Insurance chief financial officers (CFOs) face unique challenges, as noted in our report, CFO Reimagined. For one, they should be more dynamic in leveraging data they’ve possessed for some time. But the technology that can help them is only beginning to yield the promised return.
Can insurance CFOs harness data and lead their businesses to greater profitability?
Tapping new data, with new tech
Insurance CFOs have started by leading the charge to digitalize, eagerly embracing new tools. They are deploying artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain, within their own functions and organization-wide. They are also taking ownership of data across the enterprise, identifying unrealized value and driving governance around use.
Another source of value for insurers is new external data available to them. Internal data can now be combined with that gleaned from external sources such as wearables, internet of things (IoT) devices, application programming interfaces and telematics “black boxes.” Capturing this wealth of information can make insurers uniquely responsive to customer needs. The challenge, though, lies in governance. How much of this data is unstructured, in unfamiliar formats or of uncertain veracity?
CFOs are up to this task. A third of CFOs respondents to our study believe it’s finance’s job to establish preferred practices for combining data sets. And that number may rise as more insurers pull in more external data.
An insurance workforce with analytics experience and know-how
The data avalanche can be overwhelming without data scientists and other skilled specialists on board. But insurance CFOs report they are struggling to recruit and retain the talent they need. Often, the best-skilled data technicians want to work for more “glamorous” firms, such as Google, Inc. or Amazon.com, Inc.
Other options are available, and insurance CFOs are considering them.
Here are initial steps insurance CFOs are pursuing to boost their data and analytics skills.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies can fill some of the talent gap, as can collaboration and cross-department agility. CFOs are already working to break down siloes and facilitate cross-departmental work. Bringing in external consultants also can help fill talent gaps while longer-term strategies—such as reskilling key workers or acquisition—are pursued.
Insurance CFOs can begin now to adopt a more dynamic, forward-thinking approach. They can take four steps to drive the business forward.
“[Accenture’s CFO research] should be an inspiration for carriers that are still deciding on the best course to take,” said Niccolo Bergamini, Accenture’s Global Finance and Risk lead for insurance. “The sector won’t wait: It’s time to seize the future today.”
Learn how your finance function can help seize your insurance firm’s future.