Insurance Innovation Leadership and Learning An Industry Transforming a Data Enterprise with a Promise to Pay

Barbara Bufkin, Executive Head of Business Development, SVP and Tamer Soliman, VP Data Analytics
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Barbara Bufkin, Executive Head of Business Development, SVP

Barbara Bufkin, Executive Head of Business Development, SVP

Organizations are investing heavily in digital technology to capture data, but often struggle to derive value from the harvest. Analyzing information with a human lens is where true business advantage lies. Someone who is fully aware of the business objectives in the context of culture and leadership will inspire the right line of questioning, leading to better answers and producing solutions that are fit for purpose.

Successful transformation depends on leaders at every level enthusiastically driving the analytics agenda—even encouraging people in non-leadership positions to act as analytics advocates to their peers. Human judgment supported by data is what creates value from big data analytics—and human resistance could see valuable insights ignored. The focus of your digital capability should begin with humans, internal and external, while always having your customer at the forefront.

The transformational potential created by big data and analytics is significant. Data and analytics will allow us to measure what matters across a complex, connected ecosystem, an especially important capability when “what matters most” is our promise to our customers. By supporting the customer behind the best consumer brands in the world with a variety of lifestyle-oriented, specialty products and services, our company has a unique perspective in the marketplace. We cannot be complacent when barriers to entry are continually giving way to new technologies and efficiencies. Analytics must deliver real business value in order to improve customer experience, operational excellence, and new product development.

While big data and analytics may now be considered table stakes, we cannot forget the human element. After all, insurance is a business that, at its core, is about people. Protecting people and assets, offering peace of mind and acting as problem-solvers when things go wrong—this is what insurance is all about. Understanding data isn’t just about numbers and systems. It’s about making good business decisions, tapping into insights that will help us better serve our customer, improve operations, re-think financial models, enhance supply chains and create more business opportunities. Data allows us to create a culture of constant curiosity that lends itself to continual improvement and a willingness to take measured risk. It’s why we’re thinking big for analytics capabilities—and we hope you are too. Open Source data and Crowdsourcing enable the creativity of many and this is the way of the future.Tamer Soliman, VP Data Analytics

To ensure success, a company must make important strides to lay the groundwork for embedding analytics into their organization. We showcase the value analytics can bring to our customers, business decisions and operations. Across the organization, we are fundamentally changing how we use data. As more data becomes available, we must be able to quantify it and leverage agile approaches to drive rapid, demonstrable progress. A scrum is no longer only on a rugby field - it’s a way to work. With that, we are instituting the discipline to ensure that we’re focused on measuring what matters and linking these metrics to the key drivers of our enterprise.

Building an enterprise scale analytic capability is a significant undertaking. Yet the effort— when doneproperly—will yield significant enterprise level results. By investing in technologies that can store and process massive volumes of structured and unstructured data (i.e. chats, comments, reviews), we are able to provide clear, actionable information in support of high-value client engagements and strategic imperatives. However, the most critical component of the analytics capability is talent and how we retain, engage, and attract talent is critical to our success.

To match the pace of change, insurance companies are being tested to think differently and look for new skills to match the evolving industry needs. This requires diversity of talent, meaning diversity of thought, background, perspective, and knowledge. The insurance industry workforce should reflect the same depth in diversity as the customers we serve.

  Analytics must deliver real business value in order to improve customer experience, operational excellence, and new product development  

To deliver on the potential of analytics and define the future of insurance, the human element remains critical. We need people with deep functional skills and industry context – people who understand how to mine our vast data sources for insights that range from reporting to advanced machine learning (ML)techniques. We also need a cognitively diverse workforce that possesses the soft skills of a high emotional quotient and can stretch and adapt to nuanced needs. Work from away(WFA) is a trust-based culture to encourage this diverse work force, as work is not where you go but rather what you do.

While finding top talent is always a challenge, we are working closely with our talent acquisition teams and HR partners to identify and onboard promising talent from local universities through a global internship program. Also, we have launched a development program for our existing talent within the organization to equip them with the latest knowledge and skillsets related to data analytics tools and techniques.

The insurance industry is a “give back” culture where characteristically supporting social causes and wellness are foundational. Insurance claims adjusters are often with first responders at the time of a natural disaster to help restore and protect. These social values are important in recruiting millennial talent. We are building the talent we need for the future by building a culture of engagement, growth, and outperformance. Algorithms are all well and good, but people are still at the heart of insurance.

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