Getting value from data: it’s all about lenses

Eric Giroux
Founder
July 13, 2021
“Everyone is talking about data – we need to start making more data-driven decisions”.

Every insurance professional has heard the above at some point or other in their career. In fact, every insurance professional has likely gone through one or more failed projects which had the intention to make their organisation more data driven.

And the stats don’t lie. According to Gartner, 85% of all data projects fail – ouch.

What could be the reason for so many failed projects? The truth is that data is meaningless without context. It needs to be looked at in the right way through the correct lens.

Those tasked with data projects often get caught up in workstreams which involve reviewing the best technologies, server choices, and all manner of other fancy components, but this is just a red herring.

Shoving data into the best technology and hoping for the best doesn’t create value, it creates a mess.

It also goes without saying the importance of inputting data in the right format – you can have the best analytics tools in the world but if you’re not recording the data correctly, if at all, it will never provide your business with the value you were looking for.

It is imperative that to design a successful data analytics tool, one needs to marry the business context with robust data to create a series of ‘lenses’ or data dashboards. We have found that the best way to achieve this is in a combined top-down/bottom-up approach.

Allow us to explain…

Top-down approach

The top-down approach needs to capture where the business is today, where it needs to be in the future and how it’s going to get there. This approach looks at broad business themes, asking questions such as:

• Who are your key partners?
• What key activities and key resources are required to provide value?
• Which channels do you sell through?

The answers to the above will start to give clues as to which areas of analysis need the most attention. A lens in this context is a dashboard or view of data relevant to a particular set of business objectives.

Let’s start with the typical key partner for an MGA which is often the capacity provider. Clearly a lot of attention needs to go into putting together the correct lens which shows the most relevant data when it comes to capacity provider interests.

Arranged in the right way, the ‘capacity provider lens’ will bring attention to key issues which if caught in time can be dealt with early.

For example, perhaps drilling into this further reveals a complex set of binder agreements that need to be catered for. On the time-saving front, it could be the case that getting to ‘Net to Insurer’ is currently a laborious manual process but when arranged through a lens, the right information can be surfaced at the click of a button.

The top-down approach quickly highlights priorities and quick-wins.

  • Key partners
  • Key activities
  • Key resources
  • Value propositions
  • Customer relationships
  • Channels
  • Customer segments
  • Cost structure
  • Revenue streams

Bottom-up approach

Armed with a high-level knowledge of the business’s key priorities, it is time to start drilling into the detail within each user group.

Each individual will have different requirements and therefore any MI or analytics tool needs to be designed with them in mind.

An underwriter’s needs will differ vastly to the senior management’s requirements, which will differ from the actuarial team’s needs. Crafting a lens for each user group involves understanding every aspect of their job, from the processes they complete to the reports they currently produce.

Taking the time to understand the intricacies of manual data processes allows for quick wins to tackle first. When the monotonous tasks are seen to, it will also help to promote a greater uptake of the platform from day one.

Data and technology – still nowhere to be seen

At this point, we have designed the entire MI tool, but we’ve hardly spoken about data or technology. The technology is purely a means to an end to help stakeholders make better decisions.

It is now time to match up the business and end user requirements to the available data to create an MI layer that caters for every stakeholder, and which is designed to grow over time:


When we on-board clients to our data analytics platform, we always suggest on beginning with four lenses: Group (if applicable), MGA, Capacity and Actuarial.

With one platform you can centralise your data and meet the reporting requirements of all key stakeholders.

Above all, the importance of lenses in viewing data boils down to making more efficient and accurate data analytics processes for your teams. There is no longer the need to faff with excel spreadsheets for hours every week, instead the data is available at the click of a button.

In today’s world of insurance, you need a range of skills within the workforce but for some, data analysis might not be their forte. By using a lens to make the data as easy to digest as well as the ability to gain critical insights, teams are also able to using their time effectively whilst having the time to play to their skills and strengths in other areas.

And finally, the use of lenses on the same platform allows for ‘one source of truth’ – if the same data is being used consistently for each view, then the business can have the confidence that the company-wide analytics are robust enough on which to draw key business decisions.

If you would like to find out more about data analysis lenses for insurance and how the GIROUX platform can help, get in touch.

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