‘When you know more, you do better’. It might be an old adage, but when it comes to data science and business, it’s not always true. Unlocking the business potential of data science isn’t a straight line.
The relationship between AI, machine learning, data analysis and modelling in data science and actionable business insights is the result of combining computational thinking with creativity. It’s the result of asking ‘what are the questions that need to be answered?’, and ‘I wonder if…’, instead of thinking ‘how can I prove this?’.
Late last year, Tower partnered with The University of Auckland to start to understand what questions need to be answered in our business and how might we answer them with technology and data science. It’s about aligning academic research capabilities and students with real world industry needs.
As well as streamlining processes in areas of importance for Tower, the collaboration lays the groundwork for the data-driven future of the New Zealand insurance industry. We’re also hoping it opens up opportunities for the next generation of data scientists.
We’ve accumulated a trove of data over the years and now we want to find ways to make the most of this resource for our customers.
To begin with, the partnership has analysed fire trends in New Zealand residential property so that in time, we can give more tailored pricing to customers. We’ve also just completed a project to geocode residential locations in Fiji. This work will help the Fijian arm of our business to benefit from the same level of detail as our Kiwi customers in the future.
Both of these deliver insights that we can plug into existing processes within our business. It’s about doing what we already do, but smarter.
But there is also another opportunity with data science within businesses. It’s the inquisitive, creative part of this technology driven data-science that can unlock so much more for businesses.
It comes back to the asking ourselves ‘what are the questions that need to be answered?’. It’s about giving your team the freedom to think ‘I wonder if there is a correlation between X & Y’ or ‘I wonder if by knowing A, we can forecast the likelihood of B’.
This is what we’re doing at Tower by looking into our customers’ current propensity to claim on their policies. As we solidify this work, we’ll understand risk in more detail and give customers a bespoke experience with a price and offering that suits their personalised needs.
But exactly what our data scientists are going to do and how they will yield leading-edge technology to unlock knowledge, is not completely known.
As a business you’ve got to be comfortable not knowing what answers you are pointing towards.
Instead, you’ve just got to define what questions you want to be answered and create a culture that’s open to whatever those answers are. That’s how you set your business up to harness the potential of data and translate it into actionable business insights.
Article written by: Miles Fordyce, Head of Data and Customer Platforms, Tower