“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Peter Drucker
You have a vision for your brokerage. As you evaluate your options to match your future reality to that vision, data will be the one constant in any path you choose. Data serves as the cornerstone of any strategy you decide to implement.
But do you have a strategy for your data?
As Peter Drucker wisely stated, your future doesn’t have to be a mystery. Instead, you can decide where your brokerage will be in one, five, and even ten years. However, you will likely find every other initiative will be riddled with fits and starts without establishing an effective data strategy.
After all, data is any organization’s truth. Faulty, incomplete, or duplicate data will summarily sideline a company’s ability to progress. Now is the time to design your data strategy for 2024.
Identifying Data for Specific Goals
Just talking about data in isolation holds little value. To harness the true potential of data, it is essential to define specific goals tailored to your brokerage's needs. These goals serve as guiding lights, steering your data strategy toward meaningful outcomes.
Goals come in all sorts of flavors, including:
Innovating new products
Refining claims processes
Streamlining client intake procedures
Enhancing risk management protocols
Establishing automated cross-selling programs
Creating a more personalized client experience
Each goal you set becomes a target that will shape the trajectory of your data strategy. Without specific (and measurable) goals, any data strategy will be nothing more than a glorified cleanup exercise.
Mapping the Journey of Data
It is too easy to simply think of data as a bunch of ones and zeroes. Instead, data is much more akin to a flowing river of information. Understanding how data enters, circulates, and exits this river offers a granular view of what is really happening underneath the hood of your business.
Your organization’s data journey can be broken down into four key components. Each component can be dissected and improved to bring greater efficiency and speed to your clients, vendors, and employees.
The journey begins with data acquisition. This involves various means, such as intake questionnaires and website forms, that establish the foundation for robust data collection. It is here where data integrity begins, setting the tone for how data will be managed throughout its lifespan within your company.
Efficient data storage, comprising proper tagging and labeling for easy retrieval, is essential to making data accessible. When deadlines aren’t met, effective dates are missed, or tasks become overdue, often it is due to improperly stored data. The right data storage solutions directly translate into increased speed of operations.
Effective data analysis hinges on easily retrieving well-organized data, presenting it in a digestible format for stakeholders, and facilitating informed decision-making. Analysis usually comes in the form of reports, and having systems in place to regularly prepare and update reports at the right time keeps brokers ahead of the competition.
Implementing a data strategy that will have the desired results requires dedicated champions. Appoint a data evangelist within your brokerage. This individual does not necessarily have to understand the technical workings of data, but rather its importance and the respect to keep your brokerage adhering to defined data governance principles.
Additionally, brokers need to select the right data projects to pursue. Not all projects will have enough merit to provide the needed resources to support them. On the other hand, transformative projects will require every team member's buy-in, especially those within your C-suite.
Remember, a data strategy is not a one-time event, but a living, breathing entity that thrives on continuous optimization. Refining processes, streamlining workflows, and embracing new technologies will keep your data strategy agile and effective.
Immediate Value, Long Term Vision
Many perceive data strategies as monumental undertakings, daunting mountains to climb. In reality, the path to data-driven success is paved with numerous "small wins," stepping stones to greater heights.
Imagine liberating your team from the drudgery of manual report generation with automation. Or picture a data-driven lead scoring system that identifies the most promising opportunities, allowing you to focus on strategic conversions, not aimless prospecting.
Automating reports: Eradicate repetitive tasks, immediately adding value to your brokerage's operations by lowering staff overhead and increasing speed for your team members.
Streamlining Customer Onboarding: Efficient onboarding processes enhance the customer experience and showcase immediate value while providing the organization with operational improvements.
Tailored Communication Strategies: Customizing communication strategies based on data insights improves client engagement, increases retention, rounds out accounts, and generates more referral opportunities.
Continuous Data Strategy
The idea that your data strategy is always a work in progress has already been mentioned a couple of times above. It is that important.
Your data strategy should be a dynamic, evolving process within your brokerage—a continual journey toward increased efficiency and effectiveness. Brokers with such an approach gain a substantial advantage over the competition. But even the largest brokerages require outside assistance to make this happen.
When searching for the right partner, it is important to seek out those with industry expertise, scalability, and a collaborative approach. The days of monolithic solutions are over. Today requires the right balance between experience and agility to help you leverage a data strategy that keeps you ahead of the competition.