Friday, January 20, 2012

Big Data - A solution in search of a problem !

What does Big Data solve in Insurance, that cannot be really solved by traditional technologies? This one seemingly simple question generates a good deal of brainstorming. Let’s keep Health insurance aside (that’s easy) and think about P&C and Life insurance space.

Where is the big data ?

Number Uno is Social data, ever growing and less contextual, but BIG it is.
Then we have policy data over years. We, of course, have a loss history of several years.
We have external risk data sources.
Few companies may also have real-time data streams from Cars (PAYD or commercial fleets), factories etc..

What can we do with Big Data technologies?

Sure we have many problems.
First, we need to know customers better.
How many times we tell them that you can save $400 by switching and then when they ask for a quote, we provide a quote more than their current outgo.
Do we congratulate them when they have a new baby arrival at home?
Do we know that they are looking to buy a car?
With big data, we will be able to co-relate all the seemingly unrelated data sources and link them to derive the actionable intelligence.

Another application is Fraud detection. Some people are out of bars, just because we cannot practically spend time and energy to figure out their fraud. Big Data technology makes is possible and simpler.

What about Risk Analysis? Sure! More the data you have, more you know about your customers, you are likely to predict the risk better.

The real advantage
To some extent, we are doing all this with current traditional technologies as well. More the data, Merrier it is, so big data technologies will definitely help, but is that all?
In my opinion, the real advantage of Big Data is to find the problem (or opportunity) that you do not even know about. When a data scientist dives deep into data and finds patterns and co-relates, there will be an Eureka moment, that will provide you the real ‘intelligence’ hidden in this data. Indeed, Big Data is a solution in search of a problem!