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The Real Problem With Data Governance

Robert Regis Hyle | July 14, 2014

I believe the problem insurance carriers have with data governance is simple: It’s the title. Governance brings with it a set of baggage that scares business leaders more than a Louis Vuitton price check. Perhaps if we had a better term instead of governance, management types wouldn’t roll their eyes and think, as Copelind Group’s Dan Colarusso told me this week, “Another methodology?”

Of course, if carriers had been collecting and configuring data in a consistent manner for more than the last five months, governance wouldn’t be such an issue, would it? But many of them they haven’t so data governance, whether they like it or not, is a necessary evil.

SMA’s Denise Garth wrote elsewhere on this website that data and information are the new currency in the digital world. Data has always been seen as the lifeblood of the industry, but its strategic value is at the forefront in the new digital world.

“What is holding insurers back are the lack of a data management strategy and a deficient level of data mastery maturity,” writes Garth. “Both strategy and mastery will be needed in ample supply to unlock the full business value of data, whether transactional, unstructured, internal, or external.” 

Call it whatever name you want, but data governance has become a serious issue for insurers looking to uncover the hidden pearls within the sizeable chunks of information they have been collecting for decades.

In a recent research report on data governance, Celent’s Karlyn Carnahan points out: “Data is spread across a wide variety of applications, and data ownership is most often shared across the business and IT. Carriers report cultural resistance to understanding data issues, which makes it harder to find sponsors for data governance initiatives.”

It sounds like education is the first step for everyone to take. If business users don’t understand the value of collecting data in a consistent manner and the value they can achieve from this effort the carrier will never fully realize the benefits.

Once again, we are back to culture. Breaking the barrier in this case should be easier. The reason business users can’t collect and process data the way they’ve done it in the past is because the carrier receives little value from those efforts and everyone needs to believe that what they do for their company is of great value.


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