This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.
When you implement a new technical solution, you assume that you own and can easily access your data from within said system. This is not necessarily the case. Read the fine print and you may learn that your data is not available, or even your data at all!
Sure, you probably own your data legally. You probably have it in writing that if you move away from whatever software you contract with, you can export a massive CSV file or what have you. But do you own your data? Can you use it to better understand your business, your customers, your producers, your process? Because it really is owning your data.
Insurance runs on data
ROI, NPS, CBA… Turnaround times, lagging indicators, leading indicators… Data drives decisions – nowhere is this more concrete than in insurance, where the fundamental idea of the business is anchored in actuarial tables.
Yet, when it comes to internal processes, data is often unstructured, thus trapped in a black box of operations. Sometimes it is information contained in manually maintained systems such as spreadsheets, customer relationship management (CRM) software, faxes and actual paperwork. Other times, it̵7;s information your team has migrated to digital software, such as contract agreements or insurance manufacturer compliance systems.
Good companies use data to understand their customers, producers and staff. This applies as thoroughly to internal processes as to claims payment and customer service. Unlocking your data means better understanding the answers to questions like:
- Where are the bottlenecks in your process?
- Are you adequately staffed for your business, or are there complications with overstaffing/understaffing?
- Is there a tipping point where your company is most likely to lose producers or customers?
If you’re thinking about using data-driven decision making, getting access to your data isn’t just important, it’s imperative.
Unfortunately, when it comes to internal operations, too many organizations rely on gut instinct and a trench mentality to drive their decisions. And many organizations don’t even know how or where to get the information they need to make good choices.
Lacking this kind of visibility is about more than just avoiding silos (although objectively that’s great). It’s also about data privacy, owning your business insights and avoiding regulatory missteps by protecting personal information.
So who owns your data? The answers to these questions can reveal much more about your access to your own information.
Where does your data live?
This can seem like a very simple or very complex question depending on whether you use a series of manual input processes or have a single source of truth.
For operator agreement data, this can live in a combination of:
- A contract management app like Docusign
- Emails from your legal team
- Your operations team’s spreadsheet and
- Your operator and agency partners’ systems
For compliance data, your information could be in a government database, your customer management system, your emails, a pile of paper from a fax machine, or (for the love of Mike, we hope this doesn’t happen but you know it is) sticky notes on someone’s desk.
If you’ve been doing things manually, finding where your data is at any given moment is a painstaking task. If you have a database, e.g. a compliance management solution or a procurement software, the data should be better organized.
Where and how your data is organized is imperative when it comes to knowing who owns your data. If it would take your team a few hours or even days of work to collect and analyze your producer data to understand onboarding bottlenecks or to piece together stutter steps, then you don’t own your data, your data owns you (even if you has legal ownership of It).
Does your team retain data?
This question may be presumptuous – it seems obvious that any data collection will require some level of maintenance to keep the information current. However, whether you own your data may depend on where the maintenance comes from.
If you have to manually go out and seek data updates from producers, government agencies, or other entities, you may not own your data.
If you have a third party handling all of your data maintenance, whether or not you “own” your data depends on how accessible it is after that point. If you have to jump through hoops to get reports or alerts about important information, then your ownership is probably nominal. Like how you “own” the stationary bike at your sister’s house.
If you have a source of truth that automatically updates your information whether the update comes from producers, carriers, or government agencies (such as compliance software that integrates with the National Insurance Producer Registry, as a purely hypothetical example), you can come very close to owning your data. In this case, even if your team doesn’t have to do a lot of work to keep the information up to date, you’ll have the latest available information at your fingertips! It is ultimately the ideal in terms of data ownership and availability.
How much does it cost to access your data?
Availability is undoubtedly ownership.
This is really the stickiest of sticking points when it comes to who owns your data. If you have software that organizes your data and collects it into standardized data fields that are easy to compare, but then that service provider gatekeepers that data—data that you entered and maintains and pays SaaS to organize—who really owns it?
Often, software companies promise to organize data and give you more insights to make informed decisions. Still, it pays to ask questions about how you will be able to access said insights.
Are you using software that gives you a set of standardized reports out of the box, but then gives you more nuanced information along the way? Even that may be acceptable depending on how transparent your SaaS partner is about costs and the level of data they can analyze at once. However, if you have a software vendor that offers each report for a fee, you may not “own” your data.
How hard is it to get a custom report?
Similar to the previous question, operators, agencies and MGAs using third-party software as a service may also have different experiences and expectations depending on the provider.
Some software providers have a bag of generic reports that users can easily generate with the push of a button, while they take care of reports that require more qualification points or nuances. Others charge you per report regardless of how detailed, specific or customized the report needs to be.
Who uses your data and how?
Facebook mines your data for advertisers and engagement. Google uses your data to improve products and influence your decision-making on everything from restaurants to fashion choices. We’ve all guessed the downsides of these unlimited data points. So it goes without saying, if you can’t access your own organization’s data to analyze it, who can? And how do they intend to use it?
If you have to pay through the nose to understand basic behavior about your producers, or generic timelines to complete internal processes, but your compliance SaaS provider has industry-wide data insights to provide, it begs the question: Who really owns your data?
Process data: Once you have it, what can you do with it?
If your answers to the previous questions gave you confidence that you own your data, you should ask yourself if you are using it effectively. When it comes to manufacturer compliance data, we’ve seen effective use cases for carriers, MGAs and agencies to use the data to reveal:
- Paths of least resistance for distribution growth to both vertical and horizontal businesses by analyzing the producer’s LOA
- Which onboarding processes contribute to producer churn and can be targeted for improvement
- Backlogs and ways to manage them via process or team changes
- Compliance gaps
- Areas to increase the efficiency of fee-based services (think unused licenses or meetings for unproductive producers)
Bottom line, if it’s your data, it should work for you. And if you’re an AgentSync customer, it does.
At AgentSync, we have basic reporting built in, including a Scorecard that quickly shows compliance across your entire insurance producer force, directly with our Manage product. And additional reporting costs nothing. You don’t just literally own your data, with AgentSync you OWN your data: You get to decide how to slice and dice it for the best insights to make data-driven business decisions. To see how AgentSync’s suite of products can help you better manage your internal processes and give you insight into your own data, check out our solutions.