I'm fascinated by the common themes that recur across industry sectors whenever issues of data transaction come to the fore. For example, the healthcare supply chain industry is gathering in Dallas and data standards are at the top of their list of concerns. Swap out a couple of the words in this statement and you could be talking about insurance: “The business driver for data standards initiatives is to allow all trading partners to consistently and correctly identify locations and products in business transactions. This ability, largely enabled by standards, immediately increases ordering and fulfillment accuracy and reduces unnecessary costs in rework and reshipments.”
The quote that follows this, from Bruce Johnson, president and CEO of GHX, reminds us that we're in different territory: “Ultimately, improved data accuracy can enhance patient safety by tracking products throughout their journey to the patient bedside.”
But are we really in such different territory? ACORD standards are at work right across the insurance industry, tracking many kinds of journey. The standards used in the London insurance market, for example, ensure that endorsements made to those high-value policies are correctly signed off by all the subscribers. ACORD standards also supply the tracer dye that keeps Joe Public's premium and claim data distinct from other policyholders' as the data passes among business partners.
Those of us who work on the detail of standards can end up thinking of them as containers for information. It's our job to build those containers correctly on behalf of the community we serve. But the immediate business value of those containers is in their shipping. Data standards ensure that communicating parties can understand each other, and collaborate effectively. The mark of a strong standard is not just its efficiency in representing the data of importance to its industry, but its visibility in the industry's value chains.