Increase success using business intelligence solutions

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1 white paper Business Intelligence Increase success using business intelligence solutions Business intelligence (BI) is playing an increasingly important role in helping large insurance carriers and insurers improve their overall business performance. With BI solutions continuing to mature and proliferate across industries, the same potential now exists for insurance agencies and brokerages to leverage this technology. The ability to obtain actionable, data-driven insights from a BI solution to facilitate better decision-making is becoming more important, if not essential, to agencies and brokerages. As the industry transforms from a product-oriented to a customer-oriented business model, agencies and brokerages need deeper insights into customers, prospects, carriers and internal operations to stay competitive. In this white paper, we provide an overview of BI and explain how it can be used to improve an insurance agency or brokerage s business performance. We focus our discussion on the key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive business success at agencies and brokerages, and we show how a BI solution can help foster stronger relationships with customers, optimize carrier partnerships, increase profitability and streamline internal operations. The Evolution of BI When the internet and Web technologies began to rapidly expand in the 1990s, companies started to collect massive amounts of disparate data that could be used to support decision making. Until recently, most companies have had only limited capabilities to leverage their data because business intelligence solutions were too technical for most business users to manage on their own. But today, a new generation of BI solutions is available that make it easier to access and analyze a company s in-depth business information. Empowering business users with easy, self-service access to their company s data has unlocked the power of BI to any organization, regardless of the sophistication of their IT department. Beyond Simple Reporting At its most basic level, BI is the use of specific technologies and business processes to gather, organize and analyze a company s existing data to provide greater insights into their company s operations so executives can make better decisions. Although reporting is a valuable management tool widely used by insurance agencies, it has limitations. With basic business reporting, an agency or brokerage gets a point-in-time snapshot of one or more business metrics. The information is descriptive, representing what has happened in a certain part of the business during a specified time period. With basic business reporting, the user gets answers to pre-determined questions. What s missing is the ability of the user to easily change the report to get answers to a new set of questions needed for optimal decision-making. BI, by contrast, is more diagnostic and interactive (see figure 1). It gives a decision-maker the ability to quickly dive deeper into the data to not only reveal a business result, but also to understand the reasons for the result and what might happen in the future. In other words, reporting tells you what has happened, while BI goes much farther to tell you why something happened and what this could mean for the future. Adoption of BI solutions is increasing because of this potential to enable companies to better understand why specific business outcomes are or are not occurring. In an April 2013 report, Gartner analyst Susan Galberaith concludes that // 1

2 when companies advance their BI capabilities, they are able to move from only delivering text-based reports to adding technologies that enable business users to analyze data and answer questions about why business events are happening. 1 BI Adoption in Insurance Insurance carriers have long been leaders in the adoption of BI and for good reason. They have massive amounts of internal data that can be analyzed to produce insights and competitive advantages. They also typically have access to IT expertise that, until recently, was a prerequisite for implementing a formal BI solution. While insurance agencies and brokerages also are data-driven companies with large amounts of raw data (typically stored within in an agency or brokerage management system), they generally have lacked the significant IT expertise and resources required to deploy BI solutions. But that situation has changed, according to a September 2013 report by the ACT Strategic Future Issues Work Group of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. New technologies and techniques are making possible the capture and analysis of more and more data (Big Data) and the creation of more useful BI How Reporting and BI Compare Reporting Defined: Report measurement criteria can t be changed easily by a user. When pre-determined criteria are modified, the report produces a single, specific outcome. Static: Snapshot of a past point in time. Descriptive: What has happened. Retrospective: Only capable of analyzing past events. Bi Interactive: Easy for user to change one or more measurement criterion to produce an entirely new view of the business. Dynamic: See how the business is performing in real time. Diagnostic: What has happened and the reasons why it happened. Predictive: Predict future business outcomes based on real-time analysis of business performance criteria. Figure 1 1 Galberaith, Susan, Midmarket Insights: Why Reporting Alone Isn t a Strong Enough Business Intelligence Strategy, Gartner, Inc. April 10, // 2

3 from it, the report states. Agencies and carriers are able to integrate this BI into their decisionmaking in real time, enabling them to understand their consumers and operations better. These data analytic capabilities have significantly changed how insurance carriers make underwriting, servicing and marketing decisions over the last several years, but there are major opportunities for independent agencies to harness this BI to enhance their prospecting, marketing, sales, servicing and management processes. 2 The ACT report provides two compelling messages for insurance agencies and brokerages. Not only can they more easily and affordably implement a sophisticated BI solution, but once implemented there will also be new opportunities to collaborate with carriers to improve their business performance. how BI CAN IMPROVE INSURANCE agency and brokerage PERFORMANCE The potential to improve quarterly and annual business results is apt to be incentive enough for most agencies and brokerages to take BI can help agencies a closer look at BI. and brokerages But there s another keep pace with one reason to consider of the macro trends implementing a BI in insurance strategy: BI can help agencies and brokerages the transformation keep pace with one of their industry of the macro trends from a primary in insurance the focus on selling transformation of products to a more their industry from customer-centric a primary focus on selling products to business model. a more customercentric business model. Another ACT report, How Consumers, Businesses & Agencies Will Change, predicted in February 2012 that the agency that is high touch and high relationship will do well with the changing consumer, as compared to the agency that is primarily transactional. 3 The actionable insights into their customer data enabled by BI can lay the foundation for meeting this need for a higher touch and higher relationship business model. The potential to implement a BI solution is certainly a positive development for any insurance agency or brokerage, but it s also important to understand the specifics of how BI can benefit the company. For that, exploring the benefits of BI in the context of the agency s KPIs is an ideal next step. Below are common insurance agency and brokerage KPIs and the ways in which BI can deliver greater insights that lead to improved performance against these metrics. In this discussion, you will see a recurring theme: BI enables you to better mine your existing internal data to get answers to a longer list of more in-depth questions. These may be questions that you ve asked yourself in the past, but haven t had the analytical capabilities to easily obtain answers to or obtain answers at all. RETAIN EXisting CUSTOMERS The common reporting tools in use at most agencies and brokerages can show customer retention rates, but typically can t dissect the book of business to reveal patterns and trends that can be the basis for specific action. With a BI solution, the agency or brokerage will be able to quickly and easily delve more deeply into its data to reveal more granular details like retention over time by policy type and/or demographic group. With BI, you will be able to get answers to new, > > What types of policies are the stickiest? > > What policy types are growing and what types are shrinking? > > What demographic group is most or least likely to renew? > > Why are customers in a specific demographic renewing or not renewing? acquire MORE NEW CUSTOMERS While the focus an agency or brokerage puts on acquiring new customers differs from keeping existing customers, the two activities are obviously intertwined. The greater insights into customer retention enabled by BI can inform how an agency or brokerage markets and sells to new prospects. For example, by getting better insight into the retention results for a specific policy type by a demographic group, you can more accurately Key Trends Report, ACT Strategic Future Issues Work Group of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, September 27, Trends/2013-Key-Trends-Report.aspx 3 How Consumers, Businesses & Agencies Will Change, ACT Agencies of the Future Work Group, February 10, Page 3. // 3

4 tailor your marketing message for prospects in that group. In addition, a BI solution will enable you to better compare the effort it takes to acquire new customers versus retaining existing customers. The more granular data produced by a BI solution also is more apt to reveal an existing customer that shows up in a report as a new customer because their policies were moved from one carrier to another. Geographical representations can illustrate market penetration in an area, by carrier, by agency structure or by clients. This insight can highlight where your successes lie and assist in identifying ways to replicate that success, as well as develop new business strategies to maximize opportunities in a particular geographic area. MAXimiZE STAFF PRODuctivity The detailed data mining and analysis enabled by a BI solution can be especially useful in optimizing an agency or brokerage s staffing. BI can help the management team more easily and accurately get the details about individual staff productivity and other workforce issues. You will be able to identify who on the staff is most productive, who is least productive and who has big customer turnover because of compensation structures, carrier incentives and carrier rate changes. With BI, you will be able to gain answers to new, > > Who with the agency or brokerage is driving the most revenue? > > Who is lagging in their performance and output? > > Are the laggards faced with legitimate issues that impede their performance? > > Are there other workflow issues? > > How much staff time does it take to accomplish a task or group of tasks? BI also can deliver an indirect staffing benefit. The flexibility of most BI tools offers line managers the ability to easily adapt how they analyze business results without requiring help from an IT staff to write new reports or administrative staff to manually compile information from multiple reports. optimize OPERations The ability to maximize staff productivity using BI plays a major role in optimizing overall operations. A BI solution also can help the agency or brokerage look at other dimensions of their resource utilization to get a more holistic view of operational costs and identify ways to improve utilization. By learning how much manpower and other business resources are required to support and grow your book of business, you can better utilize all business assets to streamline operations. With BI, you will be able to gain answers to new, > > How much staff and other business resources are required to support and grow my book of business? > > What aspects of my operations are least or most efficient? > > Are there specific ways I can derive more value from the data in my agency or brokerage management system? strengthen CARRieR RELATIONSHips The new ability of an agency or brokerage to implement a BI solution with capabilities comparable to what carriers use can significantly change the relationship with its carrier partners. Equipped with greater Equipped with insights into the role greater insights that individual carriers into the role that are playing in their individual carriers business, the agency or are playing in brokerage can reframe their business, the conversation with its carriers. Carriers the agency or are using BI to make brokerage can underwriting, servicing reframe the and marketing decisions conversation that have direct impact with its carriers. on an agency or brokerage. Using the insights gained from its own BI solution enables the agency or brokerage to understand how these decisions are impacting their own operations and give the carrier informed feedback. An agency or brokerage also can use BI to compare and contrast // 4

5 the value of individual carriers to its own business. As a result, the agency or brokerage will be better positioned to collaborate with the carriers that can best support the agency s business objectives. increase Revenue AND PRofitaBILITY Using BI to improve performance against individual KPIs will, of course, create opportunities to increase revenue and profitability. With the greater insight into its book of business enabled by BI, an agency or brokerage can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its marketing and sales strategies to focus on the best products for individual groups of customers and prospects. A BI solution can reveal net revenue without the need to run and compile multiple reports. With BI, you will be able to get answers to new, > > What specific actions are driving revenue? > > What parts of my business are generating the best return on investment? > > What is my revenue per capita? after IMPLEMENTATION Once a BI solution is implemented, the agency or brokerage will improve its performance against its existing KPIs and increase the value of the data within its agency or brokerage management system. But a BI solution also can deliver other performance management benefits. compare OPERations AGAInst industry Best PRactices A fully implemented and operational BI solution can give the agency or brokerage the insights it needs to compare its operations to industry best practices. With BI, the company will be better positioned to compare and contrast its own operations against its peers. This, in turn, can reveal new ways to improve performance. Become A MORE customer-oriented AGENCY or brokerage The major industry shift from selling insurance products to becoming a customer-oriented business will require the type of customer insights that only a formal BI solution can provide cost effectively. BI solutions have matured to the point that any agency or brokerage can seriously consider putting BI to work in its business. In this white paper, we have explored how formal BI solutions can be implemented at insurance agencies and brokerages to harness the potential of data to better serve existing customers, acquire new customers, streamline operations and increase profitability. DO IN MINUTES WHat IT TOOK Days TO DO Eliminating the dependence on standard pre-defined reports will enable the agency or brokerage to increase the sophistication of its operational analysis. The BI solution will give the agency or brokerage the ability to understand the forces driving operational results in minutes rather than days. As a result, the agency or brokerage management team will make more informed decisions, faster and at less cost. // 5

6 CONTRIButors This report was prepared by Applied Systems, Inc. ABout APPLIED SYSTEMS Applied Systems is a leading provider of software that powers the business of insurance. Applied is recognized as a pioneer in agency and brokerage management systems and data exchange between agencies, brokers, carriers and their clients. Automating the insurance lifecycle for more than 140,000 insurance professionals, 12,000 agencies and brokerages, and 350 carriers worldwide, Applied enables millions of people around the world to safeguard and protect what matters most Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. This document is provided for information purposes only. It is intended to give timely, but general, information on the subject matter covered herein, and the contents of this document are subject to change without notice. Prior results and case studies mentioned in this document do not guarantee a similar outcome on any particular situation in the future. You should consult with an attorney or other professional service provider with respect to how the matters discussed herein affect and relate to your own business affairs. This document is not warranted to be error-free, nor subject to any other warranties or conditions, whether express or implied. Applied Systems and its affiliates specifically disclaim any liability with respect to this document and no contractual obligations are formed either directly or indirectly by this document. Any statements made herein are not a commitment to deliver any material, code or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions, except as provided for in a separate software license agreement. The development, release, timing and availability of any products, features or functionality described herein remain at the sole discretion of Applied Systems and its affiliates. All other names of products and published works identified herein may be the trademarks or otherwise proprietary material of their respective owners. Applied Systems, Inc. 200 Applied Parkway University Park, IL For more information visit appliedsystems.com Copyright 2014 Applied Systems

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