Martina Conlon posted her view on the Novarica Blog (NOVARICA) and I agree with her. A few comments from me. We are now undergoing a re-organization at ACORD that you will hear more about shortly. In essence we are separating standards development from all of our implementation activities. This will allow us to focus and excel on the development side and provide us with more flexibility and member engagement on implementations. It will also allow us to leverage valuable assets, build utilities and provide services. And our rationale included some of the thinking in Ms.Conlon's post.
The standard ACORD XML transaction format provides big benefit to the industry. It’s a major piece of the solution to enable automated new business processes – providing significant efficiencies to carriers in PL and small to mid commercial markets. Adoption has been strong for portal and AMS transport vendors, which has helped drive carrier adoption. Unfortunately, core system vendors are hesitant to adopt them, which stunts general adoption. Plug and play, SOA and external interfaces could be accelerated and enabled if most vendors chose to support these standards, or even a mapping to these standards.
But ACORD XML also presents some challenges to the industry. Any insurance data standard is going need to be extended as the value and accessibility of new data elements is uncovered. Carriers face the challenge of having to extend the standard themselves, or go through the lengthier formal extension process with the standards body. Accessible and affordable education and support could help in making well designed extensions quickly. If a carrier chooses to add “vehicle color” as an underwriting attribute, it would be great if they could contact a support resource to be advised on the best placement.
Some standards (or starter data models) lack depth in certain lines of business, or subject areas. Knowing that the standard is comprehensive inspires confidence from the carriers and vendors. Too many standard organizations or model vendors prematurely release these assets. Upon review, the carriers identify the holes and label them well-intentioned but incomplete – and don’t bother to revisit the standard or models at a later time.
So, with these challenges, what would help drive the use of data standards and industry models? Finish them before your release them, and then provide accessible, affordable support.
Perhaps more dependence on applications deployed in the cloud or delivered as SaaS will also help drive adoption. For example, Informatica just introduced an integration service that translates ACORD XML to salesforce.com. As integration needs increase, especially around very generic applications, data standards have a better chance or being embraced.