Big data is one of Swiss Re’s global strategic initiatives. The insurer is using more public data to improve underwriting results and decrease the number of questions the insurer has to ask consumers to underwrite them. Riccardo Baron, big data and smart analytics lead for Americas at Swiss Re says currently available data opportunities were inconceivable only few years back.

“We are at a point where it is clear that the question is no longer ‘whether’ big data but rather ‘how’ big data should become a reality,” he says.

In that context, Swiss Re is looking at big data in terms of two major streams. In the first, big data is being used to help reduce costs and improve the efficiency of current processes throughout the insurance value chain, including claims and fraud management, cyber risk, customer management, pricing, risk assessment and selection, distribution and service management, product innovation, and research and development.

“My role is within our excellence task force, which works at a group level to analyze massive volumes of data, utilize the latest in analytics techniques and set the basis for developing innovative, new solutions for our clients,” Baron says.

In the second stream, big data also offers a new framework to think bigger in terms of market disruption. “This has to do with innovation, and how we believe newcomers in the insurance industry could potentially disrupt traditional business models,” Baron explains.

Baron says Swiss Re has created more than 100 prototypes internally, and that as a result the entire organization sees the value and importance of big data and smart analytics. “We are acquiring new data science skills and learning is becoming focused on individual market needs,” he says.

Big data talent development and acquisition also is a key concern, Baron says. “We opted for this internally driven model largely because we aim at catalyzing a mindset change in our company. We want Swiss Re to change with big data, and for our clients to benefit from new solutions in the future.”

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