Data-first marketing: The challenge and the opportunity
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Data-first marketing: The challenge and the opportunity

Neil Gardner, Chief Customer Officer, Asia, Generali Asia
Neil Gardner, Chief Customer Officer, Asia, Generali Asia

Neil Gardner, Chief Customer Officer, Asia, Generali Asia

Most traditional insurers have long recognised the need to evolve from data-holding providers of insurance to comprehensive, agile service providers with innovative product and service offerings. To get there, they need to transform their business models and become data-first organisations.

This means putting data science, analytics and IT at the centre of the business and then applying those core skills to certain products and verticals. For marketing, it is about driving strategic marketing decisions and optimising campaigns and programmes based on data. Data-first is the result of being data-driven, where data is used effectively to generate insights to make positive change possible.

For Generali in Asia, this is the next critical step in our customer journey, our transition to become “Lifetime Partner” to our customers and agents. Over the last three years, we have been working hard to create a customer-centric environment, building a culture that provides our employees across our business with a defined brand experience, so they are committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Our journey to become data-first starts with making the right changes to become a data-driven organisation. We are looking at how to use data, analytics and AI in all functions and areas to make better decisions and to make processes leaner, faster and even more customer oriented.

We also want to further automate simple and repetitive tasks so we can free up time and resources that can be dedicated to the areas where the human touch and the human experience is most important. Furthermore, advanced analytics enables us to better understand the needs of our customers, as well as better assess the risks involved in insuring them. This means keeping up with their different life stages, during which their needs continue to evolve, and being able to best support them throughout.

A simple example to illustrate where data can allow a single customer view is when a customer updates their contact details because they have moved to a new property, then this is a trigger for one of our agents to reach out to offer home and contents insurance. It is about understanding what is going on in our customer’s lives, what are the most appropriate products, when to offer them, through which channels and how to personalise our offering.

  This is the age of data, and the insurance industry is in an
enviable position   


Insurers have historically collected a wealth of data, but they have been slower to monetize this asset, due to organisational challenges and have lagged other industries in their investment and adoption of analytics.

Legacy systems have been a key challenge for many traditional insurers who run business processes on old CRM, policy, billing and claims systems. Upgrading those systems involves potential disruption to existing services, additional costs for development and migration, and associated change management issues.

In addition, some insurers continue to work with siloed data, where they have separate departments or business lines managing their own systems and data. Without an overarching approach to data processing, there becomes an inability to recognise the same customer across products, as well as various stages of a policy lifecycle.

This challenge extends within functions. For example, if we look at marketing there are multiple channels to communicate with customers, such as call centres, chatbots and mobile apps which can result in a lack of sharing and communicating the data derived from those platforms across the department.

Several international insurance companies run a federated business model in Asia, in which each market operates with a degree of independence in terms of priorities, spending and development. While this offers many benefits, it is difficult to implement an organisation-wide model for processing data and so there is a need to find solutions appropriate to each market.

We recognise that being data-driven in a hygiene factor in this decade, as the industry is facing competition from providers who are data-first, without the legacy of 20th century data architecture.

Through our federated model in Asia, Generali is working in each of our eight markets to address the challenges and fix the underlying issues through incremental innovation and making gradual changes in the way we process data. We are doing this because while our agents are delivering most of our Lifetime Partner experience, it is the entire organisation that is responsible for providing them with a 360-degree customer view enriched by insights, allowing them to create closer relationships.

Despite the challenges mentioned earlier, insurance companies, many of which have a century-old record of creating value for their customers, are in a strong position to flourish in this digital age. Not only do they have a treasure trove of data on hand, but they also have expertise in the ecosystems that are evolving to offer customers both risk prevention and risk mitigation services.

Data is taking the insurance industry forward and will continue to bring about positive change for our customers. Now is the time to actively pursue the path to become data-first.

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