July 25, 2012 – As insurers begin to look at leveraging their data across all business units to make more effective and efficient business decisions and identify cost reduction opportunities, data mastery investments become critical.

A new Celent report indicates that BI/analytics continues to be one of the top three budgeted items and priorities for insurers across all insurance business and geographies. And, insurers looking to maximize their data mastery investments should begin with defining their data mastery strategy and making sure it is aligned with their business goals and objectives.

The report, “Data Mastery Spectrum Overview 2012,” says the current data mastery space in insurance continues to mature and focus on complete solutions. Most vendors provide an integrated data mastery suite solution, offering ETL, data warehouse/data mart, analysis server, BI presentation layer, and some level of BI content, such as insurance data models, dashboard and report templates, KPIs, etc., which was not the case three years ago, according to the report. Most systems today provide some level of transactional analytics and dashboards; however, insurers that are succeeding are looking at their data mastery efforts from an enterprise perspective and definition.

The report profiles 27 data mastery vendors that provide at least one of the data mastery components to insurers. Through this research, Celent concludes that while the technology is improving, very few vendors offer a data mastery roadmap service to help carriers formulate their strategy, and insurers need to be careful in this area, “because most vendors will talk about a data mastery roadmap, but, in fact, the vendors are referring to their product roadmap.”

Insurers need a data mastery roadmap aligned to their business goals to avoid the costly mistakes of the mid-2000s, when large master data management approaches failed due to their size and complexity. Insurers that succeed look at their data mastery efforts from an enterprise perspective and definition, using a data model that enables an insurer to think strategically and act tactically, but also must be able to scale early successes, solve particular business problems and grow with future data mastery endeavors. Insurers that can best leverage both their internal and external data will be the leaders by 2020, according to the report.

In the report Celent also climbs into big data, saying it can add dimension and structure to dealing with data/information challenges. Most carriers have created data mastery solutions with structured, primarily transactional data from their systems. However, carriers are now dealing with semi-structured or unstructured data (variety), real-time requirements (velocity), and variability within the security models, metadata schema, and varying sources. Thus, Celent says, big data can be defined by volume, velocity, variety, and variability. Most data master vendors have continued to scale their solutions to deal with the larger volume of data (i.e., large terabytes to petabytes of data); however, most of them lack solutions that address the other three dimensions, and therefore insurers will be presented with new challenges.

This story originally appeared at Insurance Networking News.

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