Driving growth: top insurer creates next-generation analytics platform
Already a serious market player, this insurer's continued evolution dictated a new approach to business intelligence including visual analytics
Following a major organisational change, this insurer – part of one of Europe's leading insurance groups – recognised the need for more powerful analytics and predictive modelling capabilities in key areas including Actuarial Pricing, Fraud and Marketing. The goal was to support sales, both direct and through intermediaries. Specifically, the business wanted to empower Pricing Actuaries with stronger abilities in data manipulation and modelling, enabling them to create and refresh models faster, to better react to market changes, and avoid the potential for losing clients through inappropriate pricing. In marketing, the company wanted to better target, attract and convert customers, particularly in direct sales, and in general wanted to gain new modelling and scoring capabilities across pricing, marketing and fraud.
"They recognised we could provide a single integrated platform to address all their requirements in terms of data manipulation, modelling, analytics and scoring - a scalable platform that could also cope with future demands," says Paul Evans, Customer Services Manager, SAS. "It was important for them to gain a flexible 'foundation platform' so they could expand their capabilities as requirements changed and the business continued to grow." To deploy a platform based on SAS® Office Analytics and SAS® Visual Analytics technology, the insurer approached SAS Professional Services to provide consultants and implementation specialists as part of a Quick Start package.
Visual analytics for BI reporting
"Services had been discussed by the Client Manager and included in their plans early: the company believed we would provide the fastest and most effective route for implementation, based in part on our record in providing services to other group businesses in Europe," continues Evans. The implementation team could draw on experience gained delivering similar solutions for other leading insurance and financial service companies. "In this situation, our job is to provide a fast and focused response to meet customer requirements, working with their people as necessary and minimising effort on their part," Evans says.
An initial Quick Start package had been agreed to install and configure Office Analytics. However, further discussions had led to the insurer also deciding to deploy Visual Analytics in a pilot project to compare the enhanced Business Intelligence and reporting capabilities it offered with their existing tools – so creating major changes to the Quick Start scope of work.
Implementing on time, in scope and to high quality
Initial plans were based on implementing and running the two solutions on two separate servers, with services provided including consulting and workshops for requirements gathering, followed by focused installation and configuration. Evans says implementation challenges included a new company-wide network being deployed at the same time as the analytics installation, and budgetary constraints. "We worked closely with the customer and our delivery partner to provide what they needed as flexibly as possible," he says. "We conducted an Architecture Review, held further discussions with the customer, and proposed to combine both server solutions into one. We then provided a complete Project Plan based on a clearly defined scope of work. Without the expert knowledge our consultants and implementation team provided, the customer might have taken a route that wasn't optimal, in terms of the practical IT constraints it faced." Indeed, the documented Architecture and Project Plan - something that doesn't normally form part of a "standard" Quick Start package - reflected a wide range of installation requirements, including knowledge transfer, quality assurance, storage dependencies and various other post-installation factors that had to be considered.
A few weeks later, the insurer had an integrated platform combining data preparation, analytics and reporting. This is enabling more robust governance and provides a genuinely flexible framework to incorporate data mining and other decision-making tools as needed, with scalability to support future plans. Evans summarises the services delivered as "an enhanced Quick Start. Every customer and implementation is different, so you have to address each case individually. In this case, the environment proved to be more complex than anticipated and therefore outside the scope of a straightforward Quick Start. Once we'd taken a closer look and formulated a plan, they were happy to accept our ideas and proceed on a fixed price basis; transparency in the services you plan to provide and the cost is very important. This type of engagement is about delivering for the customer on time, in scope and to a high degree of quality. To do that, you need to know what you're doing - and be able to work as flexibly and creatively as the situation dictates."
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Following a major restructuring, rapidly plan and deploy new powerful analytics capabilities to support business growth and enhance operations in Actuarial Pricing, Marketing and Fraud
Integrated services with an enhanced 'Quick Start' approach to implement a new platform based on SAS Office Analytics and SAS® Visual Analytics: Consulting, Phase Zero/Requirements Gathering, Architecture Plan, Installation and Configuration
Fast, quality assured and cost-effective installation of a business-critical analytics platform, with highly focused expertise, capabilities, resources and knowledge transfer via SAS Professional Services and its delivery partner
“"The insurer wanted to fill important gaps in its existing analytics platform and gain new capabilities to support its new business strategy - it also believed that SAS was best-placed to ensure a fast and effective implementation."”
Customer Services Manager, SAS