Executive Q&A: Data, the Cloud, and the Insurance Industry

Executive Q&A: Data, the Cloud, and the Insurance Industry

From integrating data silos to creating strong customer experiences, the insurance industry is facing a host of challenges. Venkitesh “Venki” Subramanian, vice president of product management for enterprise solutions at Reltio, spoke to us about the results of the company’s recent survey of the industry.

Upside: Let’s start with a little background about your survey. Who participated and why did you focus on the insurance industry?

Venkitesh Subramanian: Our Insurance CIO Mega Trends report surveyed 100 leaders from insurance companies across North America. More than two-thirds of respondents represent organizations with over $1 billion in revenue. Most respondents (64 percent) identified as working in information technology and data management within the insurance field. The report is based on a survey conducted by WBR Insights of 100 technology leaders from insurance companies across the US and Canada; 29 percent of respondents are C-level executives.

When it comes to tech challenges, what are insurance leaders most concerned about?

The survey showed top insurance leaders are facing aggressive business demands and formidable challenges across various dimensions, including the following:

  • Shifting customer purchase preferences
  • Evolving customer loyalty linked to innovative product offerings
  • Increasing pressure on classic operating models
  • Balancing improved customer relations through data with increased protection and privacy of personal data
  • Requirements for increased automation and intelligent operations

These give rise to a number of technological challenges. However, one of the biggest challenges insurance companies face is the siloed and fragmented IT landscape. It is not uncommon for an insurance company to have a dozen or so systems for policy management, claims management, or other key processes across various lines of business, leading to data discrepancies, inefficient operations, and inconsistent customer experiences.

How does cloud-native technology address these challenges?

By 2025, over 80 percent of enterprises will adopt a cloud-first strategy and total expenditures on cloud technologies will surpass $1.5B according to a Gartner study released in November 2021. The cloud is not a choice but a necessity to keep pace with the innovation and deliver scalable solutions fast to support business needs. This accelerated cloud adoption will create further fragmentation of the data landscape, but it will also create unique opportunities for organizations to leverage cloud-native solutions to solve data management challenges. The use of cloud-native databases such as Amazon’s DynamoDB or Google’s Cloud Spanner, cloud native integration, data lakes, and machine learning capabilities provide the ability to create highly scalable, real-time data management solutions.

Reltio has been a trusted partner for insurance companies as they manage customer, policy, and claims data across disparate legacy systems. By using a cloud-native SaaS MDM offering, businesses can unify and cleanse multisource, complex core data into a single source of trusted information — in real time. Insurers can gain a complete view of their customers so they can pivot from policy-centric operations to customer-centric operations. API-led, easy integration with the partner ecosystem allows insurers to launch new innovative services and drive faster growth.

How do master data management (MDM) practices and solutions currently support the insurance industry specifically? Are there opportunities to improve MDM for these industries?

Companies spend significant amounts of money on their digital transformation efforts. It is imperative CIOs and CDOs ensure these initiatives are successful by supporting them with the right technology and data. CDOs are concerned about the data complexity and the threat of disruption from newer digital-native Insurtech startups.

Many insurance companies leverage previous-generation MDM technologies or have built their own solutions to create a single view of their customer data, along with related information like policies and insured assets. Unfortunately, these systems are unable to keep up with growth; they are unable to deliver the data with the speed and accuracy required. Moreover, they’re often inflexible and costly. A modern, flexible MDM solution is needed to solve these challenges.

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