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Gordon Watson

Gordon WatsonChief Executive Officer of AXA Asia & Africa

4 octobre 2022

What Can Insurers Learn from Football’s Revolution in Data Analytics? A Look at Liverpool FC’s Practices

By embracing data collection and analytics, insurers have the possibility to create innovative products for their customers, mitigate risk and improve their own bottom-line performance.

It has been more than two decades since the famous Oakland Athletics baseball season that ushered in the modern era of statistical analysis in sports management and inspired the book and movie, Moneyball. That 2002 season was when manager Billy Beane showed you could use player statistics to inform team play, gaining an edge on the competition through shrewd data analytics.

It has been just 10 years since Liverpool Football Club hired Ian Graham, a data scientist who holds a PhD in theoretical physics, as Director of Research, with the goal of implementing an analytics program for player recruitment at the club. AXA is proud to be the Official Training Partner of Liverpool FC, one of the most fabled teams in the Premier League and one of the first to embrace data analytics. In the years since Graham’s hire, the team’s purview and use of data has dramatically expanded to include pre- and post-match analysis, sport science, and player development.

In a recent video, we highlighted Mark Stevenson, Research Software Engineer for Liverpool FC, and Marcin Detyniecki, Head of Research and Development at AXA, to get their perspectives on what data means to them and the types of data they use in their areas of expertise. At Liverpool FC, the Research team collects an enormous amount of data, from the GPS positioning and acceleration of the players to the location of the ball during matches to self-assessments of players’ wellbeing and energy levels, and so much more. This rich treasure trove of information, combined with intelligent processing and ongoing innovation in algorithms, is the key to teams’ successful use of data to improve performance over time.

Gyroscopes, heart monitors and other wearables have enabled data scientists to gain insight into the factors that contribute to players’ health and performance, enabling them to potentially avoid injuries and have longer careers. Further advances, according to Stevenson, have even enabled Liverpool FC to track skeletal data for players on the pitch. Pre- and post-match analysis allows teams to evaluate performance and set strategy objectively, capitalizing on their opponents’ weaknesses and maximizing the chances of a win. The team is consistently looking for innovations in both physical technology and artificial intelligence to gain an edge in all aspects of its performance.

What insurers can learn from Liverpool FC’s embrace of data analytics

Simply put, there is immense promise in both the predictive and evaluative power of data to improve performance. Just as wearables have expanded the types of data that teams can collect on their players, innovations in inexpensive, wireless sensors can enable insurers and corporations to monitor more aspects of their businesses and the world than ever.

These types of insights translate well into certain sectors of the insurance industry, such as monitoring building health through analysis of various smart sensors and minimizing the risk of equipment failures and damage, or using customers’ driving history or health data to create insurance packages that maximize value for both insurer and client. Similarly, advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are enabling insurers to automate previously manual functions like claims processing, improving the customer experience and reducing turnaround time all at a lower cost. At the strategic level, Detyniecki says, AXA has now begun using CO2 emissions data to direct our investments and help our corporate clients build a greener future to protect what matters most to all of us: Planet Earth.

A data-rich world

In the near future, we can imagine a data-rich world where the combination of a range of inputs and advanced analytics enables insurers to predict the risk of fires, floods, accidents, and more with near-pinpoint accuracy. With such knowledge in hand, risk pools could be much more narrowly distributed, allowing for reality to be better reflected in customers’ rates and insurers’ costs. This isn’t simply a possibility: it is in fact a necessity. In order to succeed in a more volatile environment, leveraging data and analytics will be essential to understanding risk and helping our customers and communities to reduce damage during catastrophes.

Already, AXA is taking steps that point toward the possibilities of this future. Krungthai AXA in Thailand is developing artificial intelligence to predict policy lapses, having previously used a model to identify potential dead claim fraud. In Indonesia, AXA uses machine learning to predict customers’ behaviour over time, helping identify new business propensity, cross-selling opportunities or to anticipate surrender or lapse. AXA Philippines uses SAS data software to identify initiatives of Inforce Management such as subscriptions to the EMMA app, enrolment to ADA and conversion from a frequent to less-frequent payment mode. In 2019, AXA Hong Kong announced plans to invest over US$28 million in AI, data tools and other relevant technologies, including to improve health outcomes and lower medical costs.  

By embracing data collection and analytics, insurers have the possibility to create innovative products for their customers, mitigate risk and improve their own bottom-line performance. And just like Liverpool FC, we believe that our embrace of data at AXA is leading us to the top of the league, where we both aim to be for years to come.

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