Big Data, Big Questions
Insurance Experts' Forum, October 21, 2011
At this week's Predictive Analytics World, I had the opportunity to sit in on a session led by Dr. Matthew Flynn, analytics and data guru at Traveler's Insurance.
Flynn talked about the ways his team is surfacing analytics to make data more meaningful to the business. The challenge, he said, is that data and analytic tools reside on different platforms across the Traveler's organization, and it's a matter of being able to bring this data together to make it meaningful to decision-makers.
Such was the theme throughout the conference. It is well understood that analytics can deliver powerful insights to previously not-well-understood business problems. However, in many cases, the data is either undiscoverable because it is locked away in a system somewhere, or, when available, there are enormous data quality issues – meaning there is duplicate data, or it may not be timely.
Now, we have “Big Data” on the rise, which not only comes out of data generated from transactions and customer files, but also from the Web and social media space. This is creating the need for new roles within companies – individuals that understand the data that is of value to the business and how it can be extracted and leveraged. In addition, these individuals need the political savvy to know how to work with the various business units that will share this data.
Who should assume such a role? The CIO? The marketing chief? Business analysts and data quants? Ideally, efforts to act on the potential that Big Data provides should come from all parts of the business. The question is, how long will valuable information remain holed up in silos? The industry has lots of work ahead as we move into the data-driven era.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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