Friday 28 August 2015

An invite to London and nothing to wear

There are lots of cues and clues to differing cultures across the insurance industry and it’s IT neighbour – one of the most obvious is dress code or at least communal agreement on how one should dress. For a chap in London it should be relatively easy, as the character Harry Hart put it in the film Kingsman, “The suit is the modern gentleman’s armour.” However, recent changes and external influences in London have left me in something of a wardrobe quandary.

For example – the data scientist community and the digital community. I went to the first Strata event in London in my usual suit and tie and swiftly realised that I looked like I a fish very much out of water. Here jeans, t-shirts and the odd tattoo were the order of the day. My most recent visit to the conference I managed to correct my attire although didn’t acquire new tattoos just for the conference (perhaps next year). Oliver Werneyer’s observation at our event in February this year that one needs a good beard to fit in with the start up crowd is also well founded.

Also in London we have Lloyd’s of London with a strict dress code and a requirement for a tie to be worn at all times. More Kingsman territory, clearly one can’t dress for both communities on the same day.

In between we have an increasingly relaxed view of the suit attire or even simply trousers and shirt. Despite having a pretty good collection of ties these are now largely optional (although I still generally carry one around as wearing them varies by client and frankly I quite like wearing a tie to a meeting).

What I don’t have of course is a pocket square – something I rarely have seen adopted before this year (perhaps I wasn’t paying attention) but I’m increasingly seeing a square used to add a splash of colour in the absence of a tie. Thus, we have the title of this post – I have nothing to wear!

Fortunately, London is unlikely to see the weather required for hawaiian shirts and shorts to become the order of the day (albeit I may have something that might fit that bill should it come to pass).

Circling back to culture though, the need to blend these clearly different and shifting cultures together in one organisation is crucial in a modern insurer. Aviva has gone to the extent of creating a digital garage in Shoreditch – the heart of the jeans wearing community, if I may use such a broad brush – to draw in talent to the organisation. Hiscox too has been going to great pains to attract the right talent, along with many other insurers in London seeking to bridge these cultures.

Are you allowing for a varied culture in your organisation? How flexible are you in dress code and working practices across different communities? Have you ever set to preparing for a meeting and realised you simply have nothing to wear? Would love to hear your stories on changing insurance, if only so I know it’s not just me.


from Celent Insurance Blog

Thursday 27 August 2015

KPMG’s revealing survey about cybersecurity and what we can do about it

Some of you may remember my post this spring about the breach of my family’s information by a major health insurer.

I think about that a lot, as I am sure many of you do as well. It feels like we read about another major hack on a daily basis. We now have major governments funding hacks. The perfect is example is the recent breach of the IRS.

This recent health IT survey by KPMG really caught my eye: 81% Of Healthcare Organizations Have Been Compromised By Cyber-Attacks In Past 2 Years.

81%! The survey covered both insurers and providers. I am stunned my mailbox does not overflow with notifications every day, but what concerns me is all of the breaches of which we are still blissfully unaware. It is particularly disconcerting because there are so many rules around patient privacy that we should be able to expect that our information is being managed securely.

It is not.

It would be easy to point fingers at those breached and blame it on their lack of preparation. And I suppose that is true in some cases. It would also be easy to point all the blame where it belongs, on the hackers. The big question for me, though, is what can I do about it?

In short, the answer is not much. I can’t imagine querying an ambulance driver about the information security processes of a hospital. Even if they knew, would you divert to a different hospital based on the answer? Of course not. In a similar fashion, one would be unlikely to change insurers based on information about data security.

But that doesn’t mean customers don’t care about it, and data security is something the audience of this blog can do something about. Regardless of your role in the company, ask some questions. Keep pounding the drum that our industry needs to stop being passive and needs to make the investment, even more investment, in security. We tend to think of the “big breach” as the area to invest, but there are so many more areas on which to focus.

The survey showed that 35% of the respondents had a data breach from their own employees. So when you’re beating the aforementioned drum, make sure to discuss your internal risks too.

As important, if you are in a position to do so, help ensure this is a topic discussed with the CEO of your company. They need to be aware, and be prepared, for the almost inevitable breach. Your company wants to handle it quickly, professionally, and competently. This would be in stark contrast to the insurer mentioned in my previous post, which took 3 ½ months to notify me, and started with my 4-year-old.

In the words of Sergeant Esterhaus in the incomparable ’80s classic Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.”

from Celent Insurance Blog

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Freud in a Box – The Aware Machine

In the week since the release of the Celent report, Machine Intelligence in Insurance: Designing the Aware Machine, I have been involved in several fascinating discussions around a new level of personalization in insurance. An insurer called me to ask if there are any vendors providing intelligent machine services that can analyze social posts of a person and slot them into one of several pre-described personas. It was fascinating to contact some of the vendors involved in the report and find out just how far along they are in using intelligent machines to personalize down to the unit of the individual!

At the same time, my colleague, Zil Bareisis on the Celent Banking team, blogged about a new type of personality test, Personality Insights powered by IBM’s Watson. According to the description of the system, the test “uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more.” Interestingly, it claims to be able to reach conclusions just from a text of 100 words. (Zil’s blog is here: Don’t be surprised if your bank knows not just who but also what you are in the future.)
Following Zil’s lead, I copied an extract from the Aware Machine report into the system to find out what Personality Insights said about me. The results:

You are inner-directed, skeptical and can be perceived as insensitive.
You are imaginative you have a wild imagination. You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. And you are independent.
You are relatively unconcerned with taking pleasure in life: you prefer activities with a purpose greater than just personal enjoyment. You consider achieving success to guide a large part of what you do: you seek out opportunities to improve yourself and demonstrate that you are a capable person.”

After I got over my initial reaction (which was to shout “No! That’s not me!”, especially about the “insensitive” part), my analyst instincts observed that my result contained a great deal of overlap with Zil’s profile. This indicates how broad the analysis is based on such a limited sample. The experience made me want to load a lot of additional data about myself into the system to see how personalized the results could get.

And this is the main take-away for me about these systems – that they are trying to reach areas for which we have not generally applied automation (understanding the personality of our selves/our customers) using unstructured data. More experimentation and refinement will increase the value of both the results and our understanding of how to use them.

from Celent Insurance Blog