To the casual observer, data warehousing may appear to be strictly a technology initiative. In reality, it's an undertaking that demands a close synergy between a company's business and IT leaders.The inability to realize this has doomed many warehousing ventures to obsolescence in the insurance industry. "Business leaders must define the data needs of the organization," says Jack Gohsler, senior vice president for Hartford, Conn.-based Conning & Co. "The fact that IT and business leaders have very different skill sets and points of view has made such partnerships very challenging for many companies."
Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Insurance Co. is one of the few carriers that has recognized the magnitude of the close partnership that must exist between IT and business to get a warehousing initiative off the ground.
"When we did the prototype for both our auto and property data warehouse, we took one of our best actuaries to serve as what I call a 'translator' to enable our IT people to understand the needs of business users, and demonstrate the ease of data warehousing," says Jim Wellman, director of MIS for the personal lines business at Travelers. "We took six months of that actuary's professional life because we felt we needed more detailed information. It was essential to have business sponsorship in order to explain to the various business units the benefits of data warehousing."
The input from a Travelers' actuary and other business executives helped the Travelers' team craft a warehousing program that takes into account the needs of the businesses that exist across the enterprise.
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