Manulife appointed Cindy Forbes as its first chief analytics officer in March. As CAO, Forbes builds out the Canadian insurer’s global analytics functions from both its internal and external resources.
According to Forbes, Manulife has a number of analytics teams across its corporate divisions, including finance, legal and risk. Her job is to bring all of those strategies together and develop one consistent analytics approach. She spoke to INN about her long-term goals as CAO, ongoing efforts to improve customer experience and the impact new technology is having on data insurers use.
INN: What are some goals you have in the short term and beyond?
CF: I am focused on building out our functions globally and where we serve customers using analytics in an intelligent way. We are working on creating an analytics group center of expertise. As a result, I’ll be looking for talent in this space. We have a search underway right now for a head of group advanced analytics. Over time, he or she will ascend into a thought leadership role.
INN: What have you seen in your actuarial background that indicated analytics should be a focus area for Manulife?
CF: I don’t think it came from my background. I think the focus is driven by the company’s strategic direction. Advanced analytics are so important to the customer journey.
INN: How do you expect analytics to aid the customer experience?
CF: Analytics allow us to anticipate their needs. It gives us a better understanding of the customer so that when we interact with them we can give appropriate advice and suggestions. Internally, we are focused on improving operational efficiencies and enhancing risk management, but our primary focus is the customer and adapting our services to them.
INN: How do you work with other business areas to leverage analytics for claims and underwriting?
CF: Our analytic teams have a dotted line to me and a solid line to their business leaders. I work with the business leaders and my analytic team leads to ensure that we're meeting the business needs and also capturing the value that analytics can bring to the business. Both underwriting and claims are a part of the customer experience. Simplified underwriting and claims management makes that experience better.
INN: How are you seeing emerging technologies impact data insurers can use?
CF: A lot of data we use is our own, but we will also use data available externally for some of our analytics. The Internet of Things will increase the amount of data companies can draw information from. The most obvious applications at this time are in the P&C field, where you see things like telematics for automobile [insurance]. For us, we recently launched Vitality in the U.S., which offers customers premium discounts based on wearables data, resulting in a customer journey with more touchpoints.
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