Data silos not only create obstacles to effective operations, but can also directly affect your bottom line. Listed below are five common issues associated with siloed data and ways to avoid them.
1. Creates a dependency on inefficient external reporting applications
Multiple platform architecture complicates the reporting process. While third-party reporting tools can be used to analyze data across multiple systems and produce unified reports, there are costs incurred. Forrester reports that nearly half of all data professionals spend at least as much time prepping data as they do analyzing it. This inefficiency worsens in cases where reporting reveals a need to modify how data is captured or organized, forcing analysts and IT resources to trace data all the way back to its original source and then make changes.
In some cases, third-party reporting tools can also create a gulf between those who master the reporting technology and those seeking answers from the reports. In a recent interview, Christopher Ittner, chair of the accounting department at The Wharton School, discussed how this division affects the business process:
“What we are finding is that in a lot of companies, there are great data scientists and great business people but what is missing is business people who know enough data analytics to say, ‘Here is the problem I would like you to help me with.’ And then they can take the outcome from the data scientists and see how they can best leverage it. That is where we must get to in the next couple of years if we want to take advantage of the digital technologies.”
Providing users with direct access to reporting that requires no prep work solves both issues. End users can become their own data analysts and answer the business questions that apply to their work. Without the requirement to master the technical process of assembling, scrubbing, and joining data from multiple systems, reporting becomes more efficient, effective, and scalable.
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Insurance carriers that rely on multiple-vendor application stacks to manage core functions such as policy management, billing, and claims administration may be placing limits on the strategic advantage IT departments can offer. As the number of supported vendors increases, more IT resources are forced to focus on managing application stacks rather than identifying and developing competitive technological advantages.
An Ivanti survey analyzed in The CIO’s Conundrum: Can IT Move From ‘Keep the Lights On’ to Creative Thinking? underscores the tension between maintenance and innovation. “In this survey, what became crystal clear was the counterbalancing of maintaining essential IT services with the desire to be bold and to act as a creativity dynamo.” Matthew Smith, President, Demand Generation at IDG Communications, notes that the survey results indicate that organizations “need to liberate their CIOs to think ahead of the curve rather than obsess over day-to-day operations. But today IT is all too often still regarded as a support function or information leaders are too stretched to drive competitive differentiation.”
Sandra Gittlen writes in Whittle down application sprawl, “out-of-control application stacks can jack up costs, introduce vulnerabilities, add to infrastructure complexity, jeopardize licensing and waste staffing resources.” This pulls resources toward the maintenance side of the spectrum and away from the strategic side. Glitten concludes, “IT’s value is not in supporting technology, but in understanding the business and using technology to achieve business goals.”
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When insurance carriers undertake the process of upgrading critical IT systems, project timelines can drag on for years. Such a long project not only is disruptive and daunting, but also poses considerable risks. An analysis of a Gartner survey on the root cause of failed IT projects indicates, “[B]y ensuring that projects are kept small, and as a rule of thumb, not exceeding six months in duration, a much lower failure rate can be achieved.”
What contributes to longer implementations?
While every implementation faces a unique set of challenges, there are several common factors that can push out the go-live date.
A multi-vendor architecture, layered with isolated legacy systems and a patchwork approach to quick fixes, breeds a complex environment where any change may be difficult. The Cognizant white paper Reducing IT Complexity to Accelerate Digital Business notes, “IT complexity has become a critical imperative — requiring businesses to fundamentally rewire and simplify their IT estate.”
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It’s not exactly a secret: Regardless of size or industry, every organization stands to benefit from using automation technology to cut down on repetitive, time-consuming administrative tasks. More than simply speeding up a process or getting people to work faster, automating administrative tasks yields value by freeing up employees to focus on the aspects of their job that really matter and provide value.
Automation is wonderful. Except when it isn’t.
As covered in Behind the Hype of Robotic Process Automation (RPA), businesses can run into issues by rushing to reduce costs and improve productivity through automating processes without first evaluating their effectiveness and necessity. The benefits of automating repeatable, administrative tasks can also be lost if automation technology is too difficult to use. The result? Time that could be used performing more high-value activities winds up spent managing software.
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Data Breach Today offers predictions in What’s Ahead for Health Data Privacy, Security in 2019? While the article focuses primarily on health data, a few key trends apply more broadly and are likely to resonate with all types of organizations.
Prediction: Disruption from regulatory changes is likely
Rebecca Herold, author of 19 books on information security and CEO of The Privacy Professor consultancy, begins the list of predictions by examining the potential for agency updates to HIPAA. “Based on continued pressure from local, state and federal government agencies, law enforcement, researchers and others to ease the sharing of patient and mental health data by removing the need to obtain patient consent, I expect to see OCR issue proposed HIPAA updates,” she notes.
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For risk and safety professionals, the new calendar year brings with it a renewed focus on improving their organization’s culture of safety. Whether looking to put a new safety program in place, make wholesale changes to an existing program, or build upon previous successes, many organizations face the challenge of ensuring that their employees are fully participating in safety efforts.
A recent EHS Today article takes a look at a potential solution for involving people across an organization in this process: safety assessments.
How safety assessments differ from safety audits
To Build Safety Culture, You Must Get People Talking provides an overview of a 2018 Safety Leadership Conference session — “Distracted Drivers R US — Assessment RX for Success” — led by Walter Fluharty, vice president of EHS and organizational development at Ohio-based Simon Roofing.
Where static surveys may be seen as yet another safety-related requirement, focus group-based assessments followed by the completion of self-assessments are more likely to drive engagement and add value.
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One of the Claims Journal’s most popular articles of 2018 covered the Altus report that investigated the possibility of Amazon entering the claims management sector. The fact that Amazon tried to poach employees from Lemonade and recruit for a new product manager position certainly provided enough circumstantial evidence to fire up the rumor mill.
The report highlights some of the advantages Amazon brings to the table. The customer-facing infrastructure — from Alexa and Echo devices to an online juggernaut offering an expansive consumer marketplace and digital media center — is unlike anything currently in the insurance space. In addition, Amazon Home Services, which offers on-demand repairs and potential assistance with installing large replacement goods; its array of supported smart home devices; and its direct access to customer purchase history make the company poised to completely transform the claims management process.
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This post was originally published on Risk Management Monitor.
Regardless of whether or not their organizations operate in states where the use of Official Disability Guidelines (ODG) has been adopted/mandated, risk managers can often leverage ODG data and the claim data from their risk management information systems (RMIS) to benchmark the medical and lost-time components of their workers compensation costs against national averages.
With its origins dating to 1995, ODG (www.mcg.com/odg) provides “unbiased, evidence-based guidelines” and analytical tools designed to “improve and benchmark return-to-work performance, facilitate quality care while limiting inappropriate utilization, assess claim risk for interventional triage, and set reserves based on industry data.”
The following are some ways risk managers can use ODG data in conjunction with their existing risk information tools to drive improvements in their workers compensation case management and achieve greater precision in loss reserve practices.
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Origami Risk’s 2018 User Conference, held last week, utilized a new format that not only placed a premium on client presentation of use cases, but also focused on digging into “how” presenters managed to implement their specific solutions. Listening to a diverse set of cases, several common trends emerged.
1. Transparency is key
Many of those presenting echoed the need to establish transparency and accountability in their processes. You can’t measure what you can’t see, and you can’t improve what you don’t measure. The most obvious culprits were paper-based procedures—everything from workplace safety “coaching cards,” to incident intake reports. Spreadsheet-centric workflows, such as data-heavy values collection efforts, also failed to identify the “who, what, when, and where” type of information required to make any process fully transparent.
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The importance of establishing a near miss culture is clear. The OSHA and National Safety Council Alliance, a cooperative program, puts it this way: “History has shown repeatedly that most loss producing events (incidents), both serious and catastrophic, were preceded by warnings or near miss incidents. Recognizing and reporting near miss incidents can significantly improve worker safety and enhance an organization’s safety culture.” Effective near miss programs can prevent more serious incidents from occurring.
A previous post highlights some of the challenges surrounding this issue. Fear of reprisal or embarrassment, difficulty in the reporting process, and a sense of futility if reports don’t result in tangible changes. Each challenge presents obstacles when trying to establish a near miss culture.
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