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The digital business landscape is driven by data. However, amidst the risk of information overload, decision-makers need to embrace data analytics to get the competitive edge they need.
With global mobile phone users expected to surpass five billion by the middle of this year, people are generating data at a phenomenal rate. This is putting companies under pressure to not only provide mobile-friendly access points to customers, but also try and derive value from the influx of data they are getting.

Traditionally, making sense of data was left to business intelligence (BI) solutions. And while these are still invaluable, real-time analytics have become the phrase de jour of the technology landscape over the past 18 months especially for those in information rich industries such as insurance.

Companies are exposed to vast inflows of data daily. But on its own, data is a cost item. To get the competitive advantage, requires analytics often done by a professional. In fact, data scientists are fast becoming some of the most sought-after people in this digital environment.

Another important aspect of analysis to consider is the kind of data being used. A significant amount of time and money can be wasted if the data set is not good or contains unnecessary information. Using data that supports business objectives, mean insurers can leverage their strategies to innovate, capture value, and sustain a competitive advantage.

The real value lies in prescriptive analytics that attempts to identify what the insurer should do based on the result of the descriptive (past) and predictive (future) analytics.
 
Customers are becoming more demanding and want to be treated as individuals. With the use of analytics, insurers can build a portrait of each individual further enabling them to make better decisions based on the data.

Analytics creates a comprehensive roadmap for managing the entire lifecycle of the customer - from acquisition to lapse or maturity. Information such as when a person is likely to surrender a product, whether they may take out a policy loan, and how they pay premiums is all available through the adoption of analytics.

If done correctly, analytics should solve a problem. It should provide the insurer with the insights required to make more effective decisions and improve customer satisfaction. This, ultimately, will result in increased product sales and more insightful marketing.

Kelly Preston is the data analytics manager at SilverBridge.

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