In preparation for a corporate strategy meeting, a claims executive for Cleveland-based Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) recently embarked on a data-finding mission. The objective: generate specific detail on all company-wide workers' compensation claims associated with railroad-related back injuries filed in Cleveland over a two-year period.Drilling down this deep for information would enable the executive to pinpoint and correct some of the inefficiencies associated with these types of claims. Once exposed, BWC could use the data to reduce its policy loss ratio and pass the savings along to policyholders.

At most insurance companies, a data-seeking endeavor like this is a Herculean task. It invariably means extracting information from disparate databases scattered across multiple corporate divisions. It also requires an IT department to write new software code to unearth data from multiple layers of information stored in various databases. It's a process that often takes weeks or months to complete.

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