- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Data Governance: Under New Management?

A recent post in SearchContentManagment posed the question: “Is 2015 finally the year of the data governance plan?” Bravely, they also provided their answer: “No.”  While I agree with the logic that led there, I disagree with the conclusion.

I think there is another corporate group that is working on all the components now and could provide the leadership. I’d like your thoughts.

Bigger Data -> Critical information

Accurate data, and tools to mine them them, have become critical for business generally, and insurance specifically. The SearchContent post cited John Mancini, CEO of AIIM, an association of  information professionals, saying that “information chaos” had taken hold in many organizations and eclipsed the capabilities to control  and manage the data everyone needs.

The insurance community is no exception. In a recent Insurance & Technology article, Bassam Zarkout, CTO at technology  provider RSD, notes that all functional components of insurance organizations are dependent on correct data for critical functions.

Both SearchContent and Zarkout say that corporate level data governance is required.  Pretty straightforward, yes?

Then theory meets reality …

Few disagree that governance is required on a number of levels, including  privacy and security; accessibility, and veracity. One major issue is determining: who is the owner?

Insurance & Technology notes that in past, the Chief Information Officer  would own this responsibility.  However, with the rise of cloud computing, new mobile demands, etc., the CIO now seems to be heavily focussed  on infrastructure, leaving  data governance in the  back seat.

The SearchContent post notes that the folks inside organizations who see the issues are not at an organizational level to develop and monitor corporate standards and practices. As a result, the experts are not expecting any resolution in the near term.

“Companies have struggled with these questions for 20 years, and even if they start today, they won’t be done by 2015 — and that’s just the forward-looking ones,”  Laurence Hart, an independent information management consultant said in the SearchContent post.

So, where is the sheriff to tame this particular frontier?

I think that this sheriff might be working in Marketing.  I can’t speak about other industries, but in insurance, Marketing has the broad understanding of all of the facets of an insurance organization  and have a mandate that necessitates access to good quality data and the use of tools to correctly interpret the data.

A number of insurance organizations are looking to marketers to bring disparate parts of the organization around data points that could drive new opportunities and improve profitability.  The marketers therefore have access to strategic data and understand the nuances of each of the user areas.

There has also been a change in thinking about the focus on the end consumer.  Until recently, insurers who relied on the independent distribution system were reluctant to gather detailed information about the end-consumer’s demographics, preferences, attitudes, etc., thinking that this would alienate brokers.

This seems to have been resolved by better awareness by brokers that insurer marketing is really just helping them and by a more structured marketing  mandate.

What are your thoughts?

I’d appreciate your comments on this.  I’ve talked to a few marketers who are more than capable, but feel a bit intimidated by IT. I’ve also talked to IT folks who are welcome to have a marketer taking a leadership role with data governance.

Let me know.  And stay tuned for a discussion at the 2015 Executive Forum in Toronto this August.