A common challenge in every sector is figuring out who should take the lead in industry data standards. The global insurance industry made the wise decision to create ACORD to take this role. People across the industry recognized standards were in the interests of the whole community and wanted a commonly owned, volunteer based organization to take standards forward.
Insurance was lucky because the interconnected nature of the business is understood by all the players. Companies compete, but they also need common structures and protocols.
Where should we look for data standards leadership in a domain like connected cars? The answer doesn't leap out. There are many diverse interested parties but no encompassing culture, as there is in insurance. Vehicle manufacturers don't have much existing business with traffic management authorities, for example. And although insurers are leading the way in generating and exploiting telematics data, insurance isn't the obvious area to look for leadership across the whole connected car piece. Sure, we have the expertise and a big interest – but other types of organization might have just as great a claim.
So let's look for an alternative way of discovering candidates for leadership. I like what I hear in recent comments by Ashley Sowerby, managing director at Chevin, a fleet management company. Sowerby is voicing questions about connected car data ownership, access – and standards – when few others seem to be. He sees these questions as complex and pressing. And he's thought them through: “There are all kinds of arguments to consider. For example, if there had been public access to the environmental performance of fleet cars, then the recent diesel emissions scandals would probably not have remained hidden for so long. However, there will also be parties who want to keep close control over their data for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from basic concerns over information security through to less open-handed motives.”
It's Sowerby's position as a fleet manager that gives him this perspective. Chevin has operational data on more than 850,000 cars under its management. Fleet managers know more about cars in the wild than anyone else. They're in the car data business.
Absent a pre-existing industry culture around the value of data, we need to look for the operational data specialists within any domain. These are the natural data standards leaders. This is not to say they should get to dictate data standards for the community. It's to recognize that the folks with the clearest, broadest, and deepest appreciation of the value of the domain's data are well placed to lead the community in creating standards which will benefit everyone. Fleet World