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Analytics & You ... And Him ... And Her

Carrie Burns
Insurance Experts' Forum, May 23, 2014

A jazz musician, philosopher and detective walk into an insurance company ... for a job? Well, not exactly, but their skills may be something insurers should be looking for. As analytics programs become increasingly prevalent and important in insurance organizations, putting the right people with the right skills on the project is crucial.

In the next 12 months, the most acute needs for IT talent in a number of industries are in analytics, joint business and IT expertise, and mobile and online skills, according to McKinsey’s Global Survey results. Also according to McKinsey, “companies that are starting to crack the skill problem through creative recruiting and compensation strategies are finding themselves shorthanded in another area: they need more ‘translators.’” McKinsey describes translators as people whose talents bridge the disciplines of IT and data, analytics and business decision-making, ultimately driving the design and execution of the overall data-analytics strategy while linking the teams.

Sure, that would be ideal but difficult to find. It seems to be especially difficult in the insurance industry, as the risk business has very unique issues and challenges. McKinsey offers a more likely talent scenario: a team made up of individuals who, when together, cover all three skills. “The data strategists’ combination of IT knowledge and experience making business decisions makes them well suited to define the data requirements for high-value business analytics. Data scientists combine deep analytics expertise with IT know-how to develop sophisticated models and algorithms. Analytic consultants combine practical business knowledge with analytics experience to zero in on high-impact opportunities for analytics.”

Gartner Analyst Carol Rozwell takes this a step further, saying that there’s a range of experiences and approaches needed by anyone in analytics. At the Gartner Business Intelligence and Analytic
Summit 2014 in April, Rozwell outlined skills that can be exemplified in seven different types of people.

Among these are jazz musicians and improv actors, who Rozwell says embody the key skill of working well with others. They express concepts clearly and concisely and have the ability to integrate, with open, free-form riffing off each other. Philosophers possess the ability to deal with ambiguity and detectives demonstrate passion for ferreting out the truth, even when the information is not evident.

Now, I know an insurer is not literally going to hire a jazz musician, but looking at these skills from a different perspective may help them get to that complete team.

See the other four skills here.

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