Two tips: understanding “big data” and how it can grow your business

Two tips: understanding “big data” and how it can grow your business | Insurance Business

Two tips: understanding “big data” and how it can grow your business
“Big Data” is a term you hear a lot – but how do you access it, and how can you use it to leapfrog your sales competition?

BJ Schaknowski, SVP and chief sales and marketing officer at insurance software service provider Vertafore, told Insurance Business what he thought needed to happen for agencies to get ahead of their competitors.

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“The agencies and carriers who jump on this now will have the first-mover benefit, I think, for the next 12-24 months while everybody else tries to catch up,” he said.

“Everyone, for a long time, has been talking about data and analytics and saying, promising, it’s the next big thing. But the reality is that now you’re beginning to see some of the carriers, certainly, but also some of the bigger brokerages and agencies, begin to discern and separate some of the insights from the data to actually change their workflows.

“You’re now actually looking at some of the largest agencies in the world and in the country better understand the value of a customer, better understand the value of their relationship with certain carriers, and now begin to negotiate different rates based upon data that they hadn’t been able to look at before.”

So what are the actual tangible things agencies can do right now to be accessing big data, and using it to their financial benefit?

“There’s two things. The first one is: so few of these organizations have invested, whether it be in chief data scientists or whether it be putting investments into aggregating and consolidating the data that they have. They’ve got to have a data strategy. They’ve got to bring in a person who does data for a living and create a strategy … if they begin to do that then they’ll be ahead of the game,” Schaknowski said.

“The second step, then, is working with provider [who can take] really good data that may not have been available historically and put it into a very consumable format. So whether it’s at the very individual CSR level, trying to understand what the comparable rates for various carriers’ products are in St Louis, or literally the CFO trying to best understand both benchmark and internal rates being paid to then go and negotiate more margin. I mean, those are huge game-changers when you think about the capital that frees up to then deploy back into sales and marketing activity. That’s where they’re going to see the benefit.

“So the first one is, like I said, getting their arms around their own data. It’s a tactic that everyone is talking about but few are doing well. The second one is partnering with someone who can actually present it back to them in a consumable and usable way in the workflow.”


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