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Author's profile photo patricia saporito

SAPPOV: Three ways to give your analytics a boost

Business intelligence is key to a successful insurance operation, but how do you prioritize what you need?  There’s more to analytics than architecture. Make sure your Business Intelligence strategy is business-driven!


The face of global insurance is always changing, but fundamentally – as ever – we work at the cutting edge of analytics. The dirty dark secret is that however flashy your dashboard might be, someone always has to help you get the data. In building a data warehouse you do a lot of heavy lifting, but the data tends to flow straight through – you don’t have anything concrete to show for it except other people’s results, and they can never get their data quick enough.

So how can you get more from analytics and take them beyond reporting? The answer is to have a business-driven, Business Intelligence (BI) strategy. But how do you prioritize what data you need? After all, insurers aren’t product companies, they are data companies, with information contained in silos kept in various departments – each with different needs and priorities.

Ideally, in defining your target market, your sales force, marketing strategy and underwriting guidelines should all be aligned before you even sell a policy. Then once it’s sold, any incoming claims have to be very carefully monitored to see if a standard policy’s terms or conditions need modifying, whether the pricing is correct and so on.

The thing is, while it seems obvious, many insurers still work in silos. Their marketing teams might define incredible cross- and up-selling programs, their underwriting teams could define incredibly granular risk pools and pricing, and their sales teams might target and execute on marketing programs like aces, but without an integrated strategy that shares data, especially when claims come in, opportunities are lost and profitability suffers.

A complete analytics strategy overhaul is neither desirable or practical but companies have three opportunities for best practice in their analytics strategy, depending on whether they want to crawl, walk or run:


The first step is a BI Strategy business discovery self-assessment, which is a way of diagnosing what their Business Intelligence strategy looks like (try ours here) and aligning it across all of the business. It asks users what their pains are and how severe, and is used to answer the crucial question of how great the value of a capability is to the business.


If they need more handholding, we recommend a facilitated workshop that brings in IT – often for the first time along side the business – to discuss BI Strategy best practices, assess their capabilities and develop priorities to close inevitable gaps, getting them to look right across all business areas. SAP offers a facilitated workshop free of charge.


The most comprehensive approach, which brings the fastest change, involves annual workshops and analytics maturity assessments across the business. The IT department should also do a maturity assessment, comparing themselves to their peers not just in insurance but in other industries such as banking or retail.

Best of all is to set up a Business Intelligence competency center that focuses on culture and data governance. Ultimately it comes down to people and processes: defining your strategy and communicating it in such a way that everyone understands it and can get on board.


To learn more about we can help you with your business challenges please have a look at SAP’s Solution Explorer for the Insurance Industry.

What do you think about the issues discussed here? Continue the conversation in the comments below and on Twitter @SAPforInsurance, or contact me directly @PatSaporito.

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