Digitization in insurance: Step speed is also speed


Are you looking for an insurance policy online? Want access 24/7? Ever wondered why many insurance giants are not yet fully digital?

Digitization is not yet common among traditional insurance companies, although it has already happened in other industries and in insurance technology (InsurTech) companies. This is perhaps surprising, because in some ways, the perfect conditions exist: large amounts of data, many processes and products, and customers who are both online and offline. But something is still frightening insurers. Is it the amount of change that will be required? Are they not really agile enough? Maybe the employees are not "digital ready", or the infrastructure is not suitable?

What change leaders in insurance say about digitization?

Over the spring, I had the opportunity to discuss this matter with change leaders in one of the biggest insurance companies in Europe. I was particularly interested in how the first steps towards digitization were made, and what the next might be. My respondents have not been named as the discussion was on condition of anonymity.

Where did you start with your digitization work?

We started with visualization software, to find out how our online visitors behaved, and how this affected our insurance business. We decided that we really needed to modernize our online KPI reporting, and that took us further down the road towards digitization.

Would it be fair to say that online business has also gained in significance for insurance?

It has a central place in our strategy. Our previous reporting was associated with high manual effort. Reports took a long time, and a lot of effort, to be created and distributed. Not only was it very resource-intensive, but it was also very static and the results were fairly superficial, so it made sense to automate the creation process.

What was the most important thing about the implementation?

There were essentially three things. One was the automation of data management, because we wanted to avoid errors and be more efficient with our resources. Second, we wanted all relevant data sources to be linked directly to the new reporting tool, to enable us to answer all relevant questions. And finally, we wanted dynamic reports, to react flexibly to new requirements. Effectively, we have set up self-service reporting.

The insurance ecosystem is both excited about the potential of AI in insurance, and concerned about how far the disruption will go. Read this report by SAS insurance experts on the scale of change ahead.


Did this change the requirements for employees?

Yes, because they needed to understand data sources, both technically and professionally. And of course they needed a certain amount of imagination to help them explore what is possible with the tools available. It is also helpful to have a certain amount of empathy with the person for whom the report is created. After all, you need the worm to attract the fish and not the angler!

What role did the infrastructure play?

It was an advantage for us that we were able to build the reporting on a well-functioning and established infrastructure base. It would have been much more difficult if we had had to solve integration questions too. We did not have to deal with the tool issue because we could rely on a powerful tool that had already been introduced. Any discussion about the budget would probably have been rather a problem for the rapid progress of the project.

Was the prototype fast?

Yes, we were able to quickly build a working prototype with real data. This helped us to learn how to deal with the tool and ensure that those receiving reports were doing the same.

How is your new system working now internally?

It is very successful, because it has replaced various Excel reports and shows all the data for the whole group, including subsidiaries, together in the same format for the first time. Various executives and project employees have given themselves access to the tool and have even got involved in further development work. It’s been really positive.

How has the way that you work with data changed through dynamic reporting?

The presentation of the data is much more appealing, and there has also been an increase in the information content. Many of the people involved in the project are therefore more intensively engaged with the data and ask more questions. This is a huge improvement. The processes have also become more agile, and the creation and modification of reports has become much more dynamic. Individual requests can now be answered very quickly.

And how do you see this continuing?

For both our parent company and its subsidiaries, the reporting landscape is gradually being modernized. Competencies are being expanded in data management and report building. As we develop the content further, we are working closely with subject matter experts and those responsible.

So no more "just reporting", but real analyses?

Yes, we believe that we are much more analytically supportive. We are also actively developing online processes to work better for the business.

Are there other departments that have jumped on the bandwagon now?

Definitely! Within the company, several departments are now revising their reporting or adding new reports.

Join us in Analytics Experience 2017 to hear more about how to proceed with digitization. As an analytics change agent, you can be the catalyst to boost growth, capture markets and spur digital transformation.

This post has also been published in German with a title Digitalisierung bei Versicherungen: Schritttempo ist auch Geschwindigkeit

About Author

Michael Rabin

Michael Rabin assists insurance companys on their way towards digitalization, big data analytics and IoT. Prior to this, he worked as a technical account manager in this segment. He began his career with a German insurer (including businesscontrolling of property / casualty insurance and strategic bankassurance) and is therefore familiar in the field of classic insurance. Michael Rabin unterstützt Sie als SAS Account Advisor für Versicherungsunternehmen auf ihrem Weg in Richtung Digitalisierung, Big Data Analytics und künstlicher Intelligenz. Zuvor war er als Technical Account Manager in diesem Segment tätig. Seine Laufbahn begann er bei einem deutschen Versicherer (u.a. in der Geschäftssteuerung Schaden-/Unfallversicherung und im strategischen Bankenvertrieb) und ist daher auch im Bereich der klassischen Versicherungsthemen zuhause.

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