Bridging the Divides

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I thought the “great divide” insurers faced was bridging operations and information. Operations – policy administration, billing, claims, producer onboarding and compensation, reinsurance and so forth – kept the business going while information extracted from those functional processes and other sources fueled decisions.

Oh for the good old days.

We really haven’t solved the operational / informational divide but the rapidly emerging Digital Marketplace has uncovered a divide that had always existed but has now taken on more urgency: the divide between structured data and unstructured data.

Structured & Unstructured Data

Structured data we know and sometimes love: numbers, spreadsheets, databases, … But unstructured data is all around us in the insurance value chains including but certainly not limited to:

  •  E-mails from external stakeholders (I’m referring to policyholders, prospects, producers, regulators and reinsurers) to insurance company personnel
  • E-mails within the value chains of the insurance company (from one or more employees to other employees)
  • Phone calls within and between stakeholders whether internally or externally or some combination
  • Policy application forms in some state of completeness
  • Product development forms
  • Claim adjuster forms 
  • Claim adjuster pictures or videos
  • Instant messages
  • Tweets (yes, tweets within and between stakeholders)
  • And, well you get the idea.

This divide must be solved sooner than later. And the solutions rests with understanding the importance of investing in capabilities that enable the insurance company to mix, merge or otherwise blend, and access structured and unstructured data into one coherent data repository … and, of course, be able to visualize the results of the queries in a way that leads to effective and efficient decision-making.

What is your insurance company doing to bridge the structured / unstructured data gap?


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Barry,

    This is a major issue for all corporations. I think the nature of the insurance business – just a massive data processing mechanism, makes it even more so for insurers. As you state, Tweets by employees become part of the unstructured content that must be retained, classified, indexed and stored in a fashion that relates it to other relevant (structured and unstructured) content. And it must be quickly retrievable when it’s needed for business, compliance or legal reasons. It’s a tall order. There’s a number of way to accomplish this technically. The difficult part is convincing executives that all this new unstructured content (blogs, podcasts, video, Tweets, etc.) must be managed, and a comprehensive, well thought through records management policy is the first step in doing it correctly. Oh yeah – and they have to pony up the budget to make it happen.

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