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COVID-19: Learning from the catastrophe — turning into a data-driven powerhouse

It’s often said that in challenge lies opportunity. That is certainly true of our current operational challenges as we figure out the new normal.

Many companies are recognizing that the current environment and way of doing business will favor those that have embraced broader, modern digitization across their businesses.

In effect, the time is ripe for an insurer to become a data-driven powerhouse, basing decision-making on the most current, accurate and context-relevant data.

But what does that mean technically? I see three main technical requirements for this type of digital transformation:

  1. Pay off the “technical debt.” Recognize that some past digitization projects are no longer relevant if the systems are too rigid and cannot interconnect and share data across processes. This means decommissioning legacy systems that cannot support a modern data-driven company or where possible integrating these legacy systems using a smart data management platform.
  2. Establish a smart financial data management platform approach. Do away with an architecture consisting of multiple siloed systems operating on data that is out of sync and redundant. Replace it with a companywide platform approach that ensures data can be validated and based on a single, central “version of the truth.”
  3. Ensure workflows and processes are consistent and automated. For example, an IFRS 17 reporting process should make certain that data access, analysis, calculation and updates are happening consistently and in a timely way across all your users and process owners. That means setting up repeatable workflows built around your data management platform for a consistent end-to-end financial reporting process that will support your IFRS 17 compliance.

Is any of this easy? It might seem hard to plan and accomplish. It might seem to be easier to continue, paying your “technical debt” and to keep using the existing old systems or avoiding integrating them using a smart data management platform approach.

But the reality is that you will expend vast amounts of time and resources to compensate for the old, siloed systems and bad data that goes into your planning and decision-making.

Here are key points to consider that we will address in this blog in coming weeks and months:

  • Map out how legacy systems can be consolidated and integrated into a smart data management platform that touches all necessary data sources, as a step for retiring your technical debt.
  • Make your data “API-isch”— meaning easily shared across systems and processes – and ensure it is accessible to every query you run and every process in the company.
  • Consider getting started with a “Lifeboat” — validate your big IT & actuary projects with a 4 week proof-of-concept using real data.
  • Start digitization with the end-goal in mind, such as working toward IFRS 17 reporting compliance.

Check back soon for more of our findings and observations on how insurers can work toward better digitization to help stay on course in turbulent times.