Breathing life insurance into data

By Anna Game-Lopata — Content Writer | 8 Oct 2018
  • Claims
  • Life Health and Retirement Income
  • Insurance Broking
  • Risk Management
Steve Millward

Steve Millward has been interested in data and analytics since he was very young.

‘I was coding on home computers from the age of 12, and then I did a lot of statistics through school and university,’ he relates.

‘It’s always felt natural and logical to me. I’ve always found the problem-solving process in analytics to be very satisfying, so it’s been a great career choice.’

Millward spent a lot of his career in corporations, where ‘it can take a long time to drive any change’. But after becoming involved in an e-commerce business with Westfield, he developed an appetite for getting things done more rapidly.

Rapid growth of Data Republic

In 2015, he became a founding member of Data Republic, a data sharing governance platform that allows organisations to share and license data safely, without risking consumer privacy or data security.

‘Data Republic’s unique vision and technology hooked me straight away,’ Millward enthuses.

‘It’s been incredible to see the business grow the way it has.’

Founded in 2014, the Sydney-based data technology company revolutionises data sharing between organisations.

Its Senate Platform provides comprehensive legal, governance and licensing workflows for companies when sharing data.

‘With Data Republic’s technology, organisations can share data with confidence that commercial risk is controlled and that information is de-identified to protect individual privacy,’ Millward explains.

Since launching in 2016, Data Republic has seen a rapid adoption of its technology by major Australian brands and service providers including banks, retailers, state governments and airlines.

Millward says Data Republic’s technology now underpins a fast-growing network of over 200 organisations in Australia, Singapore, the US and New Zealand that leverage the governance framework and technology as an emerging standard for secure data sharing, globally.

Case study

As an example of how Data Republic supports its data sharing, Millward points to a banking industry client who identified that opportunities to drive growth through data collaborations were being missed.

‘Like many others we’ve helped, [the bank] was unsure how to manage sharing highly sensitive data without risking legal complications or a data breach,’ Millward says.

‘Concerns around how data would be used, stored, shared and destroyed resulted in uncertainty and inaction.’

The bank needed a way to give authorised parties access to data without releasing it and to have confidence that any data shared would be used for the intended purposes only.

The organisation deployed Data Republic’s Senate platform to govern data collaboration and commercialisation activities with external parties.

Millward says the outcome was a complete transformation in the way the bank utilises data.

‘Internal analytics projects have been accelerated, revenue from data assets has been generated and innovation through new partnerships has been augmented,’ he says.

Happy customers

Within 12 months of deploying the Senate platform, the bank has created more than 12 new data partnerships, plus over 300 workspaces containing bank data provisioned for analysis, and put eight new start-ups through an accelerator aiming to solve banking problems with data.

‘In addition, risk management capabilities are stronger,’ Millward says.

‘Senate provides a data sharing control centre with an approved process for requesting data and a comprehensive audit trail for all data licensing. All data uploaded to the platform is anonymised so that customers’ personal information is protected.

‘For our banking client, the simplified legal framework boosted productivity, with new requests being processed in days rather than months.

‘This has resulted in a reduction of working hours and an increase in new data-driven value creation being explored.’

In addition, Milward says over 30 organisations from a range of industries have benefited from insights gained from the bank’s data.

‘Fifteen data products have been developed and launched through more than 12 new partnerships forged on the Senate platform.

‘Four government insight projects have been undertaken using licensed anonymised bank transaction data for modelling and policy.

‘Meanwhile, over six data-for-good meetups and two university datathons have used the bank’s licensed data,’ he says.

Life insurance application

But how will this help life insurers?

Millward says life insurance data is very rich and valuable — but only at the time a customer takes out a policy.

‘Like much data in insurance, it ages and becomes less valuable over time as policyholders’ lives change. Data is really a raw material for decision-making, so poor data can lead to poor decisions.’

He asserts that life insurers need to focus on accessing streams of data about their customers at an aggregate and portfolio level to keep up to date on the risk they are insuring. Data insights can also help life insurers create new, innovative products and services for customers that are currently not available.

‘We are seeing increased interest from life insurers aiming to proactively manage their clients with greater ties into lifestyle and healthcare products,’ he says. 

‘But the main challenge for life insurers is finding the balance between protecting privacy, providing choice to customers and enriching insight into customer experiences using external data sources.’

The compliance factor

Millward also says that governing and managing this data needs to be transparent, with an auditable record of data flowing in and out of the organisation.

‘Remaining compliant with new privacy regulations, such as the GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], while realising the true potential of the data in this economy is the test here.’

In addition, Millward observes three external drivers currently affecting the data industry’s ability to determine its own agenda.

Firstly, regulation is increasing, as evidenced by the introduction of the GDPR and mandatory reporting of breaches.

‘Secondly, boards and executive teams are seeing data as a competitive advantage and are pushing hard to ensure its value is maximised.’

Thirdly, consumers now have greater expectations for how companies will use their data to drive personalised services, and Millward says this will lead to greater use of data in life insurance.

‘But it will require a greater level of governance and control,’ he says.

‘This means that each time data is used, there must be agreement that its use is permitted so that companies can be accountable to their customers and other stakeholders.’

At the tipping point

As a speaker at this year’s Life Insurance Breakfast, Millward will argue his conviction that we are at a tipping point where companies need to embrace the use of data from other organisations to obtain a competitive advantage.

‘The companies that remain inward-looking by sticking to their own data rather than gaining an understanding of customers by working with others will be the ones that struggle,’ he asserts.

‘We are seeing this transformation happen with companies in Australia, Asia and the US. As William Gibson said, “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed”.’

Meet Steve Millward at the 2018 ANZIIF Life Insurance Breakfast

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