By: Tony Jacob, Managing Director, Worldwide Insurance at Microsoft

I’m looking forward to the annual IASA Conference in Indianapolis this week, where we’ll be meeting senior business and IT leaders from the insurance industry to discuss how cloud and big data technologies can enable them to better identify risk, drive innovation and increase speed to market while dramatically reducing cost and complexity.  We’ll be sharing stories of partners and customers who are well on their way on this journey -- partners like Milliman, one of the world’s largest independent actuarial and consulting firms, that offers the cloud-based risk solution Integrate™. The solution runs on Microsoft Azure and helps carriers reimagine the relationships between people, processes and technology; manage risk and maximize efficiencies; and unlock the true potential of human capital to drive business, not simply manage it.  We’ll also discuss some of our customer stories, like Metlife and its use of our SQL Server database and business intelligence technologies to democratize access to data across their organization, bringing key insights around customer interactions and predictive customer buying behaviors to the fingertips of their business decision makers.

Stories like these prove that despite the pressures of global economic weakness, burdensome regulations and slowing growth, the insurance industry can turn to technology as a key enabler, helping them navigate this increasingly complex business environment and address their top priorities of compliance and risk management, cost efficiencies and business growth.

The ability to capture, store, compute and analyze vast volumes and a wide variety of data sources has never been more critical to industries, and the insurance industry is no exception to this. But while no stranger to vast amounts of data, the insurance industry  has been held back by legacy IT infrastructures, with much of the budgets going towards maintaining core systems, rather than innovation. This is where a cloud-powered data platform to store and harness data, combined with the right end-user tools to visualize insights from that data, can be a game changer for the industry. In fact, a recent Microsoft-commissioned IDC global study found that financial services companies’ worldwide, including insurers, stand to gain $308B in potential value—a “data dividend”-- over the next four years by growing their “data smarts”. 

 

From a technology perspective, when we talk to our customers in this industry about cloud and big data, we make a strong case for opportunity, hitting hard on the following two messages where the mountain of robust supporting evidence continues to grow:

 

1)       Building a Cloud-powered Business is Good Business-- The cloud as a source of elastic compute capacity is giving carriers a new opportunity, and one that’s just too good to ignore. For example, when it comes to quarterly close-outs, it can feel like Groundhog Day as insurers work long days, wait for hours for their models, and ultimately base decisions on risk and valuation data that may be 14 days old. We now ask insurers, “What would you do with quarterly close-outs that take less than half the time to complete, with near real-time data, greater accuracy, and millions of dollars less in infrastructure and process costs? What would that mean to your business?”

 

2)       Building a Data-Smart Business is Good Business-- Getting smarter about risk analytics—whether it’s greater visibility into risk processes and controls, ability to do faster and more precise risk modeling, or ability to develop a holistic view of risk across a mashup of legacy, current, and third-party data—is key to staying operationally competitive and financially strong. But rich data in the hands of a few severely limits its potential. Every business decision maker can benefit from actionable, data-driven insight—more commonly known as self-service BI--to help with better decisions in real-time and get a more holistic view of the customer. Enabling insight across the organization for an exponentially growing amount of data helps insurance carriers move fast and move first in the market. And remember—thanks to the speed and economics of cloud-based technologies, cashing in on the data dividend doesn’t have to be a disruptive, all-or-nothing endeavor for your organization.

 

The Microsoft Azure cloud platform and SQL Server data platform combine data storage, access, aggregation, analysis, visualization, and collaboration across a single integrated solution that can deliver insights to the fingertips of every employee through Office 365, the world’s most widely used productivity software. Along with partners such as Accenture Duck Creek, Milliman, Numerix, Towers Watson and Infosys—we’re helping carriers see the possibilities that our technologies can unlock for their business. Check out this video from Milliman for just one example.

 

Read more about what we’re doing at IASA this year or visit our booth, #117, to see how Microsoft’s cloud and data platform provides a flexible foundation for transforming your business. You can also learn more on our Accelerate your Insights site.