Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Single Data Standard

For as many years as I can remember the insurance industry has had a dream - a goal - of having a single data standard for all insurance information. It seems every publication and every convention or conference pushes this dream. I want to argue that the dream is making everyday worse and worse for the insurance industry. I believe that the dream of a single unifying data standard is creating harm by encouraging the industry to deny reality and as such fail to move forward.

My second favorite episode of the TV show X-Files was the one where Mulder found a genie and was granted three wishes. He wished for world peace and was instantly the only person left alive on Earth. The Genie smiled and commented the only way for humans to not have disagreements was for there to be only one human. (My favorite X-Files episode was the one where the villain got away through an exploding chicken house and Mulder - covered with chicken shit - told Sculley he was pooped.)

If you accept the premise - which is the current cold, hard truth - that there is no single data standard, how can the sharing of information be made more efficient? Certainly there are answers of things which can be done but do not include changing to a single data standard.

By holding out for the dream of perfection this industry is avoiding making any progress at all. Why not find ways to make things 60% better instead of taking no action unless it is the dream of making them 100% better?

What do you think could be done?

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