September 18, 2012

Buzzwords abound in IT, and insurance is not spared their proliferation. But not all buzzy technologies are viewed equally at the highest levels of technology and business decision-making.

For example, while most companies' mobile strategies don't take ROI into account, the view of big data and analytics projects is not so freewheeling. Dennis Sullivan, chairman of the Robert E. Nolan consultancy, said in opening remarks at the MajescoMastek 2012 User Conference this morning that "ROI is paramount in the discussion around big data."

"If I'm going to spend that money, where is the payback?" Sullivan elaborated. "If I have $100,000 or $500,000 to invest in a big data project, where is it going to fit into my processing? Is it underwriting? Marketing?"

This makes sense, however. While simply the presence of robust, advanced mobile applications and capabilities go a long way toward showing that companies are worth doing business with, big data is much more of an enabler than a means to an end in and of itself. While there are plenty of ways that it improves the customer experience, they all require it working in concert with some other area of the business -- including mobility.

For example, in a later session, Murali Natarajan, VP of IT for RLI Insurance noted that it's at the places where big data and other business processes or disruptive technologies converge that offers the greatest value for all. He gave this example of how big data and mobility could combine to smooth and speed customer acquisition.

"Imagine a customer go to a house, you take their location [via mobile] and based on latitute and longitude, you know the parcel and the construction type is," he explained. "Then it's just about what limits you want. It changes the dynamic — it's not going to a website and typing in pages and pages of information."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, ...