We sat down with Tom DiMarco, Insurance Software Solutions Industry Head & Co-Founder SNL iPartners solution. With over 25 years of IT experience, including software development and full project lifecycle consulting, Tom has successfully implemented solutions in a variety of industries including insurance and financial services.
Q: Why is it so crucial for an insurer to have a Business Intelligence (BI) solution?
A: Almost 60% of BI purchases are not actually controlled by the business; they’re controlled by IT. Considering the importance of data to an organization, it's important to remember that business intelligence is part of a corporate business strategy, not a one-and-done IT project. It affects every level of the organization: executives, product managers, actuaries, finance and business development professionals, who all need to have the ability to make informed decisions quickly.No matter where you are in your organization, two constants hold true:
- Your customers and agents are core to your business
- Every decision you make has the ability to impact your business
Q: What do insurance executives need to help them make timely decisions?
A:Monthly reports, once the mainstay for making executive decisions, don't offer the timely insight necessary to apply immediate improvements to claims processes or respond to ever-changing market conditions.
To get a better handle on business intelligence, you’ll need to ensure that several key elements are in place:
- Correct and clean internal data you can count on. That means finding or "mining" the gold buried in policy, claims and billing core systems.
- You need reliable external data so results are not statistically skewed.
- Data that answers your big picture questions, yet allows for digging into the details as necessary.
- Easy-to-understand metrics that affect your company's top and bottom line.
- Relevant information available at your fingertips.
While this might sound overwhelming, reaching these goals and answering these questions is quite possible. Next-generation business intelligence capabilities that provide agile, user-friendly and timely data are available now.Ask yourself, "What opportunities are we missing" by not having the ability to make timely decisions? To take advantage of this technology, start by jotting down the questions you need answered to make optimal company decisions. Then determine what kind of data you need to easily get your questions answered.
Q: What are the most important steps to a BI-driven strategy?
A: Insurance executives need to remember that business intelligence should be a strategy without an end date. It should be an ongoing priority that can evolve over time. To this end, it’s critical to ensure that what you're measuring always connects back to your corporate initiatives.
To do this, you need to:
- Assemble a cross-functional team representing each core business unit
- Prioritize the business problems that need to be solved
- Define exactly what metrics are needed to track performance
- Focus on small, repeatable wins
Taking this approach addresses both the enterprise and business unit-level needs. By putting the business in the driver's seat, you are building your BI strategy around your business, not the other way around.
Q: What are specific data considerations?
A:Concerning data, everyone knows the expression "garbage in, garbage out" applies. However, competitive insurance professionals are realistic. They know that having clean and reliable data is often a work in progress. Instead of waiting for perfection, they employ information that is still effective, even though that data may have limitations.
Your business intelligence solution also should be able to identify data discrepancies prior to populating your data warehouse. This will reinforce consistency and the governance of data definitions and calculations.
Once these steps are in place, you should be able to rely on the key metrics that positively affect your agents and customers.
In sum, the most successful Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance professionals are already determining the most effective data and metrics for confident decision making. By embracing this emerging best practice, they are enjoying greater efficiencies and profitability.
Tom DiMarco is the Industry Head for the Insurance Software Solutions group and co-founder for SNL iPartners. The SNL iPartners solution was the first cloud based, SaaS BI solution to the P&C Insurance industry launched in 2003. In addition to being the original chief architect of the SNL iPartners solution, Tom is responsible for the product roadmap which includes the underlying P&C insurance data model design, ETL integration and the front-end user interface.
With over 25 years of IT experience, including 20 years of delivering successful data warehousing and BI solutions, software development and full project lifecycle consulting – Tom has successfully implemented BI solutions in a variety of industries including Insurance, Health Care and Financial Services.
Prior to SNL iPartners, Tom spent 12 years as a senior manager for a leading business intelligence and performance management consulting company.