrics easily available to all stakeholders, along with real-time insights so that your underwriters can make changes to improve risk selection and pricing decisions.

Boiling this down, what’s critical is that you align a data analytics initiative to a strategic business priority. Once you do that, it will be far easier to garner the time and attention required across the organization. Remember, incorporating predictive analytics isn’t just about technology. Success is heavily dependent on people and process.

Make sure your first steps are doable and measurable; you can’t change an entire organization or even one department overnight. Define a small pilot project, test and learn and create early wins to gain momentum by involving all the relevant stakeholders along the way and find internal champions to share your progress.

Recognize that whether you are building a data analytics solution internally, hiring a solution provider or doing some of both, there are substantial costs involved. Having objective criteria to evaluate your options will help you make the right decisions and arm you with the necessary data to justify the investment down the road.