Big Data analytics is having an impact in many areas of industry. In the recent race for the US Presidency, it played a key part in Trump’s success. While the media in the US was consistently predicting a Clinton victory, behind the scenes it is reported the Trump campaign were employing an army of Data Scientists to crunch huge amounts of social media data using Artificial Intelligence (AI) (machine learning techniques) to work out who the marginal voters were. Looking at what people were doing, saying and communicating, they homed in on what key issues were most important for particular individuals, classifying them and then working out what messages they needed to target them with. Whether or not this was decisive is unclear, though it certainly will have had some influence on the numbers and the Trump victory.
Modern analytics allows us to combine large amounts of data from lots of different sources and use machine learning and AI techniques to convert this vast amount of data into meaningful insights to base informed decisions upon. Business Insight has built its own AI machine learning platform called ‘PERSPECTIVE’ to crunch huge amounts of data to produce estimates of risk or likely outcomes. Big data analytics in the insurance industry has a number of benefits for insurers; one of which is helping to understand customers better, others include helping to improve pricing, rating and underwriting through a greater understanding of risk. It can also tease out hidden patterns and provide insights that may otherwise stay hidden.
The amount of data may have increased enormously in recent times though making sense of large volumes of demographic data and pigeonholing people is not something new. A geodemographic classification assigns geographic areas to categories based on the similarities across a vast range of different variables. It is a structured way of making sense of complex and very large socio-economic datasets.
Streets and neighbourhoods can be classified into types such as ‘Affluent Achievers’ or ‘Comfortable Greys’ in wealthy areas through to types such as ‘Breadline & Benefits’ in more deprived areas. The products are based on the assumption that people living in similar housing and sharing similar characteristics across a range of factors relating to age, affluence, family composition and life stage are likely to have similar wants, needs and exhibit similar behaviour.
Geodemographic classifications have been around and used in industry for a very long time. The origins in the UK can be traced back to Charles Booth who analysed the 1891 UK Census and produced a classification of streets throughout London with neighbourhood types such as ‘Lowest Class. Vicious, Semi Criminal’ – not labels that would be palatable nowadays, even if accurate. With the arrival of the computer and as access to large amounts of data increased, we saw the emergence of commercial classifications in the 1970s with PRISM developed by Claritas in the USA and ACORN (A Classification of Residential Neighbourhoods) developed by CACI in the UK. The first versions developed in the 1970s were built from Census data and used by marketing departments to target product offerings more accurately. Since then the complexity, amount of different data sources used and the level of granularity has increased dramatically, as has the number of different commercial uses that the products are used for from advertising and target marketing through to analysing crime patterns and health resource requirements.
There are many different ‘lifestyle’ or ‘neighbourhood’ classifications though most are general purpose, i.e. they have been built with no specific industry or use in mind so can be useful across a range of industry sectors and for a range of purposes. In contrast, the ‘Resonate’ classification developed by Business Insight has been built with the insurance industry in mind. So for underwriting and pricing insurance, Resonate will offer more discrimination than the general purpose systems available in the market. With the ever increasing volumes of data and available computing power, risk models and lifestyle classifications are becoming more focused and more accurate.
With the ever increasing volumes of data and available computing power, risk models and lifestyle classifications are becoming more focused and more accurate. Clever use of data and analytics can give companies a competitive edge, help to ensure you are not selected against and as we have seen, sometimes, lead to surprising results!
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