Self-service analytics: the key to unlocking the value of big data

By Charles Caldwell | 30 July 2015

Today, it’s almost unthinkable that you would run any business without data - even the smallest organisation can easily collect and analyse data to better understand what they are doing well and what they need to change. But data is only one component of effective decision making.

Traditional planning, reporting and analysis, such as operational reporting and financial statements, are the tip of the business opportunity iceberg when it comes to analytics.  The numbers used in these operational reports represent a tiny percentage of the quantitative data that exists within an organisation – moreover, these reports are usually produced by and for only a small percentage of employees.

Big data has the potential to be different. Business data has been available from our core operational systems for years.  Big data provides tools to unlock not just business data, but also the human and machine data, transforming the way all employees access relevant data to make a difference to your business – and this access is key.

The fact is, big data doesn’t solve any ‘real world’ problems. It provides capabilities that can be applied to real world problems. People solve problems. If organisations think about the potential big data offers only in terms of technology, then they will be missing the key to success. One thing that we hear consistently in our conversations with companies is that everyone, including IT and business users, are hungry for self-service analytics. Beyond the data – what our customers are looking for is access to big analytics.

Financial services workers know the frustrations of trying to pursue a creative idea or look for new or interesting patterns in a data set. They quickly realise that to follow a train of thought, additional or different data sources are needed to slice and dice the data in different ways, to model and remodel – and it’s not scalable to expect IT to respond to each and every one of these requests.

In fact, findings from our 2014 State of Self-Service Business Intelligence report found 93% of business users want access to self-service tools. Implementing and configuring big data platforms is no walk in the park, but this is where IT can really help transform the raw data materials that can drive an organisation’s analytical capabilities. The report shows that respondents report an average reduction of 37% in requests from business users by implementing self-service analytics.  This significant saving is a real bonus to hard pushed IT teams – allowing them more time to work on strategic initiatives such as big data programmes.

So what new insights can financial services businesses look forward to by giving more people access to new and different types of analytics? For one, it can improve security and compliance by detecting suspicious patterns and preventing fraudulent behaviour.

The insurance industry, which contributes £25 billion to the UK’s national output, estimates that it is facing £1.3 billion of detected fraud and estimates that a further £2.1 billion will go undetected.  Unsurprisingly, this is high on the UK Government’s agenda as it seeks to make the UK a destination for the insurance industry – creating the Insurance Fraud Taskforce in January of this year. 

The way we have processed insurance claims has not evolved significantly despite the digital age, but innovative companies are now finding ways to use technology to not only ensure the validity of claims, but also to cut costs for insurance companies and deliver faster, more consistent claim management for customers.

By giving mobile devices and analysis tools to claims assessors that allow them to take photographs and videos of accident sites and vehicle damage, they can more accurately and consistently assess damage and arrange repair quotations, whilst maintaining a clear audit trail to reduce fraud.  This information can be combined with existing accident databases and claim histories to look for patterns that can inform risk management and future policy planning.

Big data may be a concept but if it helps organisations to create more analysis, employees are not just data consumers – and the real value of big data will become a business reality.

By Charles Caldwell, Senior Director, Global Solutions Engineering, Logi Analytics

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