We happened to see a piece on the Gartner website the other day that said this, in part:
Policy administration systems [provide] full end-to-end life cycle management … vendors are increasingly offering a comprehensive range of products with vendors looking to alternative capabilities to differentiate their offerings; for instance, front-end portals with embedded engagement tools.
We have to admit that every time we see something described as end-to-end, we think of two things: The first is a short story by Ernest Hemingway called, “The End of Something”. It was written during what some scholars refer to as Hemingway’s suggestive period, in which he was trying to say something without saying anything. The other is The End of It, a beautiful novel in which a young American artillery officer is driven nearly insane by the barbarity of World War II but is saved by the beauty, the people, and the culture of Italy.
But as you might guess, this isn’t supposed to be a post about literature. So, we’ll get back to our Gartner reading.
We have to admit to being perpetually perplexed by the phrase, end to end, for two reasons. First, regardless of the business you’re in, why would you want to suggest the end of anything? We completely understand that nothing lasts forever. But no matter what you’re creating or selling, why invoke even philosophical curiosity about when it might cease to be created or sold?
Bill: Well, ya know, everything has to end sometime.
Will: I know. But we just started.
Second, maybe we’re being too literal. But if we’re talking about a lifecycle — in this case, a policy lifecycle — where could we say it ends? Isn’t a lifecycle self-perpetuating? Shouldn’t it sustain itself by the fulfillment of commitments, responsive service, and operational transparency? And where or why would it end? When the policyholder stops paying premium? When the insurer refuses to pay a claim and the policyholder takes his business elsewhere? Are we too conservative? We don’t know. But setting aside the argument that the insurance industry is and should be conservative, why even flirt with any of that?
We get the idea that end-to-end is supposed to connote comprehensiveness, a set of processes from policy application to claims adjudication, with billing and a few other things in the bargain. But why not say comprehensive instead of suggesting some point of termination?
Why take it to the vanishing point?