Data – The key to digitalisation

I interviewed Kali Bagary, CEO, The Data Company, after his presentation at COVER’s  Innovation Journey webinar

Tony: The Data Company is doing a lot of work with data in the intermediary space, which has become an essential component of how brokers do their business, although it’s not really been exploited by brokers.  Can we get your opinion on whether or not brokers or intermediaries are getting value from their data at the moment?

Kali: I see intermediaries almost in two categories. One I would say, are the larger intermediaries, and I think they probably are getting value from the data. They have the organization, the funding, the individuals and the skills within the organization to set up data models and leverage from the data. I think where intermediaries are not getting value, are the SMEs where the size of those organizations are limited. Some of them have grown through smaller mergers and acquisitions and I don’t believe they’re getting value from data, certainly based on some of the discussions we’re having.

Tony: So what are the main issues why they are not getting the needed value from that data?

Kali: As I mentioned ,with some of the smaller and the medium enterprises, they’ve grown through mergers and acquisitions, so their organizations are sitting on different systems. The quality of the data varies from line of business through to the organizations that they’ve aquired. Some of their data is structured and some of it is unstructured. So just getting access to that data in the first place is not easy for those organizations. With the added complexity now around COVID-19, I think a lot of those brokers are now working from home. The number of face to face interactions are reducing so, getting access to that data from disparate systems in different locations, is a big challenge. 

Secondly, I think within that space, sometimes the completeness and the accuracy of that data is lacking. And, when we’re out there in a sales mode, you’re eager to promote and sell a product so the administration tends to be a job that you take on when you go back to the office, etc. So some of those records, maybe is not as accurate as it can be or maybe haven’t been updated so frequently. So I think those are some of the challenges that they have. In the intermediary space, getting the 360 view of a client is also still a challenge, because short term insurance, compared to long term investments for example, maybe do not have all the data pulled together. Furthermore, you might not be able to reconcile an individual due to the data being from different systems.

Tony: In the webinar we did on the 18th of February, you unpacked how intermediaries can get that value. Please give us your thoughts on how could they can potentially use their data to innovate.

Kali: Because there’s a great opportunity to innovate. We see some of the new Insurtechs coming in with technology, using a data driven approach to focus very much on the products that they’re offering, the time and place when they’re promoting those products, the channels they’re using to promote those, such as social media. The secret is in looking at all of those technology advantages and the data you can optimize. The next thing is around user experience, making sure that you’ve got the right platforms for the right products. Most people would be comfortable buying a travel policy on a mobile app, but I don’t think the same when buying an investment policy, it’s a whole different experience, different data and then making sure you’re using the right technologies to support the products that you’re trying to promote. The other issue is looking at really innovating around pricing and underwriting. There’s a lot more now pay as you go type insurance as opposed to taking out an annual insurance policy. So it’s being able to innovate and for example offer usage based insurance and other similar opportunities.

Tony: Lastly, for intermediaries, as a starting point, what is the base they need as an essential to build from.

Kali: I think the intermediaries need to be supported by organizations like the Transunion, the Insurance Crime Bureau and the FIA, where, you know, they’ve all got access to industry wide data that they could provide. Somehow, they all need to make that data available at an affordable price. Because some of the smaller intermediates would like to use that data. I would like to use enrichment services, but the intermediary must get access to that data and then processing the data at a cost per transaction. So, if somehow, those bodies could come together to create an offering for the industry where that data can be anonymized and used as a benchmark, I think that would be very, very valuable.

I also think organizations need to do a gap analysis, initially, to look at what data they’ve got, what products are selling, what target segment they’re going for, and then engage with companies like the Data Company who can help them build their strategy based on where they are today and where they want to go to. That needs to be done on an incremental basis, not necessarily a big bang. So start picking small manageable chunks, delivering value to the business and then moving on to the next one.

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