I attended an interesting webinar by Golden Source (www.thegoldensource.com) today about Solvency II. Solvency II is a huge pan-European insurance regulatory framework that is going to be implemented over the next few years.
Not unexpectedly, definitions came up. The point was made that an insurer has to not only know what its definitions of concepts are, but also definitions used by its partners. For instance, an insurance company may utilize the services of many asset managers (as part of its overall investment activities). For Solvency II purposes, the insurance company must know what its definition of e.g. "Country of Risk" is, and also how each of its Asset Manager partners defines "Country of Risk".
This is an important point. Data managers often only look within the enterprise when it comes to definitions. Yet there can be compelling reasons to track the definitions that are used by other organizations which the enterprise interacts with.
I have noticed that when I bring this point up, some colleagues think that reason to do this work is to figure out which definition is "right". However, the practical need is for semantic interoperability, not arguing about correctness of a term. We need to understand definitions used by our partners as a first step to integrating data they send to us. Therefore we have a requirement to track the definitions used by our partners. An interesting challenge, but one clearly highlighted by the requirements of Solvency II.