The Business Impact of Big Data
Many business executives want more information than ever, even though they're already drowning in it.
A new role is cropping up as insurance companies become more focused on customer experience and try to glean insights from their data on how to improve it.
Forrester analyst Paul Hagen calls this position chief customer officer, a role my colleague Ann All wrote about last year, also referring to it as chief client officer or chief experience officer. But companies are adding Big Data to the mix amid the proliferation of discussions about companies on social sites. An article at Insurance & Technology notes that Radnor, Pa.-based Lincoln Financial named a VP of user experience, Anand Rao, in February 2011, but it also recently created a Consumer Insights Group within its Insurance Solutions/Retirement Solutions division. Emily Pachuta, VP of Consumer Insights, and her six employees use quantitative and qualitative information about consumers in product design and distribution decisions. Pachuta is quoted as saying:
Many companies look why people don't buy insurance or contribute to their retirement plans, but we want to understand who's working with us and why. ... Basically, 90 percent of decision-making is irrational and subconscious, so a deeper understanding of decision-making drivers will help us, as well as financial advisors, better understand the actions that will improve one's financial life.
Also since the beginning of the year, Minneapolis-based Allianz Life has named Lisa Hoene as senior director of market management with responsibility for customer experience and customer intelligence.
In an interview about the responsibility of improving customer experience across channels, former Forrester analyst Bruce Temkin who left to form his own consultancy, told Ann that appointing an executive dedicated to customer service indicated a recognition that improving customer service must be a "cross-functional, transformative effort" rather than a collection of isolated departmental or divisional activities.
It's also an example of the IT-business hybrid role that Foote Partners CEO David Foote talks about. According to Insurance & Technology:
Executives in customer-centric capacities have an opportunity to be "a great ally" with the CIO, [Hagen] notes, because both positions require a view of processes across the company. In fact, one in 10 chief customer officers or equivalent positions at companies Hagen studied for a recent report, The Chief Customer Officer (CCO), 2012, came from IT.
"They both need to engage a lot of other people," he explains. "Companies' tech systems are one of these big albatross kind of things where you can do a lot of process improvement pieces."
My colleague Mike Vizard has written about yet another C-level position being created, that of chief data scientist or officer, to help make data access and retrieval less of "one of those big albatross kind of things."