The 2016 Data Analytics Seminar, ‘Data is Power’, will be held next Tuesday (13 September). We spoke to Hugh Miller, Actuary at Taylor Fry and one of the speakers for the event, and asked him some questions about what we can expect from the seminar.
You’re presenting at the upcoming Actuaries Data Analytics Seminar, what are some key points in your presentation/ how the workshop will work?
I’ll be involved in the afternoon sessions, which will be interactive laptop-based exercises focused on teaching some modelling techniques on a couple of case studies. I’ll be looking some customer behaviour, where everyone will be competing on their computers to build the best prediction models.
What are the newest exciting insights that ‘big data’ is producing or will produce?
While a lot of big data work is done on selling and marketing, I’m personally excited by some of the other applications. One is better government – using their data so that policy is well targeted and money not wasted. Another is the automation of transport through self-driving vehicles – it will change much about car safety, ownership and our use of time.
In this video (1:05m), Chris Dolman says actuaries have strong grounding for a career in data analytics but need a greater understanding of IT systems and programming languages to succeed in the field – what are your thoughts on this? Is this true, and if so, how are actuaries placed to expand these skills?
Yes, the trend has definitely been that analytics is getting more detailed and ‘lower level’ in terms of needing to be across IT and programming. Moving around large amounts of data at speed means you have to understand what’s going on at a hardware level, and many of the big-data platforms assume the user knows programming. While there’ll always be a place for our more common tools (Excel and SAS), we’ll need to broaden and collaborate. Actuaries have proven skills on the technical and business side, so are well-positioned to contribute.
How do you anticipate the generation of more and more data, and specialists and machines to analyse data, will impact the actuarial profession?
Not sure. Many tasks I do today will be done by machines in the future, so the main question is whether there are enough new higher order tasks to keep me employed. I’m excited by the chance to use more data to improve some of our traditional activities, like reserving.
What do you hope delegates will take away from the Seminar this year?
This is the second seminar we’ve run – the first was very well attended but a lot of the feedback was that people wanted to get deeper into the technical side. This time we’ll have some great talks from a broad range of speakers in the morning and have the hands-on session in the afternoon. Delegates will hear some interesting perspectives and gain real coding experience.
The Seminar has sold out – what are your impressions of the profession’s sentiment towards and appetite for ‘owning’ the data analytics field?
I think lots of people recognise it as a growth area, and a space that isn’t dominated by any particular profession. That means it’s an exciting area to get involved in. I don’t think we’ll ‘own’ the space (there wouldn’t be enough of us even if we wanted to), but there’s plenty of room for us to add value.
We look forward to seeing all delegates at the event, if you don’t want to miss out, register for the online webinar!
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