Over the past 18 years, I’ve had various jobs at Nationale-Nederlanden. In the past ten to 15 years, I’ve been increasingly involved with data. We can do more and more with data. And that’s something you need to convince your organisation of. To begin with, it was a lengthy process. Data is complicated and intangible. It’s difficult to marry data with a business that sells trust and that used to send paper copies of your policy. Now, its’s a pdf landing in the customer’s e-mail inbox, or it will be in the future. And most of the customer communication will be digital. My colleagues, including those at the very highest level, now understand the added value of data. The more digital information our customers share with us, the easier we can make it for them. We don’t need to bother them as often with questions and our proposals, policies and claims handling can be even more efficient.

Using smart data technology, we can prepare so-called What-if scenarios. What is the impact of a storm over the Netherlands on our profitability and solvency? What happens if a Chinese insurer enters the Dutch market and charges half the premium for the same risk? As an architect, I don’t make the models myself. That’s the job of the scientists. But I provide a broad outline and monitor the processes. So, I ask myself what’s the best technology for a project and what legislation we need to consider. Or what are the project costs? But also, what that demands from the organisations in terms of skills and management?

I like creating order from chaos. It’s what makes my work so challenging. I also really enjoy taking account of what the world could look like in seven years’ time, for example, when it comes to privacy and data quality. Because working with data is enjoyable, but people do need to realise what that means. Because who owns the data? How do you know that the quality – a basic condition for using data – is in order? What people do you need now and in seven years’ time for our data housekeeping? What do these people cost? And will those people be available then? It’s my job to make the organisation aware of this type of issue.

Our world is changing rapidly. Now, we’re selling a product. The customer enters his or her data, is given price and decides whether or not to go ahead. We’re doing this in a competitive market, so we’re always looking for the lowest price. But I think that the opposite will be the case in the future. Consumers want peace of mind and are willing to pay something to get it. So, if the customer has a risk that he or she wants to ensure, he or she has a particular price in mind. It’s then up to the insurance company to decide whether or not it wants to take on that risk and at what price. In other words, the consumer decides, more than is currently the case, where he or she spends the money. This has an impact on Nationale-Nederlanden’s business model, in which data and models will play an ever more crucial role.

So, our business is in transition. Customer behaviour and financial services are gradually converging. As a data architect, it’s fantastic to contribute to that development.

Mark van der Veen
Data Architect, Nationale-Nederlanden Non-life & Income