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Let Me Hear Your Data Talk

May 29, 2018 | George Freimarck

The 1981 song, “Physical”, by Olivia Newton John contains the repeated line, “Let me hear your body talk”. At the time it was marketed with what was considered a controversial video, in which Olivia shares the screen with some very muscular, scantily clad young men. While the subject of data in the insurance industry might not be quite as controversial as that video, it still ruffles some feathers, particularly as it pertains to:

  1. The proprietary nature of data
  2. The ownership and disposition of data, particularly in SaaS models if the SaaS provider goes out of business
  3. The integration of data and the interfaces with its sources
  4. The fact that most insurance-technology systems and applications were built to receive and process data, not output or analyze it
  5. The fact that, #4 notwithstanding, there’s still much confusion about and distrust of data sciences, even the more mundane practices like ETL, conversion, and BI

Get together

Yet another, slightly older song by the Youngbloods contained some advice to “get together” that might be more rewarding and effective. The insurance industry is notoriously regulated-but-not-standardized. That, however, has as much to do with regulators as anything or anyone else. And there isn’t anything or anyone who’d try to prevent the various interested constituents from getting together to agree on some protocols for the care, handling, analysis, and disposition of data.

Standardization of data has been a holy grail of the insurance industry for a long time. But efforts to achieve standardization have often floundered amidst competitive concerns (see, again, #1 above). A more recent trend is for technologists to find ways to mine disparate data sources and create standard formats insurers and their service providers or partners can use most easily. If we can truly get together on this aspect of data management, we just may find a great deal of time, energy, and concentration could be freed up for more important outcomes… like writing more business, like satisfying more policyholders, like generating more revenue, like achieving more profitability.

If we listen to each other talk, it might be easier to listen to our data talk.

That would be quite the story.

George Freimarck is vice president, business development – Americas at Xceedance.

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