For years insurers have endeavored to build up strong analytic capabilities to get a better sense of their customers. These efforts allowed them to augment their underwriting processes, marketing efforts and fraud detection. While a series of enterprise-class hardware and software advances are the primary catalysts of this effort, broad societal trends have also played a part.

Indeed, the age of too much information is a data-centric insurer's dream. With seemingly little compunction, people now publicly broadcast personal information that insurers once would have to spend considerable time and effort digging up, if they could access it at all. Newly robust social intelligence tools enable insurers to glean troves of actionable data directly from social networks. For example, that Facebook photo of an insured paragliding in paradise may be of keen interest to a workers' compensation case manager.

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