Priorities for mid-size insurers w/ BI and data warehousing

As insurers try to pull out of the doldrums of 2009, data warehousing and business intelligence (BI) initiatives are becoming priorities.  Many carriers are initiating projects around BI with one of two primary goals in mind:

·         Cost savings (reduce losses, price efficiently, reduce expense leakage, fraud detection, etc.)

·         Growth (both existing and new markets and/or channels, new products, etc.)

I've worked with many carriers over the past several months and while most have an overarching business objective (or questions without answers) in mind for initiating a BI project, they often struggle with where to start.  Those that are making the decision to move forward with a project also want to ensure that they can get some type of quick win with whatever solution or methodology they choose. 

This is especially true for mid-size carriers (100M - 500M NWP).  Insurers in this premium range typically don't have the IT staff to build and maintain an entire BI infrastructure without some type of boxed product.  Whether they need an industry specific data model, pre-built ETL, canned reports or all of the above, the key is to understand how much you as the carrier can build and maintain yourself.

For carriers that don't have the expertise in house, they can utilize partners, industry groups (TDWI) and even vendors (such as Oracle) to help them understand the nuances of insurance-specific warehousing.  There are distinct needs that insurance companies have over almost every other type of business out there, therefore the need to get insurance-specific help is immense. 

Lastly, carriers need to get their goals, budget and architecture expectations in line when they begin to look into specific solutions.  This will help the carrier communicate what they are looking for and how they need to be structured to be successful in their environment. 

In summary, carriers need to identify what they can handle in house.  Once this is determined, the decision to hire a consultancy or buy a product to fill the gaps can be made.  Often, it will be a combination of the two. 

For more information on the value of business intelligence to insurers, please register for the upcoming webcast, The Decisive Edge: Improving Decision Making in the Insurance Enterprise scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 4.

Jason McDonald is a product manager at Oracle Insurance, responsible for insurance-specific BI products.





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