Voices from Accenture Public Service

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The old adage of “garbage in, garbage out” has long held true for the effectiveness of pension organizations’ IT systems. But in a world where data is becoming the critical resource and is available in ever-greater volumes and from a far wider range of sources than ever before, ensuring data’s accuracy and truthfulness is non-negotiable for pension and retirement agencies. The potential impacts from “bad” data could be near-catastrophic.

Data Veracity, one of the trends in the 2018 Accenture Technology Vision, examines the way in which inaccurate and manipulated information threatens to compromise the insights organizations rely on to plan, operate, and grow. Unverified data is a new type of vulnerability, and one that every pension organization deploying digital technologies must address. As autonomous, data-driven decision-making increases across pension systems – from contact centers to investment management and from member services to actuarial models and fund design, ensuring the veracity of data must be a top priority.

The challenge of data verification is made even more difficult by the proliferation of sources and types of information that agencies must use to deliver effective and responsive services to members. Internal data is of course still critical, but with data also coming from members, ecosystem partners, other third parties (trusted or otherwise), social media and advertising channels, pensions organizations have their work cut out to exclude false, misleading and even malicious information from infecting their systems.

With this in mind, our research shows that there is a lot of work to be done here. Looking at the insurance industry, for example, 26 percent of senior executives say that they only validate their data sources “to some extent”. And while 19 percent say that they try to do this, they remain unsure of the quality of the data on which they rely.

Every area of a pension or retirement agency depends on data. This means every employee, from top to bottom, has an important role to play in ensuring data veracity. It starts with senior management acknowledging the centrality of this issue then putting in place an active plan to address all data sources and covering risks, including external manipulation and vulnerabilities from data exchange. So, anyone who collects or uses information – from whatever source – must be aware of the responsibilities they have. Validating data is no longer a function confined to IT. It must be an enterprise-wide undertaking and it’s not a “one and done” process. Keeping data clean throughout its life in the organization requires constant vigilance and rigorous controls.

So, how is your contact center staff checking the identity of the people they speak to? Do you have a process to follow up a member reporting a change in their financial circumstances? How confident are you that bad third-party information is not infecting your systems? Being able to answer questions like these (and many others) is fundamental for pension organizations to successfully travel on their digital journeys. Everything pension and retirement agencies seek to achieve depends on data veracity. It’s an interconnected world. And data is the oil that keeps everything running smoothly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please get in touch or leave a comment below.

To learn more, visit www.accenture.com/pension and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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