The Dark Side [of Data]
By Pamela Pecs Cytron

The recent results of the U.K.’s “Brexit” vote, and the 2016 U.S. presidential election make one fact blatantly obvious: The value of data should not be based on sheer volume, but on the users’ ability to locate, analyze and utilize data that is specific and useful. Unfortunately for most of the world’s political pollsters, this critical, decision-making and forecasting insight is not so much found in Big Data as in “Dark Data.”

In 2016, pollsters, pundits and campaigns badly forecast important global events due to misplaced trust and false assumptions based on data volume rather than data quality. That said, it seems important to note that not only for insurance businesses, but for businesses across all industries, the reliability of data is only as important as person’s ability to act on it. 

Typically, chief information officers (CIOs) have the best vantage point for seeing the potential of such an abundance of data and these individuals, for the most part, have come to truly appreciate the way in which it can inform decision-making processes. However, insurance company CIOs, in particular, are still deeply concerned about the issue of data accuracy. The bottom line? “Can I rely on the validity of this information for my critical analysis, decisions and actions?”

To say that it doesn’t inspire confidence when CIOs are informed by IT about the multiple, disparate sources involved in delivering data, would be an understatement. How can this important question be answered? “Has this data really been prepared correctly, and can I actually count on it?”

Moving forward into 2017, the potential for change and disruption within the insurance and financial services industries continues to grow, and yet remains to be seen. It seems there is a potential conflict at every turn. Consider: Regulation versus de-regulation, insurance state line restrictions versus open national competition, Dodd-Frank versus Glass-Steagall. The one constant across all of these upcoming issues will be the heavy reliance on data to address each one.  Ultimately, it will be the responsibility of insurance companies, banks and investment management institutions to ensure that the data relied on in this process is timely, accurate and actionable.    

Today, technology solutions are available which can circumvent the roadblocks of legacy systems and provide the capability to address strategic business issues capturing the attention of C-level executives within insurance companies and financial institutions.  Often referred to as “matters requiring attention,” these issues come in many shapes and sizes, including risk-focused, regulatory and compliance-related varieties. 

By leveraging data discovery capabilities available on an outsourced or services basis, many of the problems inherent to the outdated systems and processes of insurance and financial services can be solved within weeks and months as opposed to years. The insurance industry is sitting on a wealth of information which could be gleaned from existing assets if the data could only be exposed safely and securely, and without a large technology footprint or expenditure.

Working in tandem with in-production, customer relationship management (CRM), core administration and general ledger systems, so as not to disrupt the current IT infrastructure environment, insurance and financial services firms can use existing customer or policyholder data to evolve into more efficient, more effective versions of themselves for the future.

Pamela Pecs Cytron is the CEO and founder of Pendo Systems. She can be reached via email for further comment or information at pamela@pendosystems.com

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