The Degradation of Obits

newspaper stacks with obituaries

Daily Processing 

Thanks to the Chief Technology Officer, David Wiley, LifeStatus360 was the first death audit company to create and offer daily processing for our death audit solution. To make this happen, we accumulated death data from various sources and process that information nightly against our customer’s population list.  

As the Social Security Administration (SSA) Death Master File (DMF) turned into the Limited Death Master File, the number of deaths reported by the SSA decreased. Our CTO once again solved the problem, and we incorporated obituary data. This allowed us to bring the numbers back up and still process daily, as LifeStatus360 acquired a daily feed. 

Problems presented; problems solved. Evolve the solution. Always finding better and better methods to satisfy the customer. 

A Hitch in Our Death Audit Solution 

Then something unusual happened. A competitor, PBI/ITM, under the direction of John Bikus, purchased the obituary data we were using. Everything remained copacetic until we recently received a notification from PBI/ITM that they would be “modifying” the daily obituary feed.  

Here are the intended modifications: 

  1. Go from daily to weekly  
    = Less frequent 
  1. Combine the first name, last name, and middle initial into one (1) field; name.  
    = Data muddling  
  1. Eliminate the date of birth (DOB) field 
    = Data elimination 
  1. Require a search for the DOB in the notes/brief field, if there is a DOB.  
    = Make it harder, not smarter. 
  1. Graciously double the number of “free” notes, so we can search for a DOB if there is one in the notes/brief field.  
    -> Thank you, sir, may I have another?  

Whoa! Intentional Degradation of Obituary Data 

This intentional degradation of the obituary data is bizarre. We can only conclude that this an intentional disruption and interference by a competitor.  

Taking a fine product and intentionally making it worse? I can only conclude that the devolution, degradation, and modifications of the obituary data by PBI/ITM are intentional.  We have been told that the PBI/ITM “… product and business strategies are proprietary and confidential.” So the product and business strategy of PBI/ITM is to devolve and degrade the data? Make it harder to use? 

When asked why, PBI/ITM communicated, the “… product and business strategies are proprietary and confidential, and there are options available to you, including renegotiated pricing or contract termination.”  

Okay, so let me get this straight. Pay more for a worse product, or if you don’t like it, leave? 

How We Turn Lemons into Lemonade 

No matter. The CTO, David Wiley, once more to the rescue. We recently obtained another obituary source and will maintain a daily obituary feed and continue with daily processing. Of course, we will continue to utilize the inferior PBI/ITM product because we are just that good.   

Make lemonade out of lemons.  

Problem presented – problem solved – evolve the solution. 

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