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Modernising BI for customer analytics and claims analytics

By Jonathan Silverman, Insurance Industry Solutions Director on February 17, 2016

Filed under Insurance

If insurance companies can provide more effective self-help BI that is easier to access, they can focus on profitable lines and profitable customers; better anticipate and manage their claims environments; and respond more quickly to opportunities and sources of risk. In order to achieve this, many insurers need to overcome the challenges presented by older legacy systems that make it difficult to access and visualise their data and business logic. A modern BI capability can sit on top of those legacy systems and be used to free up data and make it more readily accessible, giving IT control of the data while securely federating out access to the data to the end business users.

Microsoft recently announced the public preview of SQL Server 2016, which is now available for download. This is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history, with new capabilities that will have a real impact in the insurance industry.

SQL Server 2016 enables real-time operational analytics, rich visualisations on mobile devices, built-in advanced analytics, new advanced security technology, and new hybrid cloud scenarios. Key capabilities for insurers include Always Encrypted, which protects data at rest and in motion, and enhancements to our in-memory technologies for real-time analytics on top of breakthrough transactional performance and new in-database analytics with R integration.

For many insurance companies, the same challenges that legacy systems present in terms of BI also affect their core systems. Insurers running older policy administration systems often do not have consistent views of their customers, are challenged when introducing or supporting new channels, and are slow to develop and deliver new products to market. Older claims systems may lead to inefficient claims processing and high claims processing expenses, unanticipated claims exposures and high loss ratios, and poor customer experiences during the claim that lead to customer churn.

More modern core systems can be introduced through core system modernisation programmes – programmes that Microsoft can support through platform modernisation programmes and partners, or through recommending new, modern, partner-provided core systems. Large-scale legacy modernisation programmes can be high-risk and multi-year in length and, more often, new and modern core systems are introduced as insurance companies introduce new products or new lines of business.

Cloud technologies are increasingly important in enabling the capacity today’s insurance companies need for secure, powerful BI. We recently announced Azure Data Lake, a new data repository for big data analytics workloads. Data Lake gives developers a single environment to store all of their structured and semi-structured data in its native format, without having to worry about storage and capacity limitations.

Data Lake is compatible with the Hadoop File System, so it will integrate well with standard Hadoop big data tools like Spark, Storm and Kafka, as well as services from Hortonworks, Cloudera and Azure HDInsight. Our Azure stack can also help to improve these situations, and we can help carriers put in place a private, hybrid or public cloud capability.

As the volume of available data increases and the need to turn that data in to insight that supports the business intensifies, insurers should consider building their cloud skill sets now. Those that do so can work in their own data centre on the same tools, identify capabilities for moving data and workloads to the hybrid and public clouds, and ready their organisations for those moves.

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