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With data playing such an influential role in all aspects of business, insurers are looking at finding increasingly innovative ways to gain valuable insights.
According to Gartner, a context broker is a service designed to gather reachable context data of a variety of types, sources, and velocity. It then applies conditioning, integration, rules, and analytics to derive the reduced prepared context data, actionable at a point of business decision by a system or a human.

Formal definition aside, context brokering boils down to more effectively utilising all the data sources at the disposal of a company and extracting specific knowledge from it. And while this might be confused with data analysis, it [context brokering] should be viewed as a niche subset of it.

Extreme customisation

Its believed that it's evolution into a separate market segment of analytics was driven by the value that it unlocks. In a sense, it is data analytics applied to provided information targeted at specific individuals, triggered by events in the life of the person.

A context brokering service will therefore continuously collect data, work on different algorithms to contextualise the meaning of certain data nodes, and turn it into meaningful information. Already, the insurance industry is moving towards a space where it provides clients with a more unique offering, based on personalised underwriting. In the omni-channel world, an insurer also wants to provide a personalised interaction experience. Contextualised information, as derived from context brokering, is a critical enabler to provide this level of service on a large scale.

But are South African insurers ready to take this next step of data analysis?

Users expect good service delivered timeously over the channel of their choice. And in addition to a personalised experience they expect, wherever possible, a personalised product. Insurers must therefore meet this need or lose their relevancy to the emerging disruptive entrants in the market.

Depending on the product lines, different market segments have different expectations in this regard. However, the expectations exist and they are evolving. As with most markets, there are early adopters, and laggards, but the reality is that few South African insurers are ready for the era of context brokering.

Changing approach

Insurers have extremely valuable data and information sets. However, the typical dataset that a life insurance organisation has about a client, is devoid of any real-world context. For example, it might know that a client skipped a premium, but have no context around what the possible related events are.

By enriching their own datasets with context data, they can utilise this information to create personalised information and a uniquely tailored experience. With context brokering, much focus is placed on using context to enable an insurer to target a specific person. This can be used to augment information for their business intelligence and analytics space, which will, in turn, help them understand trends and perform better predictions.

As organisations move towards the digital world, they need to cater for known and unknown users. With the latter, the insurer can combine trends from its own data with context brokered information to understand the behaviour and interests of those unknown online users.

A brave new world

The benefits to be derived from context brokering are too good to ignore. For the customer, it means getting a personalised experience and offerings that are tailored to his or her specific needs. And for the insurer, this means providing a more streamlined and innovative value proposition.

While there are some immediate advantages to be had, extracting value from data should be considered a journey and not an event. It is a long-term process that will fundamentally change the way the insurer operators in the years to come. However, it is vital to start on this journey sooner rather than later or risk falling too far behind.

JC Oberholzer is the Chief System architect for Rubix Digital Solutions, subsidiary of SilverBridge Holdings.
Technology

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