The Connected Business of Insurance
February 25, 2014
Agencies and brokerages – large and small – are interested in the potential of business intelligence (BI) capabilities. Some have already implemented BI tools and are leveraging them to make better decisions, while others are in the investigation phase.
Business intelligence describes a class of automated tools that help to analyze and visualize information about your business so that you can make more informed decisions. Traditional or basic reporting is considered:
- Done at periodic intervals
- Descriptive (i.e., it tells what has happened)
True BI ventures into the here and now, allowing a view into current results and enabling interactive analysis and ad hoc queries to uncover trends and investigate why certain things might be happening.
Agencies are already using BI tools to:
- Gain more insights into sales and premium trends
- Assess the profitability of the business they write
- Track the operational metrics of an agency or brokerage
An SMA research survey of 202 agents and brokers revealed that about one-third of agencies are actively leveraging BI, while the other two-thirds have limited or even no usage of these tools. But there is an undeniable trend toward greater usage of BI as more and more agencies recognize the high business value of these capabilities.
The most logical questions, then, are how do you get started – or for those agencies with limited usage – how do you accelerate your BI program?
The best approach for most agencies is to link BI capabilities to the agency management system (AMS). The AMS is the hub of operations and has access to the data needed for the analysis.
Smaller agencies probably want to look at a solution that is packaged and has standard capabilities so that you don’t have to start from scratch to define what metrics you want to look at, how to visually display them, or how to interact to drill down for more detail.
Larger agencies can still benefit from that approach, but you may also want to consider designating a person to become the BI expert. Large agencies and brokerages may want to do more BI customization and even explore some of the more advanced analytics capabilities.
But even before you consider the technology approach, your first step should be to map out what you want to know about your business, how frequently you need to do the analysis, and how you want to view the information. Understanding the business value you hope to gain and the business capabilities you need will help to position you to have informed discussions with solution providers about BI options and approaches.
How is your agency using business intelligence today? Share your comments.
Mark Breading, a Partner at SMA, is the one to turn to for provocative thought leadership concerning insurance industry challenges, opportunities, and technology options. He has exceptional knowledge and experience in all aspects of Customer Centricity – CCM, CRM, customer insights, ECM, data and analytics, and more. Both insurers and IT solution providers look to Mark for everything from future vision to strategic key account marketing. Follow Mark on Twitter @BreadingSMA