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Mining for Trouble?

This month's editorial on data mining by Katherine Burger, Editorial Director.

Data mining is not considered new among insurance IT executives. Although there is still debate over the effectiveness of existing data mining systems and the ways in which they might be deployed, the technology has been implemented in some form at a considerable number of carriers over the past few years. And while these organizations have reported mixed results at best, the potential benefits are clear. Debate has had more to do with the capabilities of the technology than with the strategic value of being able to gather and analyze all types of customer data for future use in product development,underwriting and cross-selling.

So it's startling to suddenly hear data mining being discussed by politicians, reporters and social activists. Ever since it was announced that the technology would be the foundation of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) project launched by the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to identify potential domestic terrorists, data mining has been a lightning rod for those concerned about individual privacy and civil liberties. In fact, at press time the Senate had voted to ban funding for TIA.

Will worries about the implications of TIA and information sharing, along with the pending requirements of the USA PATRIOT Act, create new obstacles to insurers' efforts to tap into customer data? You can learn more at Insurance & Technology's Customer Service Leadership Forum, April 2, The Roosevelt Hotel, New York City. This one-day conference will assemble experts from organizations such as MetLife, Anthem and TowerGroup to identify best practices and action plans for creating competitive-and secure-customer service organizations. To learn more, e-mail me or visit the event Web site at cslf2/. I hope to see you there!

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & Technology in 1991. In addition to ... View Full Bio

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