How Data and Analytics Transforms Decision-Making in Insurance
When you think of today’s era of Big Data and how companies across the globe have access to more data than at any other time in human history, the insurance industry may not be the first one that comes to mind. The truth, however, is that insurance organizations have long understood and engaged in data collection and predictive analytics — with no signs of slowing down.
For those who have passion for analytics and enjoy variety in their work, there’s never been a better time to consider a career in insurance. Someone who knows this well is John McKendry, business intelligence analyst at NSM Insurance Group. Like most professionals in the industry today, John did not anticipate turning insurance into a career, but he’s so glad he did!
As we’ve celebrated Insurance Careers Month — a global initiative that highlights abundant career opportunities in insurance — the entire month of February, we sat down with John to get his insights on the increasingly important role data & analytics plays at NSM and the insurance industry at large.
Tell me about your NSM career journey and what you do in your current role.
My NSM journey began as an intern back in Summer 2019, with the first half spent on the accounting team and the second half with the strategy & analytics team. I ended up extending my internship by several months into the fall semester of my senior year up until January 2020. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity lined up once I graduated in May 2020, and it was then that I joined the strategy & analytics team full-time.
In my current role, my primary objective is to be a go-to, analytical resource for NSM’s 10+ B2B specialty insurance programs by using data to assist our leaders make more informed business decisions, such as product development, targeting new class segments, or geographic expansion.
How does NSM use data to evolve?
The potential of data in the insurance industry is rather limitless, but there are a handful of companies that face the organizational challenges of becoming a data-driven company. NSM is not one of them. We’ve worked — and even reworked — our approach to building and managing data and analytics assets that enable our team to create client-centric solutions that contribute to our agents’ success, as well as strengthening our own company by disseminating key data about our business back to the business leaders. We’re then able to collaborate and convert those insights into strategic opportunities for the company — ranging from strategic acquisitions to targeting new industries and classes. In short, we collect the right data to ensure we keep innovating and evolving as a specialty insurance leader.
What does the future of data and analytics look like for NSM?
We’re continuously trying to enhance how we present or visualize various data and information we collect in a simplified manner to ensure it is actionable. We’re also keen on bringing on new talent to invite even more creative thinking and continue our upward momentum.
What are you most excited about in your field or role?
I’m very excited about the growth of NSM and the new technologies we’re rolling out as we strive for more automation and innovation. Having an “entrepreneurial mindset” is a pillar of the NSM culture and something that is ingrained throughout all functions of the business.
What’s your advice for someone interested in data and analytics?
This may sound boring but knowing Excel beyond the basics is an absolute must. Everyone works in Excel and will continue to do so. You need to know how to manipulate or configure the data in a way that it gives you answers. In addition to that, learn SQL and Python/R. And with all of these, PRACTICE. Speaking from personal experience, you’ll be happy you did when it comes time to tap these skills — and it also makes you an invaluable asset.