As insurers evolve their analytics strategies from gathering information to interpreting data, the appointment of chief analytics officers and data scientists have become more prevalent throughout the industry compared to that of chief data officers, according to a new study by Strategy Meets Action.

Currently, 22% of personal lines carriers, 19% of commercial insurers and 16% of life & annuity companies have chief analytics officers, SMA finds, Its report “The new era of insurance analytics: Leveraging the SMA data and analytics spectrum,” surveyed 87 insurers.

“It is very easy to jump straight into technology when considering data and analytics initiatives. However, the organization and roles surrounding technology are more important, particularly in terms of success factors,” said Mark Breading, partner at SMA and the study’s author.

While L&A organizations lag behind in the chief analytic officer hiring trend, the line of business does sport the largest growth in terms of data scientist appointments this year, at 47%. In 2016, 26% of insurance companies combined acknowledged they had data scientists.

Yet, data science roles are the most difficult positions to fill, given the competition across multiple industries. Carriers are also starting to recognize scientists focused on behavior, speech and social networking will be just as valuable in the long term as new data sources emerge. The challenge, especially for smaller insurers with premiums under $1 billion, is a lack of resources to take advantage of new sources.

“[Smaller carriers] must seek alternative strategies for gaining the competencies,” wrote Breading. “Partnering with technology providers that have resources in the data science area is a key answer to the problem.”

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