Recently as I talk to pension providers and agencies, you know what subject comes up more and more frequently? ANALYTICS. But a common misperception persists in many of those organizations that leveraging analytics is both complex and costly. If this was just a few years ago, that might have been true, but thanks to technology advancements, not any longer. Today, it is relatively easy, fast and inexpensive to start reaping the rewards from deploying advanced analytics to make a real difference in driving business outcomes.
Cloud-based, analytics-as-a-service offerings (like the Accenture Insights Platform), enable organizations to get started simply and easily without the complex and large-scale systems and heavy IT involvement that used to be required. Using a platform-based approach allows business users to start driving insight from their data at a low opportunity cost.
So, what are analytics and how are they different from the plain old reporting we have been doing for years?
First, analytics takes the business data you already have and allows you to manipulate it to derive insights rather than producing static reports. That means being able to ask new questions and carry out ‘what if?’ analyses to model different scenarios and gauge the impact of changing different values and variables in a model.
Second, today’s technologies enable you to quickly and easily access data, including data types that have not been available before. This includes data that can be scraped from social media sites, unstructured data from internal sources such as message boards, blogs and so on.
Third, you can combine data from a range of business applications that previously would have been too cumbersome and too costly to aggregate, analyze, format and report on. You can get started finding new insights simply by pointing these new analytical tools at different data sources and applications, letting the technology platform do all the heavy lifting of data collection and building the relationship models.
Use cases for analytics for pensions are only limited by the imagination. A starting point is often to help agencies model the effects of changing member and retiree demographics to understand potential impacts on funding, services and how people are using the services. They can help answering questions like: Should channel strategies move to digital and mobile? What would be the cost benefits, and would members embrace such new channels? This type of scenario modelling helps shape decisions that change policies and achieve new business outcomes.
Analytics also provides new ways to look at data across the entire enterprise. It’s often easy to miss the implications that a broken process in one area can have on other areas. With analytics you can see the bigger picture and get ahead of those scenarios before they have a material impact. A common analysis done by organizations is to look at revenue/cost leakage due to mistakes and possible fraud activities and the impact across the organization.
Analytics clearly has a lot to offer. So, compared to other industries, why are pensions rather late in joining the party? Typically, I’ve found that the biggest barrier is not technology, but embracing the change in thinking and behavior that is required. Rather than being reactive to external changes in the business environment, an analytics mindset adopts a more predictive and preventative approach, defined by the business outcomes you want to achieve.
The technology is easily accessible, there’s plenty of data to use. So, what’s your excuse for not getting started?